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Case Studies » Symingtons

The Challenge

Symingtons Ltd. contacted Mesh after a visit from the regulator to one of their production sites in relation to gas-fired plant safety. Accordingly, visits were quickly arranged for three of their facilities: Consett, Low Moor and Millerdale. The sites produce dry and ambient foods for the retail grocery sector, and each presented a unique set of aspects to be considered under DSEAR 2002.

Routine operations at each plant allow for reception of a range of raw materials, and handling and transfer of products that may produce hazardous atmospheres. The primary hazard is associated with substances that may generate a flammable atmosphere under certain conditions - many are in common use across each site.

Bulk dry ingredients are transferred directly to the processing plants in fixed quantities. The processes involves dispensing, mixing and mechanical transport of materials under controlled conditions to produce a range of food products. Some of the process activities may generate dust and the plants need regular cleandown and maintenance to minimise fire and explosion hazards.

The Solution Provided

Each site has a layout designed for high-volume commercial gas-fired heating operations. Facilities include extensive storage, manufacture and oven arrangements and utilise established process technology and purpose-built equipment.

The gas distribution networks and fired equipment was a particular area of focus given the regulator requirements to demonstrate that risk had been suitably and sufficiently assessed.

Combustible dust is a significant hazard associated with operations at each site. Flour, sugar and similar powders are acknowledged as consisting of dust particulates that will readily ignite - and may present a risk of fire / explosion. Flammable dust accumulations commonly contribute to overall fire and explosion hazard and the survey evidence indicated that opportunities for improvement be adopted.

The explosion properties of dust may vary where deposits contain a mixture of components or because of variation in particle size and moisture content, etc.. Typically a worst-case approach is taken to ensure a margin of error in determining the likelihood and extent of incident. The relevant properties for significant combustible dusts that were found to be present were considered in determining on-site fire and explosion hazards.

The report identified clearly and concisely stated where Hazardous Area Classification was required and what actions management should take to ensure the risks were either eliminated or controlled based on the ALARP principles in order to satisfy HSE conditions for continued operation.