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Chemical Protection

Published: 10th Sep 2011 in OSA Magazine

Chemical incidents can be of various types. Some result in the need for minor first aid while others are disastrous accidents, involving the use of hazardous chemicals – which can be toxic, flammable or reactive.

The effects of any incident can, at worst, result in the loss of life, or manifest as an injury to some body part such as the hand or eyes, a skin burn, or perhaps even lead to respiratory problems.

For chemical protection of the body from any of the above incidents, the use of specialised personal protective equipment (PPE) is very important, although it’s worth remembering that the use of PPE should always be considered a last resort.

A model for risk control

• Eliminate – the best way to reduce a risk is to remove the hazard
• Substitute – if you can’t remove risk altogether, substitute the hazard for something less risky; is there a less dangerous chemical you can use that might do the same job?
• Contain – preventing access to a hazard by using a guard, for example, or a locked cupboard for hazardous chemicals; this is important where removing the hazard is not feasible
• Reduce exposure – reducing exposure to a hazard means you’re reducing the likelihood of harm occurring and so reducing the risk
• Training and supervision – information, training and supervision help ensure people follow procedures and are aware of the risks when working with hazards; these measures only work together with other controls
• Personal protective equipment (PPE) – the law in many countries says PPE must be supplied and used at work wherever there’s a risk that can’t be adequately controlled in other ways; it’s always better to control risks at source than to protect from the outcome, and people often don’t use PPE properly if they find it annoying, so it should always be a last resort when risks can’t be controlled any other way
• Welfare facilities – if facilities for washing, such as chemical showers or eyebaths are on hand for quick treatment after an accident, or, indeed, first aid facilities are available, the extent of injury can sometimes be controlled; it’s always better to prevent accidents occurring in the first place and welfare should only ever serve as a back up for emergencies if all other controls fail

Appropriate PPE choices

The specifications for use of a particular kind of PPE are covered under various national and international safety standards such OSHA or OISD.

Vapours, gases, and particulates from hazardous substance response activities place personnel at risk. For this reason, response personnel must wear appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment whenever they are handling chemicals.

The more that is known about the hazards at a release site, the easier it becomes to select the appropriate PPE.

The purpose of PPE is to shield or isolate individuals from the chemical, physical, and biological hazards that may be encountered during hazardous chemical operations. The use of PPE depends on the type of hazard and type of protection required. The hazards can be divided into the following categories:
• Heat radiation or skin burns/fire or skin irritation
• Fracture or fall protection
• Splashing of hazardous chemicals
• Electric shocks
• Inhalation/respiratory hazards

Based on the nature of various chemical hazards, the protection can be categorised as below:
• Respiratory protection
• Non respiratory protection
• Protective clothing including head protection
• Gloves
• Eye washers and showers
• Face protection
• Goggles
• Ear protection
• Foot and leg protection

Any need for protection depends upon the nature of an employee’s work process, the nature of materials handled and the working conditions. The protection is categorised into four types:

• Level A protection –is required when the greatest potential for exposure to hazards exists, and when the greatest level of skin, respiratory, and eye protection is required
• Level B protection– is required under circumstances requiring the highest level of respiratory protection, with lesser levels of skin protection
• Level C protection– is required when the concentration and type of airborne substances is known and the criteria for using air purifying respirators are met
• Level D protection– is the minimum protection required. Level D protection may be sufficient when no contaminants are present or work operations preclude splashes, immersion, or the potential for unexpected inhalation or contact with hazardous levels of chemicals

Self cited industrial example

If a person is working on a melting and casting furnace in a non ferrous metal industry, the furnace will be operated at a temperature of 450°C. Here, the hazards can be hot metal spillage, a blast in the furnace and toxic gas generation.

The operator should be immediately guided to don level A protection, which would involve body protection, respirator, gloves and goggles which would comply with process conditions.

