Explosion Protection Document, Explosion Risk Assessment and Explosion Hazard Assessment for existing and new cosmetics production installations

Explosion Protection Document, Explosion Risk Assessment and Explosion Hazard Assessment for existing and new cosmetics production installations

Problem:

  • explosion hazard within the cologne production installation due to the possibility of occurrence of flammable and explosive ethanol vapours with concentrations of 96% and 70%, forming a dangerous explosive mixture with air, which may, due to its density, accumulate in the lower parts of the analysed rooms
  • the use, in some cosmetics production processes, of substances with a high content of pentamethylheptane, also posing a risk of explosion – as in the case of ethanol, the high density of pentamethylheptane causes its vapours to accumulate in the lower parts of the rooms under analysis

Solution:

  • the preparation of the Explosion Protection Document, Explosion Risk Assessment and Explosion Hazard Assessment for the entire installation, on the basis of which technical and organisational recommendations have been developed to improve the level of safety in the plant
  • proposed modifications in the production process and organisation which may contribute to the improvement of safety
  • identification of technical solutions to protect installations against the possible effects of the emission of flammable liquid vapours

Check the details of the implemented equipment and services:

Preparation of a single summary document covering all ATEX and EHA aspects

One of the largest cosmetics manufacturers in Poland, known for its great focus on the safety of employees and the production process itself, commissioned our company to prepare the documents resulting from the ATEX directive and EHA (Explosion Hazard Assessment due to fire safety regulations) for the new cologne production installation and the ethanol unloading and storage system. The order also included the preparation and completion of these documents for the existing installations (two installations for the production of cosmetic masses) and battery charging stations.

Documents preparation process and identification of hazards in the plant

Initially, our task was to prepare the Explosion Protection Document for a new cosmetics (cologne) production installation. During the meetings, a wider scope of the order was agreed, which included the preparation of all necessary ATEX documents for the entire plant, based on the latest regulations and standards.

As mentioned above, our client places great emphasis on safety in the plant, which was already noticeable during local inspections and discussions held when preparing the documents. Our specialists identified an unquestionably high level of safety culture in the company.

Nevertheless, due to the greatest risks associated with the possibility of flammable and explosive ethanol vapours of 96% and 70% concentrations, which form a dangerous explosive mixture with air, and the use of substances with a high content of pentamethylheptane, also posing a risk of explosion, in some cosmetic mass production processes, we analysed all possible scenarios (including emergency scenarios) related to the emission of these substances.

What will be the benefits of the ATEX documents for the client

Thanks to the prepared documents, the cosmetics manufacturer will be able to enjoy the knowledge of a new level of safety for the employees, at the same time meeting all the requirements of Polish law. In addition, the documents provided valuable information regarding the installation – how safety can be further improved and in what areas. It turned out that small changes in the production process and organisation, as well as simple safety solutions can aid in protecting the installations against serious consequences.

One collective document for all installations comprises studies on the following subjects:

  • technical description of the production of cosmetics,
  • identification and assessment of hazards posed by equipment, processes and substances,
  • estimation of the probability of occurrence of explosive atmospheres, determination of explosion hazard zones and their range,
  • graphical identification of explosion hazard zones,
  • estimation of the probability of activation of effective ignition sources,
  • estimation of risk, determination of the possible effects of explosion, analysis of the identified emergency scenarios,
  • technical, structural and organisational recommendations to improve safety in the area of the installations under consideration,
  • assessment of explosion hazard in rooms with explosive media, in accordance with the Regulation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration on fire protection of buildings (Dz. U. of 2010, No. 109, item 719).

Ethanol vapour explosion – possible consequences

In the case of a cosmetics production installation, an explosion of the ethanol vapour and air mixture may occur, for instance, at ethanol unloading stations from road tankers to an ethanol storage tank or in production rooms with mixers for cosmetics preparation (to which the ethanol is transferred). What could be the consequences of a possible explosion of ethanol vapours?

  • damage to the installation at the ethanol unloading and storage site,
  • damage to the road tanker,
  • damage to the mixing system,
  • material damage
  • possible injuries to the personnel operating the unloading station and employees in the production area.

Regulations defining the preparation of EPD, ERA and EHA documents

Pursuant to the provisions of Article 4 of Directive 99/92/EC (Atex 137 Directive) and the relevant Polish regulation (Dz. U. of 2010, No. 138, item 931), the employer must prepare and implement a (workplace) protection document against explosion (EPD), as well as carry out its periodical updates. The purpose of this document is to meet the minimum requirements for safe production.

The assessment of the explosion risk is specified in the Regulation of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration of 7 June 2010 on fire protection of buildings, other buildings and areas (Dz. U. of 2010, No. 109, item 719, chapter 8. Hot works and the explosion risk assessment, Par. 37(1)), which states that the EHA should be prepared for the facilities and adjacent areas where technological processes are carried out with the use of materials capable of producing explosive mixtures or in which such materials are stored. As the document indicates, the explosion hazard assessment may constitute a part of the explosion risk assessment, which is defined by the aforementioned provisions of the Regulation of the Minister of Economy of 8 July 2010 on minimum requirements concerning occupational health and safety related to the possibility of occurrence of an explosive atmosphere in the workplace (Dz. U. of 2010, No. 138, item 931).

Our long experience allowed us to indicate some problems with the interpretation of the provisions of the regulation, which we encountered when preparing the explosion risk assessment (ERA) and the explosion protection document (EPD). This is related to the interpretation of the minimum requirements regulation, which encounters a number of difficulties and interpretation problems. This issue is discussed in the article: