Dust explosion risk reduction method in award list

| Manufacturing

A method of reducing dust explosion risk based on sources of dispersion has been selected for the HazardEx award shortlist.

A design method that has the potential to dramatically reduce the risk of dust explosions in manufacturing centres and laboratories across the world has been shortlisted for an industry award.

BPE, one of the country’s chemical and biochemical engineering design firms, has been shortlisted for a HazardEx ‘Contribution to Safety’ award for its work in targeting a reduction in the risk of dust explosions.

The new method came about after BPE identified that while there is a clear legal requirement to reduce the risk from explosive dusts and carry out a hazardous area classification, no rigorous yet simple step-by-step approach existed.

Determined to make a change, BPE decided to create a toolkit to help process engineers explore the risks and provide practical methods to help to secure a targeted reduction in the risk of dust explosions.

The toolkit takes a step-by-step approach and, innovatively, focuses on sources of dispersion rather than sources of release. This is because in the case of dust explosions, the most hazardous zones are inside equipment rather than outside and therefore arise from dispersion mechanisms, not release mechanisms.

The toolkit has already proven successful, having been implemented at a number of different sites including a pharmaceutical solid dosage plant, a creams manufacturing plant and a site that produces equipment for shot blasting metal and plastic parts.

BPE has also worked to share this new way of working with the wider industry. Scores of process engineers and manufacturers across the UK have learnt about the toolkit through a series of webinars and it’s hoped that the approach will be adopted by many more as it is promoted within the industry. There are also plans for one of the UK’s biggest automotive manufacturers to use the tool kit to develop an in-house training programme.

Mike Brown, managing director of BPE, said: “Sadly, as many historical incidents have shown, dust explosions are a significant cause of death and major injuries, along with a serious adverse impact on the neighbours and nearby environments of manufacturing facilities. The current legal framework in Europe and elsewhere partially addresses the issues but there is a compelling need to strengthen the approaches that are currently available.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted for this award. We are constantly looking at how we can use our deep knowledge of the scientific principles behind engineering to improve safety and efficiency for our clients and this project is just one example.”

BPE has been helping manufacturers make their processes safer and more efficient since 1997. It offers a full range of process engineering services, including process modelling, process safety, project management and process development/scale-up support. Specialising in chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, BPE counts some of the UK’s biggest blue-chip manufacturers among its clients.

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