Chat with us, powered by LiveChat
GB 0208 704 1807
The trouble with stockpiling

According to the latest report from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply a number of firms are raising purchasing again as they restart Brexit preparations.

Chemstore UK has seen lots of examples of stockpiling during site surveys this year and we have identified some common safety concerns. Firstly, many companies are stockpiling hazardous chemicals without anywhere to safely store them, so this is something procurement departments need to be aware of before ordering surplus supplies. In addition, where companies are increasing production to meet stockpiling demands there is likely to be an increase in waste; a common situation is for waste to be left on site until a full trailer or lorry load can be filled yet no safe allocation has been made for this volume of hazardous waste. An example of small scale safe segregated waste storage can be seen here).

We urge anyone holding or producing additional hazardous materials to carefully consider their storage arrangements and if in doubt please get in touch. Call 020 8704 1807 or  email sales@chemstore.co.uk

Investing in additional safe storage facilities can be an essential part of contingency planning. Chemstore UK also offers rental options.

Get ready for winter with temperature-controlled storage

How do colder months affect chemical storage in the workplace?

As winter approaches and colder temperatures start to hit, it’s worth remembering that climate has an impact on quality and safety.

BP2
A fuel-testing module supplied by Chemstore to a BP UK site

Quality control
Temperature control is a critical factor when storing quantities of valuable products such as solvents, adhesives and coatings. It is essential in many industrial processes to maintain the optimal temperatures for these products to obtain the highest product quality for goods produced. For processes such as paint mixing, adhesive appliances and ingredient storage – companies need correct temperature controlled storage that is both compliant and fit for purpose.

Chemstore specialises in the manufacture of bespoke temperature controlled chemical stores that can be designed specifically for your product requirements.

Click here to see one of Chemstore’s temperature controlled solutions in action featuring the new touch-screen delta control panel.

For more information, just contact one of our sales team today and get prepared for the winter ahead. Call +44 20 8704 1807 or  email sales@chemstore.co.uk

HSE issues advice on trading chemicals in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Advice on trading chemicals: If the UK leaves the EU without a deal companies will need to follow new rules for trading certain types of chemicals with the EU after 31 October, according to advice from the HSE.

Import or export licences needed

Just as is the case for countries outside the EU, companies may need import or export licences to trade drug precursor chemicals with the EU.

Domestic licence of registration required

To apply for an import or export licence companies must have a domestic licence or registration, which usually takes 12-16 weeks to process.

Apply now to avoid delay

The HSE advises to avoid disruption, companies can check whether the chemicals they trade will be affected and apply for a domestic licence now.

Go to GOV.UK for further guidance.

Working safely with static

In this article Mike Brodie, Chemstore UK MD, outlines some of the risks associated with working with static and offers some best practice guidance.

What is static?

Static electricity is, simply put, electricity that is stuck in a system with nowhere to go. Within a typical electrical circuit, the charge is contained within a closed loop and returns to the source after carrying out a specific task, powering your kettle or lighting your office for example.

Static is different in that it can accumulate, often unnoticed, on plant, containers or even personnel. Due to lack of awareness or complacency in the workplace this build-up of energy can result in devastating, yet entirely avoidable accidents.

The accumulation of electrostatic charge is caused by barriers between the static charge and its path to ‘true earth’. For example, electrostatic charge on steel drums can be prevented from being dissipated by the presence of protective coatings, rust, debris build up and even surface layers of the stored product. Static build up on personnel can be a result of wearing the wrong footwear, or the use of insulating gloves when handling product.

Electrostatic sparking is caused by the rapid ionisation of the atmosphere between two objects at different electrical potential. When this voltage reaches a critical level, ionisation occurs in the form of a spark.

If the atmosphere across the spark is between its upper and lower flammable limits, ignition of the atmosphere will occur, resulting in fire or explosion.

The dangers of static

 

Hidenburg

 

Possibly the most famous example of a disastrous electrostatic discharge is the Hindenburg ‘Airship’ explosion. According to a team of experts recently assigned to conclude what caused the vessel to explode on 6th May, 1937, determined the most likely cause was a build-up of electrostatic energy transferred to the airship by passing through highly charged thunderstorm clouds. The problem came about during landing, as the ground crew reached for the tie down ropes, a path was created for the charge to spark to ground as contact with the earth was made. This, in turn, ignited the Hydrogen gas used to fill the ship, resulting in the explosion that killed 36 passengers that day.

