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Company fined following extensive fire at chemical site

Chemical company LMA Services Ltd has been sentenced for safety breaches after a fire which quickly took hold of buildings and storage areas at the site.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that on 30 June 2016, the fire started during a chemical dispensing operation in a Warehouse on Halifax Way, Pocklington Industrial Estate, Pocklington. Heptane, a highly flammable liquid, was being decanted from a bulk storage container into 4-litre metal cans. The operator dropped the can he was filling, exited the warehouse quickly and raised the alarm. He did not suffer any serious injury. The fire spread quickly and destroyed the warehouse, the adjacent warehouse and an external storage area between the two.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the process involved placing a bulk container of heptane onto racking at a height of about 1.5m. A table was then positioned beneath the bulk container onto which a small electrical weighing scale was positioned. Metal cans were placed onto the scale and an employee filled the cans by weight by manually operating a tap on the bulk container in the warehouse building.

A flammable vapour created during the process came into contact with an ignition source causing the vapour to ignite. HSE’s investigation found that the most likely source of ignition was a spark from the electrical weighing scales.

LMA Services Ltd of Halifax Way, Pocklington Industrial Estate, Pocklington pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. The company has been fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £2,377 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Dave Stewart commented: “The risks associated with the decanting operation were not fully understood by the company. There were potential ignition sources present within the area where a flammable vapour was likely to occur.

“This case highlights the importance of assessing risks associated with flammable atmospheres. Employers should ensure that adequate measures are taken to reduce the formation of flammable atmospheres so far as is reasonably practicable, and to ensure that only suitable electrical equipment is used in areas where a flammable atmosphere may be present.”

For advice and guidance on safe flammable liquid storage, or to book a free site survey, contact Chemstore UK today on 0208 704 1807.

 

Fire-proof lithium-ion battery box

Chemstore, the hazardous materials experts, have added a fire-proof case for the safe storage and transport of lithium-ion batteries to their lithium-ion battery storage range.

The Zarges K470 battery box is a high quality aluminium container which is suitable for up to 3 lithium ion batteries of 814 Wh. The box is equipped with fireproof padding and absorbent material and has been successfully fire tested to ensure flame does not spread to adjacent batteries.

The box was originally designed for transporting damaged lithium-ion batteries and is tested and approved as hazardous goods packaging in accordance with UN requirements therefore it can be transported on public roads.

Chemstore already offers an outdoor storage option for lithium-ion batteries (the Electrovault) and an indoor storage option (the ION-LINE) so the Zarges K470 battery box is the perfect addition to the range.

Chemstore Managing Director, Mike Brodie comments: “Lithium-ion battery storage is a complex area with best practice guidance still evolving and misinformation unfortunately quite commonplace. Chemstore Engineering has fast become one of the leading product specialists in this area so we are delighted to further broaden our lithium-ion battery storage range with the addition of the Zarges battery box.”

Watch this video to find out more.

Contact Chemstore Engineering on 020 8704 1807 or email  sales@chemstore.co.uk to find out more about our range of lithium-ion battery storage products and to arrange a free site survey.

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

Explosion at Turkish chemical plant sends drum flying

A dramatic explosion at a chemical plant in Turkey sent a metal drum rocketing into the air landing in the local street, according to reports from Sky News and Inside Edition.

Thankfully there were no fatalities following the explosion, which happened in the town of Tuzla, a suburb of Istanbul, but two fire fighters were injured and the drum narrowly missed several people when it crashed to the ground.

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.

Chemstore UK welcomes John Sexton to northern sales team

Chemstore UK is delighted to welcome John Sexton to the northern sales team bringing with him a wealth of experience in the hazardous storage sector. 

Commenting on the appointment, Chemstore UK Managing Director, Mike Brodie says: “As manufacturing techniques rapidly advance hazardous materials storage is becoming ever more complex so companies are increasingly looking to experts such as Chemstore UK for guidance and support rather than just choosing off-the-shelf solutions.

“Consequently Chemstore UK is experiencing a period of rapid growth so we are pleased to welcome John to the team at this busy time.

John adds: “Chemstore UK has an exceptional product offering and a team of people who are very passionate about what they do. I am excited to join the company and look forward to playing my part in its growth.”

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)

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.

Chevron fined £5m for fatal explosion in which flammable atmospheres were not ‘controlled or understood’

The investigation also found there had been longstanding failures within the refinery safety management systems and as a result the risks posed by flammable atmospheres within the Amine Recovery Unit were not understood or controlled.

At the time of the incident the refinery was operated by Chevron Limited, but ownership changed in August 2011 when the sale to Valero was completed.

Valero Energy UK Ltd of Wood Street, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company have been fined £5 million and ordered to pay costs of £1 million.

B & A Contracts Ltd of Hubberston Road, Pembrokeshire pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.They have been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Knowles said: “This incident, which had devastating consequences for all of those involved, was entirely preventable. Many opportunities to take action to control risk were missed, that would have prevented the incident from occurring. It is important to realise that the incident could have had even more serious consequences had the butane sphere or pipe track been damaged by the flying tank roof.

Detective Superintendent Anthony Griffiths said: “Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive to support them in the very complex investigation to establish the cause of this tragic incident. We hope that the lessons learned ensure that a tragedy of this nature doesn’t happen again. Our thoughts remain with all the families involved.”