Hazchem Network Heat Safety Alert

22 June 2017

We are enjoying the current heat wave across the UK, but we must also pass some cautionary advice to those of us working in Chemical Distribution.

Ensure Drivers and Depot Staff are Prepared

Please ensure you remain well hydrated during this heat wave, and advise staff that although they may wish to wear short-sleeves and shorts - but when working with Chemicals, bare-skin can pose problems by getting material inadvertently on the skin – which we have seen in the past.

When working with Chemicals please ensure staff members are dressed appropriately for the task, including correct Personal Protective Equipment [PPE].

The Effect of Heat on Chemicals

Please ensure that no Hazardous and combustible materials are placed under direct sunlight, for the heat can make flammable material reach flash points, and a spark or even sunlight heating the material could cause ignition; as well as rupture drums, IBCs, cans etc

We have had a report today from one of our members called www.hers-info.co.uk at NCEC Harwell as a pallet of Oxidising / Peroxide was found smouldering under their canopy and smoking [a sign that it was about to ignite]. The depot was evacuated as a precaution and the Fire Brigade were called. Thankfully the depot ware organised so no one got hurt and the pallet was carefully cooled so it didn’t catch fire.

So please ensure no hazardous material is kept in direct sunlight, and that you have checked your fire risk assessments, fire alarms, run fire drills and informed staff of the risks presented by the hot weather.

The Class that we carry that most pose elevated risks with heat / direct sunlight [but not restricted to] are denoted below, as apart from containers rupturing, they can be all become a significant fire risk.

Class 2 Gas Cylinders – must be kept in the shade

Class 3 Flammable Liquids – especially those of low flash point [e.g. Packing Group I] – must be kept in the shade

Class 4 Flammable and Reactive Solids – these like Class 3, must be kept away from direct sunlight

Class 5.1 Oxidising Agents and Class 5.2 Organic Peroxides – must be kept away from direct sunlight

Other Classes should also be kept away from Direct Sunlight / kept in the shade – as heat / sunlight can make IBCs / drums / cans ‘bow’ as well as rupture causing a spillage, and combustible material is a fire risk such as overflowing bins, pallet debris, waste paper etc

Planning is essential when we face hot weather, something that we get rarely so must remind all our staff of the effects of Heat and direct sunlight on Hazardous Goods.

If you have any queries, please contact your Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor [DGSA].

Duty of Care

"Duty of Care" applies to the whole custody transfer process, so it is vital that your drivers are fully aware of their responsibilities under ADR.

We were most perturbed when we read this report from Commercial Motor –

A "reckless" truck driver who left a hazardous chemical spill from his vehicle unattended has been banned from driving for an indefinite period.

Simon Carrington, driver fled the scene after spilling at least 200-litres of acetic anhydride on an access road in Barry, South Wales in April 2016.

The chemical can cause health issues if ingested, inhaled or if it comes into contact with the skin.

Read More from Commercial Motor Here