|Pain like this and far worse will be the harsh reality for Anaerobic Digestion plant workers and management if the young industry does not pay more attention to safety on its sites.|
To date in the UK it is fortunate that there has (as far as we know) only been one biogas fatality, when a 29-year-old man was overcome by methane fumes at a farm anaerobic digester unit, but according to Landia, the thirst of the young industry to grow and become profitable has moved far faster than basic health and safety regulations.
“Our experience at some sites, quite frankly, has been a joke”, states Landia’s Paul Davies.
“Recently we were asked to work up 8-metre ladders with large drills, which we explained we couldn’t and wouldn’t even consider doing because it’s totally unsafe – and is of course against all health and safety laws and Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. It wasn’t that the customer was trying to cut corners; they simply didn’t know. Maybe this is to be expected in a young industry? – but if that’s the case there needs to be some immediate training and education”.
Davies points to Landia’s 97% pass rate for UVDB VERIFY Approval, but says this exacting standard, which covers all areas of Health & Safety, Quality and Environment, Management Systems and On-Site actions, isn’t recognised by the AD industry. He says that promotion and direction from trade associations needs to be significantly improved, with a minimum standard implemented very soon.
Landia’s UK & Eire Director Hugh Vaughan said:
“This isn’t just another ‘what if’, or one of those ‘perish the thought’ plugs for safety or insurance. What Landia have witnessed both in the UK and abroad is frightening. So far it’s just pure good fortune that serious accidents haven’t happened”.
He continued: “Apart from shouting out a suitable four-letter warning or such like, there isn’t much you can say when, with your own eyes, you see somebody perched on the edge of a high top rail of a tank whilst he’s unclipping a membrane cover that happens to be partially inflated. Or young workmen walking over the top of a partially unclipped membrane when the digester is full!
“Don’t take a chance. Consider the consequences before placing that biogas order, and make sure those you’ve chosen to work with a company that has a proper understanding of how a biogas plant works, how to maintain it, and how to do it safely”.
Read more at Landia's web site, click here.
Is it possible that Farming Industry and other AD Plant clients are not aware of their responsibilities for Health and Safety in the way in which other industries are? Managers and indeed anyone commisioning contractors to come onto the site of an Anaerobic Digestion Plant within all small businesses are responsible for ensuring that they provide all necessary H&S information to the Contractor. They must also ensure that their appointed contractors have demonstrated to them their competence for carrying out such works safely, before they award work to them.
This should include providing a Method Statement and Working Methods for the work to be done, and which must include DSEAR Compliance where any explosion risk is also potentially present. For DSEAR advice contact firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for DSEAR compliance information for AD Plants.