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Saving Money As Well As Lives - Continuous Risk Assessment and Management

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aug 16 18Saving Money As Well As Lives - Continuous Risk Assessment and Management

An estimated 3,000 companies within the UK’s process industries operate thermal fluid systems to transfer heat around their manufacturing plants.

ATEX and DSEAR legislation stipulate that these firms must proactively manage the risk associated with their systems in order to protect their employees from risk of explosion. (Read More)


Managing director of Derbyshire-based Thermal Fluid Solutions, Richard Franklin, explains why these companies need to adopt a continuous risk assessment and management programme, and how doing so can save money as well as lives.

The heat transfer media used in thermal fluid systems is typically mineral or synthetic oil.  The systems’ operating temperatures are invariably higher than the “closed cup flash point” of the media; in the presence of a source of ignition, the fluids could ignite.  

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Where such systems operate under high pressure, any leaks from the pipework at points such as flanged joints, valves and connection points, can create mists or sprays, which result in the creation of an explosive atmosphere outside the system.

Thermal fluids operating above their flash points are classified as hazardous substances, as are those handled below their flash points but under pressure.

On ignition, volatile atmospheres result in explosions, and European ATEX (Atmosphère Explosible) legislation - implemented in the UK via DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations) - stipulates requirements for the protection of workers against such incidents arising from the presence of hazardous substances in the workplace.  

While most companies are aware that thermal fluid systems operating above the flash point of the fluid must be maintained according to DSEAR, many do not appreciate that organic thermal fluids based on mineral oils degrade over time.
Degradation can cause a fluid’s flash point to decrease, so that fluids that were not flammable at the operating temperature at installation become flammable.

DSEAR demands that the risks inherent in the use of flammable fluids are assessed and eliminated or reduced.  Regular fluid sampling and analysis is required to ensure that flash points are not exceeded.  If necessary, oil must be replaced or conditioned so that a safe flash point is restored.  

Thermal Fluid Solutions has been helping firms within the process industry to achieve and maintain legislative compliance for 20 years, minimising and managing their risk.  It has clients across a range of sectors, including food, wood panel, petrochemicals and fine chemicals, such as Premier Foods, Dow Chemical Company, Pfizer and Airbus.

While TFS’ development of bespoke comprehensive continuous improvement plans enables clients to meet DSEAR standards, the explosion protection documents that form part of the plans also enable clients to prove their safety credentials to insurers and so reduce their premiums.

One of the main elements of TFS’ work is the reconditioning of customers’ thermal oil in order to maintain appropriate flash points.  The company was the first to offer this service, which is a quick, cost-effective, environmentally sustainable alternative to total fluid replacement: HTfluidfit extends fluid life by a factor of at least 10, saving customers up to 70% of their thermal fluid costs.

TFS provides a comprehensive range of thermal fluid system support, maintenance and risk-management services to process industries worldwide.  It was established in 1996 as Heat Transfer Systems, rebranding to Thermal Fluid Solutions in 2012.

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