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FIRE & ELECTRICAL SAFETY


The original three fire factors – air, fuel, heat source (in addition to the two extra factors for explosions rather than the explosive risk associated with it. dispersion of dust and confinement of dust) all need to be present to support fire and explosions. So, the exclusion of any of these will prevent fire or explosion occurring or will extinguish it. In practical terms then, there is the need to exclude the fuel, i.e., the dust or the source of heat, since air will certainly be present.


The main ignition sources that need to be eliminated where feasible are:


• Sparks created by metal striking metal or metal striking other hard materials, for example, flint.


• Mechanical friction (bearing failure, belts miss tracking and rubbing on plant).


• Hot work, such as angle grinding or welding. • Fires. • Static electricity. • Smoking/matches/vaping. • Unsuitable/overloaded/faulty electrical equipment. • Vehicles.


If during the DSEAR assessment process it is determined that there is likely to be a combustible cloud of dust and an ignition source present, it is usually difficult to control all ignition sources, then a decision has to be made on how this risk should be controlled.


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Generally, controls fall into three categories:


Explosion mitigation involves designing the plant in such a way as to allow an explosion to occur but without creating a hazard to personnel by allowing the excess pressure and flame to vent to a safe area.


Explosion containment involves designing plant and equipment to be strong enough to withstand the results of an explosion within it without failing.


Explosion suppression involves a system which detects the early signs of an explosion and extinguishes it by the injection of an inert material.


The fact that a potential explosive atmosphere is determined does not affect ATEX certification but does require the manufacturer to put in place explosion protection measures. We advise using the services of a reputable health and safety consultancy such as SML that can provide a bespoke assessment with recommendations for compliance, and identification of all the potential danger points.


We have carried out fire and explosion risk assessments for many food manufacturers and it’s worth pointing out that it is not just an adherence to DSEAR that is crucial. It is also an understanding of the potential threats and outcomes and the implementation of the correct regular procedures to minimise risk on a daily basis.


www.safety-management.co.uk 31


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