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Case Studies » Victoria Foods

The challenge

Aware of the need for a DSEAR risk assessment due to the large volumes of dust being released into the environment when handling dry powders during several stages of the manufacturing process; Victoria Foods management required a full DSEAR survey on the site including identification of hazard zones.

Victoria Foods Limited is a leading manufacturing company in the food sector, and for around twenty years, they have produced a wide range of branded goods at the Leigh site. Activities are largely arranged in discrete areas with well-maintained office, storage and processing areas across the two-storey premises.

The main areas identified as producing most release of dust into the atmosphere were when adding dry ingredients into the mixers, dropping batches into bins and where loose seals allowed dust to be released when handling the product through the automatic feed system. Fire or explosion hazard arises when flammable vapour or dust builds up to within the explosive range and where there may be an ignition source such as unprotected electrical equipment.

The Solution provided

All processes requiring the handling of dry products – namely wheat flour, egg powder or similar constituents - are treated as sources of explosible dust under DSEAR - though in general terms the risk is lowered by the containment and transfer systems employed on production lines. Flour was the most significant hazard at the site and the explosion limits for this material are well documented.

Explosions and fires within the food industry from combustible materials are a known hazard, and they can have devastating and irreversible effects .Routine handling and transfer of flour – both mechanically and by hand - may present significant risk in certain scenarios and was therefore subject to a detailed assessment.

Limiting the opportunity to create flammable dust clouds is fundamental and risk is further minimised where a policy of containment and extraction of dust particles is pursued – with measures to limit ignition sources throughout the operation. Together these will reduce, if not eliminate, the residual risk to personal safety from fire and explosion as no persistent flammable atmospheres were envisaged from operations assessed.