Manoa Laboratory 2016

A more recent example of disastrous electrostatic discharge includes an explosion in 2016 within the Manoa Laboratory at the University of Hawaii. Investigators noted that: –

“…serious deficiencies in the institution’s approach to laboratory safety contributed to a lapse in proper risk assessment and lack of a culture of safety that ultimately led to the accident”.

University of Hawaii

A research fellow, visiting the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute biofuels research laboratory, was transferring a mix of flammable gases into a low pressure tank when the explosion occurred. The explosion seriously injured the lab technician, causing her to lose her arm. The University suffered an estimated $1,000,000 in damage to property and faces up to $115,500 in fines.

Initial investigations put the blame on an incorrectly specified pressure gauge that was not suitable for use with flammable gases, however further studies into the event placed the blame on static discharge within the tank.

University of Hawaii Source

 

 

 

 

Tank Before & After

Tank before photo provided by Jian Yu, after photo provided by the Honolulu Fire Department Source

It appears the explosion could have been avoided however by carrying out a more detailed risk assessment of the process. In fact, although the experiment had been carried out 10 or 11 times previously it was noted that the investigators discovered a number of ‘near misses’ that should have caused the process to be shut down and investigated further.

For example, a ‘cracking’ sound was reported during a similar experiment on another tank but the technician was advised to simply not use that equipment again. Equally of concern is that the technician had also reported receiving static shocks when touching the pressure vessel but was told not to worry about it.

Where is static likely to occur in the workplace?

It is always essential to consider static accumulation within workplace processes, but more so when these processes involve the creation of potentially explosive atmospheres. Such activities do not have to involve large quantities of flammables liquids or dusts. A few litres of flammable liquid, under the right circumstances can create the perfect conditions for an explosion throughout a workshop or laboratory. Common activities often include the collection of waste into larger drums/IBC’s for bulk disposal, or decanting of good product from larger drums into smaller containers for transfer into the workshop or laboratory.

During both processes a release of flammable vapour is often unavoidable. A static discharge at this time can easily result in a devastating explosion or fire.

Responsibility for these activities most likely rests with the operators, however due to the absence of a visible or tangible hazard, a lack of understanding or awareness can lead to complacency or honest mistakes and an electrostatic ignition.

As an example, a calculation can be made to show the energy of an electrostatic charge typically found on a metal drum containing liquid.

Example spark energy (joules) of a steel drum containing liquid = approx. 8.0 mJ

 

Liquid / Gas Minimum Ignition Energy
Methanol 0.14mJ
MEK 0.53mJ
Acetone 1.15mJ
Toluene 0.24mJ

It is clear to see that there is easily enough energy in commonly found activities to ignite a flammable atmosphere (within the explosive limits) of regularly used chemicals.

Legislation

There are many articles and best practice guides available in the market. In the UK, the DSEAR – Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations requires that a thorough risk assessment is carried out by a competent person.

“…Where a dangerous substance is or is liable to be present at the workplace, the employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to his employees which arise from that substance. … [including] … the likelihood that ignition sources, including electrostatic discharges, will be present and become active and effective”

Regulation 5 – Risk Assessment.

How Chemstore UK can help to solve the problem

Firstly, Chemstore can supply an on site assessment of your processes and facilities. If necessary, we can carry out a full DSEAR Risk Assessment for you to address any concerns you have regarding your process and to help put a plan in place for safe practices going forward.

This can then be re-enforced with operator and staff training and awareness courses to improve knowledge of the risks and associated hazards.

Chemstore’s Firevault and Safety Cabinet ranges can be supplied to ensure that all flammable liquids and gases are properly stored and that the environment for material transfer is made safe.

We can also offer a range of grounding equipment, depending on the application, to ensure operators have the right equipment to carry out the tasks on site.

Preferably, such equipment should not only monitor the presence of a connection to true earth (thus ensuring and static can safely drain away) but should also alert the operator if this state changes and the system becomes potentially dangerous.

