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Case Studies » Sulzer Dowding - Avonmouth

The challenge

An independent survey of operations associated with the Sulzer Bootham Engineers & Sulzer Dowding Mills operations at Avonmouth was undertaken April 2013 to consider arrangements in respect of the Dangerous Substances Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR).

The Avonmouth site is split into two operational businesses, Sulzer Bootham Engineers & Sulzer Dowding Mills. The key DSEAR risks throughout the site were mainly concentrated on the use of flammable gases; as each department had a number of kits located around the production areas.

DSEAR imposes a requirement to eliminate or reduce risks to safety from fire, explosion or other events arising from the hazardous properties of any dangerous substance used in connection with a work process. The responsible person must carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk to employees for dangerous substances that are or may be present on-site.

The solution provided

There were few materials in use that were classified as hazardous substances but Propane and Acetylene gases are recognised flammable hazards. These gases could be found across the site and in some instances lacked the controls that would be expected.

It was also seen that a large number of full and empty portable gas cylinders were stored in external areas; again improvements were suggested.

Fires or explosion hazards arise when flammable vapour or liquid is released into areas where there may be an ignition source - for example leaks from gas hoses where someone is using unprotected electrical equipment. Both Propane and Acetylene require low concentrations to form an explosive mixture and therefore need to be well controlled

Gas cylinders can present significant risk and there were a number of improvement actions issued to improve the controls around the gases. In working with the company, it is incumbent on us to provide advice on remedial actions to minimise the impact from hazardous substances. Recognised standards and guidance are then used in determining the appropriate status and extent of DSEAR hazardous zones for site operations. Significant findings from the survey were clearly set out in a report, along with recommendations to mitigate fire and explosion hazards or support best practice on-site.

Documentary evidence was provided pertaining to existing material inventory, site procedures and maintenance - plus an overview of site safety systems at the time of survey.

All relevant site issues were considered and the detailed DSEAR report, identified hazardous zoning plans and series of recommendations was issued to management to ensure sufficient control of DSEAR risks is maintained.