[ID] => 11327
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2019-08-01 11:13:20
[post_date_gmt] => 2019-08-01 10:13:20
[post_content] => An industrial site needs to dispose of scrap metal shavings. The safety data sheet (SDS) lists the metal as non-hazardous. An empty container is located, washed out, and filled with the scrap. This container is sealed and shipped out.
A homeowner is trying to unblock their bathroom sink. They pour some drain cleaner down, but the problem remains. They find a different drain un-blocker, which guarantees results. They follow the instructions and pour this down the drain as well.
A one-litre bottle of concentrated hydrochloric acid is being moved out of a warehouse. It is dropped in the yard outside, spilling about half its contents. The area is cordoned off and a worker sources a gastight suit to clean the spillage up.
On paper, each of these people has acted correctly. They have consulted the safety data sheet (SDS) and followed the suggested safety precautions. They have sought out information and, as a result, have felt armed to deal with the incidents.
The saying ‘knowledge is power’ is true when dealing with chemical incidents. In recognition of this, the National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC) has worked with its customers to build a database of the most up-to-date SDS for each of their products. This allows immediate access to information about almost any chemical in an incident that NCEC assists with. However, it also recognises that generic chemical information will only take you so far.
As it continues on its journey, the container sits in the back of a lorry, unobserved as it starts to bulge.
The second cleaner appears to be working, as it does some bubbles start to appear.
Everybody is a safe distance away, except for the person cleaning up the spill. Although the suit makes it difficult to open the package of absorbent material and cover the spill, they are completely safe, as they take their time.
NCEC was set up in 1973 after a well-meaning person moved to help in a chemical incident and sadly lost their life. It was determined that this should never happen again, and that there needed to be somewhere that responders could refer to in order to obtain the help and support to safely deal with chemical incidents.
Since that time, technical skills and understanding in the world of chemical safety have grown and changed. Through the internet, SDS and manufacturer information is now more readily and quickly accessible. Despite this, NCEC is currently receiving more calls than ever before.
As the container continues to bulge, the pressure builds until it ruptures and spills explosive gas, which finds a spark. The driver is left standing at the side of the road, watching his vehicle burn and wondering what went wrong.
As the drain cleaner does its work, a pungent, irritating odour develops. Having been in the bathroom for some time, they start to feel light-headed. Their last thought before losing consciousness is confusion over what has gone wrong, as they followed the instructions.
Our cleaner steps back and removes their protective suit. They are tired and dehydrated from being in the suit, but happy that the spillage has been cleaned up safely. However, work has been delayed by the clean-up, and they feel that there must have been a way to do this safely, but more quickly.
These are the areas in which NCEC has developed to assist. We do not simply provide an SDS or read out generic information to callers. Rather, we question the caller, locate and assimilate the information and then provide detailed, specific advice, tailored to their particular situation. We use the skills and experience that we have developed in over 45 years of service, as well as the knowledge and abilities of our team of experienced, highly trained chemists. Their analysis and bespoke advice includes the areas that fall ‘between the lines’ of the SDS.
The incidents described above involved scrap metal disposal, mixed cleaning products and spill remediation. If called, we could have provided advice that would have helped deal with all of these situations safely. Sometimes this might be escalating the response and making a caller aware of unrecognised hazards. Other times this would be providing a sense of perspective that would curb the level of response, and therefore reduce the cost of managing the incident.
HELP IS AT HAND
How would NCEC have been able to help in these incidents?
Ferrous metals are traditionally thought of as being fairly unreactive: a solid lump is unlikely to do anything more exciting than rust. Once broken down into small particles, such as dust or scrap shavings, this can change. Whilst ferrous metals in a sheet or block format would not be classed as hazardous for transport, shavings of ferrous metals may need to be classified as spontaneously combustible material (UN class 4.2). If consulted we would explain that, due to the greatly increased surface area, this metal is now likely to be combustible and will react with water to produce hydrogen, a flammable gas. This gas will evolve and, in a sealed container, increase the pressure until it ruptures, creating a possibly explosive atmosphere.
Drain cleaners should never be mixed; a number of the different chemicals commonly used can react together. Common drain cleaners include sulphuric acid and sodium hypochlorite, which will react to produce chlorine, a toxic, corrosive gas. In a confined space such as a bathroom, this can easily build up to produce a hazardous environment. If consulted, we would review the SDS and ingredient lists for the two cleaning products and not only advise whether they are likely to react with each other, but also indicate the nature and the level of hazard of the likely product.
In a situation where only a very small amount of a hazardous chemical has been spilt in a well-ventilated area, it may be possible to downgrade the response, perhaps a lower level of PPE with a procedure in place to mitigate the risk. We would be able to discuss this with the caller, help with the risk assessment and talk through the process of safely and efficiently cleaning the spillage.
Specific advice is superior to generic information. It allows anybody to approach an incident and safely deal with whatever they are confronted with. This is what NCEC offers: the sense checking of product information and the provision of detailed advice, including tactical advice tailored to precise circumstances, and taking full account of the skills and abilities of the recipient. This level of consideration and detail is key to maintaining safety throughout the supply chain.
NCEC works with organisations globally facing a wide range of chemical safety and regulatory challenges, both on site and within their downstream supply chain. To find out how NCEC could support the improvement of your chemical supply chain resilience, visit www.the-ncec.com
, email email@example.com or call +44 (0) 1235 753654.
[post_title] => NCEC: Knowledge is power
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => ncec-knowledge-power
[post_modified] => 2019-08-01 11:13:20
[post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-01 10:13:20
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=11327
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