The operator can then shut down the process until the issue can be rectified.

Static grounding requirements: What precautions should be taken when transferring flammable liquids from a metal container to a metal receiver?

When transferring liquids to/from 200L metal drums, for example – we would typically recommend using ‘pressure clamps’ capable of penetrating any surface barriers like rust, protective coatings usually present in such scenarios.

These clamps must be capable of achieving the (industrially accepted) contact resistance of 10 Ohms or less. Not only should they achieve this level of conductivity, but they should also be able to notify the operator that a good connection is ‘made’, or more importantly ‘not made’.

 

ClampsNewton Gale

Please enquire here for more information on this range of active products

Although ‘active’ systems clearly offer a preferred level of risk mitigation, sites may (after careful risk assessment) elect to implement a more passive system that does not have ground status monitoring or feedback capability. In this case it is essential to understand the limitations of such a system, to ensure that a good connection has indeed been made and continues to be made during the process. The use of certified and approved Factory Mutual or ATEX equipment is essential to achieve this – which Chemstore can supply on request.

 

Chemstore’s got lithium-ion battery storage covered

Chemstore, the hazardous materials experts, have added the ION-LINE, a 90 minute fire rated lithium-ion storage and charging cabinet for the indoor storage of lithium-ion batteries, to its lithium-ion battery storage offering.

When charging lithium-ion batteries heat can be generated, if this heat output is too high, a fire may occur, for example if the lithium-ion battery, charger or the cable is defective. Another major risk factor is thermal runaway of lithium-ion batteries

The ION-LINE allows charging of batteries overnight in the safe knowledge they are protected by a 90minute fire rated cabinet that has smoke detection and fire suppression built in.

“Standard fire-rated units just won’t do when it comes to lithium-ion battery storage which is why it is important to consult a specialist such as Chemstore who are fast becoming the go-to experts on this issue.”

The ION-LINE cabinet also features a fire suppression system and smoke detectors.

Chemstore Managing Director Mike Brodie comments: “The addition of the ION-LINE to our range means that we now have lithium-ion battery storage covered with an outdoor (Electrovault) and indoor offering as well as the option to create bespoke storage solutions.

“Standard fire-rated units just won’t do when it comes to lithium-ion battery storage which is why it is important to consult a specialist such as Chemstore who are fast becoming the go-to experts on this issue.”

ION-LINE features include:

Dimensions: External 1,196W x 616D x 1,968H (mm)

Cabinet Weight: 424Kg

Loading: 180Kg evenly distributed load per shelf.

Storage: 6 No.  shelves and 1 no. bottom collecting sump .

Spillage Collection: 33 L Leak tested, welded steel, liquid collection sump in base.

Access:                       Twin hinged wing doors

Finish:                         Chemical resistant powder coat finish (Blue)

Lithium Ion Storage and Charging cabinet – 90 Minute Fire Rated

Introducing the ION-LINE cabinet.

In Active Storage, lithium-ion batteries or battery packs are charged in a cabinet

(passive storage options are available)

When charging lithium ion batteries heat can be generated, if this heat output is too high, a fire may occur, for example if the lithium ion battery, charger or the cable is defective. Another major risk factor is thermal runawayof lithium-ion batteries

What if you could charge you batteries overnight in the safe knowledge they are protected by a 90minute fire rated cabinet that has smoke dectection and fire suppression built in.

 

Dimensions: External 1,196W x 616D x 1,968H (mm)

Cabinet Weight: 424Kg

Loading: 180Kg evenly distributed load per shelf.

Storage: 6 No.  shelves and 1 no. bottom collecting sump .

Spillage Collection: 33 L Leak tested, welded steel, liquid collection sump in base.