In the selection of chemically protective PPE, the following questions should be resolved:
• Discuss what type and where and when PPE is used in particular chemical operations
• Discuss how and from where to obtain PPE for this particular chemical operation
• Discuss how to wear, adjust, and use PPE for this particular chemical operation
• Discuss proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the PPE for this particular chemical operation
• Document use of PPE as per OSHA format

Compliance with chemical safety legislation – gas, vapour, dust

This has become an increasingly important concern, particularly in view of various incidents in the past such as the Bhopal gas tragedy, where a leak of gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of hundreds of thousands of people; Piper Alpha, where an explosion and resulting fire destroyed the platform, killing 168 men; or, more recently, the BP oil spill, where an explosion killed 11men working on the platform and injured 17others.

Sadly, there are many such terrible stories. Fortunately, there is varied chemical safety legislation to draw upon worldwide. Some of this includes:

1) REACH: REACH is the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006). It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. The law entered into force on June 1, 2007.

The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. At the same time, REACH aims to enhance innovation and competitiveness of the EU chemicals’ industry.

The benefits of the REACH system will come gradually, as more and more substances are phased into REACH. The REACH Regulation
places greater responsibility on industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances.

Manufacturers and importers are required to gather information on the properties of their chemical substances, which will allow their safe handling, and to register the information in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki.

The Agency acts as the central point in the REACH system: it manages the databases necessary to operate the system, co-ordinates the in-depth evaluation of suspicious chemicals and is building up a public database in which consumers and professionals can find hazard information.

2) COMAH: This is the Control of Major Accident Hazards provided by the Health and Safety Executive in the UK, and requires that businesses “take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances, and limit the consequences to people and the environment of any major accidents which do occur.”

The principal aim of the regulations is to reduce the risks of potential major accidents that are associated with the handling of hazardous substances. The regulations operate on two levels depending on the establishment’s status, which is divided into two categories –‘Lower Tier’ and ‘Upper Tier’ – which is determined by inventory.

Lower tier establishments are required to document a Major Accident Prevention Policy, which should be signed off by the managing director. A top tier COMAH establishment is required to produce a full safety report which demonstrates that all necessary measures have been taken to minimise risks posed by the site with regard to the environment and local populations.

The penalty for unauthorised storage can be severe and companies unsure of whether the COMAH regulations apply should seek advice from trade associations and local health and safety inspectors.

3) DSEAR: The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations put into effect requirements from two European Directives: the Chemical Agents Directive (98/24/EC) and the Explosive Atmospheres Directive (99/92/EC). Dangerous substances can put peoples’ safety at risk from fire and explosion. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self- employed to protect people from risks to their safety from fires, explosions and similar events in the workplace. This includes members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity.

What are dangerous substances?

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion. They can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from machining and sanding operations and dusts from foodstuffs.

What does DSEAR require?

Employers must:
• find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the fire and explosion risks are
• put control measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them
• put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances
• prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances
• make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances
• identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment, for example) in those areas

4) ATEX (Explosive Atmospheres Directive): This consists of two EU directives describing what equipment and work environment is allowed in an environment with an explosive atmosphere. ATEX derives its name from the French title of the 94/9/EC directive Atmospheres Explosives.

Employers must classify areas where hazardous explosive atmospheres may occur into zones. The classification given to a particular zone, and its size and location, depends on the likelihood of an explosive atmosphere occurring and its persistence if it does.

Areas classified into zones (0, 1, 2 for gas-vapour-mist and 20, 21, 22 for dust) must be protected from effective sources of ignition. Equipment and protective systems intended to be used in zoned areas must meet the requirements of the directive. Zone 0 and 20 require Category 1 marked equipment, zone 1 and 21 require Category 2 marked equipment and zone 2 and 22 required Category 3
marked equipment. Zone 0 and 20 are the zones with the highest risk of an explosive atmosphere being present.

Equipment in use before July 2003 is allowed to be used indefinitely, provided a risk assessment shows it is safe to do so.

The aim of directive 94/9/EC is to allow the free trade of ‘ATEX’ equipment and protective systems within the EU by removing the need for separate testing and documentation for each member state. The regulations apply to all equipment intended for use in explosive atmospheres, whether electrical or mechanical, including protective systems. There are two categories of equipment: I for mining and II for surface industries.

