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Case Studies » Sulzer Dowding - Middlesbrough

The challenge

A visit was made to the Sulzer, Dowding & Mills site at Middlesbrough, Cleveland in March 2015 to consider compliance in respect of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).

Sulzer have a network of service centres to provide specialist engineering support to clients. The Middlesbrough site was a new facility and offers a range of technical or non-standard services linked to repair or rewind of motors, pumps and other rotating equipment.

The DSEAR focus was primarily upon arrangements for flammable substances that may arise in the operation of purpose-designed varnish tank, ovens and paint spray facilities used for refurbishment of motors and other machinery. Other specific areas included portable gas cylinders and general flammable storage arrangements on-site.

The solution provided

Paint systems and thinners in use included several flammables; Xylene & Butyl Acetate were found to be major components in the thinners and topcoat paints.

Modified polyester resin-based varnish is used to provide insulation properties for electric motor windings. It is used in a purpose-designed tank with flammable thinners added to reduce viscosity. It was confirmed this adds to the hazard potential as the solution will be much easier to ignite than 50-70% heavy Naptha component.

Based upon observations at time of survey it was confirmed that site operations routinely involve hazardous substances as defined under DSEAR. Management were advised that even a few litres of a flammable liquid may result in a much larger, explosive vapour cloud. Similarly release of vapour that is heavier than air may build up in drains etc. or travel some distance along the ground to a source of ignition.

The above points and a number of other issues were raised in the detailed report that included clear direction on hazardous area classification and what improvement actions needed to be introduced.