Access:                       Twin hinged wing doors

Finish:                         Chemical resistant powder coat finish (Blue)

 

 

Sentence after teenage apprentice overcome by chemicals
An alloy wheel refurbishment company has been sentenced after a 16-year-old apprentice worker was overcome by vapours from a chemical used in the stripping and cleaning of alloy wheels.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 12 December 2017, the employee of Wheelnut Ltd, entered an area of the company’s former premises in Swalwell, Newcastle upon Tyne, known as the “acid room”. The employee entered the room to retrieve alloy wheels from one of three barrels of a chemical substance containing Dichloromethane (DCM), Methanol and Hydrofluoric Acid used in the stripping process. He was subsequently found by a colleague slumped unconscious over a barrel.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a risk assessment for the chemical wheel stripping process was not suitable or sufficient. Appropriate control measures should have included suitable exhaust ventilation in the room as well as respiratory protective equipment (RPE) for the employees. RPE was provided but it was not maintained in an efficient or effective state. Several parts of it were damaged and the air feed to it from the compressor was not filtered correctly. The investigation found that on this occasion, and previously, the employee was not wearing the RPE when he entered the room. Employees were not provided with suitable and sufficient information, instruction, and training with regards to the risks involved with using the chemicals, particularly the risks involved with using DCM.

Wheelnut Ltd of Whickham Bank, Swalwell, Newcastle upon pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £32,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £1718.50.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Joy Craighead said: “A young worker suffered a potentially serious injury. Breathing in DCM vapour can produce narcotic effects and, at high concentrations, unconsciousness and death. In this instance, the boy made a full recovery, but it could have easily resulted in his death.”

Commenting on the sentencing, Mike Brodie, Chemstore UK Managing Director said: “A storage arrangement with suitable extraction could have prevented this incident from happening. It is easy to underestimate the dangers of gases and vapours given off by chemicals because they can be odourless and vapourless but their effects can be devastating. Thankfully the apprentice in question made a full recovery but the incident is a reminder of the importance of storing hazardous substances correctly.”

If you are unsure of your obligations in this area, contact Chemstore today for a free site assessment.

You may also be interested in our free corrosives storage checklist.

Chemstore launches dedicated lithium-ion battery storage unit

Hazardous materials experts Chemstore have launched the Electrovault, a dedicated lithium-ion battery storage unit which can be tailored to an individual company’s needs.

Lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly popular, not least due to their use in electric vehicles, but there is still some confusion around the safest way to handle and store the technology.

Chemstore Managing Director Mike Brodie explains: “When it comes to lithium-ion battery storage a standard fire rated unit just won’t do yet we are finding many companies are unaware aware of this.

“For example one issue with lithium-ion batteries is the occurrence of thermal runaway; lithium-ion batteries have a narrow operating temperature range of between +15 and +45°C and if they exceed this limit a thermal runaway can occur where an increase in temperature changes the conditions in a way that causes a further increase in temperature. During a thermal runaway hydrogen fluoride HF, phosphorus pentafluoride (PF5) and phosphoryl fluoride (POF3) are released and studies have shown that using water as a fire suppressant may increase the formation of HF yet it’s not uncommon to find people storing lithium-ion batteries in units with water suppression systems.”

The Electrovault units are made to comply with RC61 guidelines for battery storage and can be tailored to suit your specification, whether that is:

  • Atex Rated Temperature control
  • Atex Rated Humidity Control
  • Atex Rated Gas detection systems
  • Fire Suppression Systems
  • Fire Rated  (including all Atex internal electrical components where  required)
  • Atex Lighting
  • Remote monitoring systems
  • FIFO control operations
  • LIFO control operations
  • Fire rated and segregated Quarantine areas
  • Restricted access control
  • Fully automated extraction systems

Call Chemstore today for a free review of your lithium-ion storage arrangements on 0208 704 1807.

Interested in knowledge sharing and best practice around lithium-ion battery storage – join the Lithium Ion Network on Linkedin – just search “Lithium Ion network” and request to join. 

Hoverboard fire highlights dangers of lithium-ion batteries

A fire involving a popular electronic toy that put a number of children’s lives in danger has once again highlighted the dangers of lithium-ion batteries.

Shortly after 8pm on Monday 13 May a two-wheeled self-balancing electronic scooter, which are commonly known as hoverboards, exploded as it was being charged in the living room of the family’s home in Masefield Avenue.

Five children, aged between five and 10, were all asleep upstairs at the time.

Fortunately dad Robert Jones, 33, was awake and heard the hoverboard crackling and then saw it explode as he went into the living room to investigate.

The explosion activated the smoke alarms in the house and also alerted neighbours to the resulting fire.

The neighbours helped Robert wake up the children and carry them outside to safety.

