Transfer of Highly Flammable Material

March 25, 2014

Following numerous incidents in both Ireland and the UK a solvent company have been prosecuted following an unsafe decanting operation that led to a large fire which completely engulfed its premises.

Chemical safety storage

Workers were transferring highly flammable materials from a bulk container into a smaller vessel. They were filling the drum using a pipe from the container but the pipe was too short. This meant dropping the material from the pipe into the drum which is known as “Splash Filling”. This process is known to generate static electricity which is a potential ignition source.

The flash point of the material being dispensed is just 4°C so when the incident occurred on a hot summers day there would have been a flammable vapour over its surface.

The build up of static electricity within the drum is thought to have ignited the vapour and sparked a fire which spread to a number of other drums containing flammable & solvent material in the area. Some of these drums exploded.

There were a number of employees in the area at the time of the incident but all managed to escape following an Emergency Drill call from a supervisor present. The emergency services were called and on there arrival the blaze was described as an “Inferno”.

An investigation into the incident found that the splash fill method used was inappropriate and posed a clear risk that wasn’t properly assessed. Employee safety was also compromised by the fact the pipe used was not earthed and the incorrect PPE was being worn.

Following the hearing the inspector said “Companies working with dangerous substances must take extreme care at all times and in all aspects of their operations. That clearly didn’t happen on this occasion and it could have had far-reaching consequences.”

Chemstore offer a Free Site Survey to assess the onsite dangers in both dispensing and storage of flammable materials. We will report our findings and recommend the correct process and storage which includes Emergency Spill Response, Eearthing and Storage of Flammable & Solvent materials.

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