SERCO Assurance, several Water Utilities and WRc in conjunction with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are working on this project to examine hazardous areas within the water industry.
The research will evaluate guidelines produced in 1993 to identify and assess hazardous areas under modern conditions. The work will focus on ensuring current guidance:
- Is compliant with new legislation including the European ATEX Directives and their incorporation into UK law through the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres (DSEA) Regulations
- Meets recent developments in operating conditions including new equipment e.g. remote monitoring / control systems
- Is useable for areas / conditions beyond those originally envisaged in the 1993 guidelines (i.e. beyond petrol leaks / accidents).
The new regulations require further assessment and control of conditions subject to sources of explosive conditions including dusts. Recent work has also identified > 90 areas, within sewerage systems, where operators now may work in confined spaces including sewers, pump houses, intakes, storm tanks and engine houses.
With increased use of remote monitoring / control systems to manage flows / loads in sewerage systems, there is increased likelihood that equipment present in such areas is subject to substances possibly capable of producing an explosive atmosphere.
Depending upon the results of the 1st phase of the work, if appropriate, the project team will:
- Update the 1993 Guidelines for the Identification of Flammable Atmospheres in the Water Industry to meet the new DSEA Regulations
- Incorporate guidance from the 'Working in Manholes and Confined Spaces' research
- Investigate options for software applications to aid risk assessment.
This research will:
- Ensure the water industry has a comprehensive, practical and technically acceptable methodology for identifying / classifying hazardous areas. This will incorporate latest types of construction for upgrading Combined Sewer Overflows (on-line / off-line storage) plus assessment protocols for sources other than petrol.
- Assist in new design / improvements to existing assets / operational improvements and will reassure Water Utilities that they are complying with current standards / legislation
- Check if petrol from transport accidents and leaks from petrol stations are still the dominant source of hazardous material as they were in 1993 or whether different flammable liquids / source locations are more prominent.