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Case Studies » NICHE Magnesia

The Challenge

An independent survey of NICHE Magnesia operations at the Saltend site in Hull was undertaken August 2011 at the request of senior management. This was subsequently reviewed in December 2019.

Facilities at the Saltend site allow production of Magnesium Oxide powders for sale into the electrical element manufacturing sector. Majority of process materials were found not to be hazardous in normal use despite extensive blending, sieving and material transfer activities. However a key hazardous substance in widespread use at the plant is mains gas which fuels high temperature furnace treatment.

The Solution provided

Handling of hazardous or flammable substances on-site will invariably involve some degree of risk; some concerns were raised where Propane gas cylinders were found not adequately secure. Additionally there were some gaps in signage to warn of hazards and appropriate control measures – particularly for a process that can give off flammable Hydrogen during thermal decomposition. DSEAR hazard increases where Hydrogen may reach explosive concentrations.

Flammable substances in routine use include natural gas, maintenance materials and fuels. Mains gas is obviously very highly flammable and used extensively across site in kilns, boilers etc.

The survey identified the need to apply specific hazardous zone arrangements to ensure that activity where the risk of explosion is greatest are subject to most control. Given that eradication of fuel and use of purging options were limited for the processing carried out at NICHE Magnesia, the key basis of safety in these zones is ventilation and ignition controls. This was clearly detailed to management and an action plan provided to address any safety issues found.