Manufacturers who apply its provisions and affix the CE marking and the Ex marking are able to sell their equipment anywhere within the European union without any further requirements being applied with respect to the risks covered being applied.

The directive covers a large range of equipment, potentially including equipment used on fixed offshore platforms, in petrochemical plants, mines, flour mills and other areas where a potentially explosive atmosphere may be present.

In very broad terms, there are three preconditions for the directive to apply: the equipment a) must have its own effective source of ignition, b) be intended for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere (air mixtures) and c) be under normal atmospheric conditions.

The directive also covers components essential for the safe use of the equipment in scope. These latter devices may be outside the potentially explosive environment.

A chemical safety proverb

To close this article I’d like to leave you with a couple of thoughts, as sometimes having a short, sharp catchphrase running through your mind can prompt positive actions.

So remember:
It’s important to plan Chemical Safety Management while your plant is running, rather than to think ‘Oh God, I could have planned’ when your plant has been destroyed.
And:
It is never too late to recognise what can go wrong. 

Author details:

Mr Sanjeev Paruthi is a postgraduate Chemical Engineer from Punjab University Chandigarh (India), and is presently associated with a multinational EPC Company as its HSE and Process Safety Engineer at Gurgaon-India.

His experience of six years comprises of working with Hindustan Zinc Limited, Tata Coffee Limited and with leading consulting and Training Company in the domain of Process Safety/Risk Management. He also holds PG Diploma in Business Management from ICFAI. He is also pursuing an Advance Diploma in Industrial Fire Safety Management from Mohali Punjab, India.

Mr Paruthi has wide range of consulting and training experience for working with Chemical, Fine Chemical, Refinery, Petrochemical Storage Installations, paints and allied chemical industries. He has also designed Fire Prevention and Detection systems for Refinery in his current company. He has led various HAZOP and HAZID sessions and prepared various HSE documents under a refinery project.

Mr Paruthi has also conducted Operational Process Safety Studies.

His technical expertise is in the following domain areas:
• Quantitative Risk Assessment, HAZOP Studies, Process Hazard Analysis
• Fire Risk Assessment
• Process Safety Training and Development
• Process Safety Management Studies and Audits
• SIL Studies
• Hazardous Area Classification
• Static Hazards Evaluation
• Lockout Tagout
• Chemical Handling Safety (Gas/Vapour/Dust)
• Process Safety Legislations Compliance The writer can be contacted for any queries or knowledge sharing at sanjeevparuthi@gmail.com 

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Published: 10th Sep 2011 in OSA Magazine

Author


Sanjeev Paruthi


Mr Sanjeev Paruthi is a postgraduate Chemical Engineer from Punjab University Chandigarh (India), and is presently associated with a multinational EPC Company as its HSE and Process Safety Engineer at Gurgaon-India.

His experience of six years comprises of working with Hindustan Zinc Limited, Tata Coffee Limited and with leading consulting and Training Company in the domain of Process Safety/Risk Management. He also holds PG Diploma in Business Management from ICFAI. He is also pursuing an Advance Diploma in Industrial Fire Safety Management from Mohali Punjab, India.

Mr Paruthi has wide range of consulting and training experience for working with Chemical, Fine Chemical, Refinery, Petrochemical Storage Installations, paints and allied chemical industries. He has also designed Fire Prevention and Detection systems for Refinery in his current company. He has led various HAZOP and HAZID sessions and prepared various HSE documents under a refinery project.

Mr Paruthi has also conducted Operational Process Safety Studies.

His technical expertise is in the following domain areas:
• Quantitative Risk Assessment, HAZOP Studies, Process Hazard Analysis
• Fire Risk Assessment
• Process Safety Training and Development
• Process Safety Management Studies and Audits
• SIL Studies
• Hazardous Area Classification
• Static Hazards Evaluation
• Lockout Tagout
• Chemical Handling Safety (Gas/Vapour/Dust)
 


Sanjeev Paruthi

Website:
http://

Email:
sanjeevparuthi@gmail.com

sanjeevparuthi@gmail.com
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