No-one required medical attention but the fire caused significant damage to the living room, particularly the floor, walls and dining table.

Mum Claire Bevan, 30, said: “I was not at home at the time of the fire. I returned to find fire engines outside my home and that my sleeping children had been rescued by my partner Robert and neighbours.

“As a family we are aware of the possibility of hoverboards being charged causing a fire.

“We bought it from a reputable retailer and it was only left charging for 20 minutes.

“It just goes to show that frightening things you read about in the news can happen to you.

“The incident has left the whole family extremely shaken up and emotionally scarred.

“But the incident could have been far worse. We would never have left the hoverboard charging whilst we went to bed as we are aware of the dangers of doing that. I dread to think what the consequences could have been if we weren’t so knowledgeable about hoverboards and if the fire had started later at night.

“A charging hoverboard exploding like that could have killed another family, especially if they didn’t have smoke alarms.

An investigation has been carried out to establish the cause of the fire.

It is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

Widnes Fire Station Manager Stuart Devereux said: “Hoverboards have become extremely popular among children in recent years and there have been instances of the electric scooters hitting the headlines nationally and internationally for causing fires.

“There are three main causes of fires involving lithium ion batteries such as those used in hoverboards: the wrong charger being used, mechanical damage to the battery and a manufacturing defect.

“The lithium ion batteries used in hoverboards and other rechargeable items contain chemicals which are flammable.

In the event of a short circuit or an over-charge situation, they can heat up very quickly and burst into flames. The resulting fire, although relatively small, can be very intense and will produce dense smoke.”

Chemstore UK Managing Director Mike Brodie comments: “This incident goes to show yet again the unpredictable nature of lithium-ion batteries.

“Thankfully in this incident everyone was okay but it is a reminder of the potential devestation the technology can cause.

“Stories such as this one often drive an increase in enquires to Chemstore UK from companies concerned about the hazards associated with handling and storing lithium-ion batteries in their workplaces.

“Unfortunately we find that people are often using inadequate storage systems and have frequently had poor advice.

“As hazardous materials experts the Chemstore team has a wealth of experience in this area and we have even developed a dedicated storage solution, the Electrovault, designed specifically for the safe storage of lithium-ion batteries.”

Call today for more information or to book your free site safety assessment on 0208 704 1807.

 

Time to review your corrosive substance storage?

Chemstore, The Hazardous Materials Expert, is encouraging businesses large and small to review their corrosive storage requirements to ensure that they are keeping staff and members of the public safe and Chemstore has created a corrosives storage checklist to help.

DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST NOW.

The advice comes in light of an increasing number of public acid attacks which serve as a reminder of the devastating impact corrosive substances can have on human health.

Corrosives and their vapours can cause devastating damage to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and digestive tract

As news reports have highlighted, corrosives and their vapours can cause devastating damage to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and digestive tract and some corrosives can even eat through metal. Controlling access to these substances and storing them correctly in line with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 is therefore essential but Chemstore finds it is a hazard that is easily overlooked, often because people don’t realise they are dealing with corrosive substances in the first place.

Mike Brodie, Chemstore UK managing director explains: “There is a common myth, as quoted by the HSE in its brief guide to COSHH, that companies don’t think they have any hazardous substances in their workplace when on closer inspection this is rarely the case.

People think that because they have been supplied with a substance it must be safe but this is simply not true

“There is an increasing drive to control public access to corrosives with retailers becoming more vigilant and measures such as banning cash purchases of acid being proposed but there has been less attention given to the fact that corrosive substances are still easily ac-cessible in many workplaces. Consequently we are urging companies to consider whether this is an area that needs review.”

Mike adds: “Another common myth is that people think that because they have been supplied with a substance it must be safe. This is simply not true yet this attitude means that many companies and consequently workers remain oblivious to the hazards of some of the substances they work with. At the most extreme we have seen hydrofluoric acid ,which is used for glass etching, metal cleaning and electronics manufacturing and can be fatal, stored in boxes on factory floors.”

The good news is that meeting your obligations in this area is often easier than people think. Chemstore has come up with a simple checklist which can be downloaded here to help businesses review their procedures and signpost them in the right direction for further information.

Download the corrosives storage checklist here.