07 February 2018

Never Underestimate the Risk of Explosion in a Freight and Logistics Warehouse  

Mandatory Safety Changes Which Fork Lift Truck Operators Should Know

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Shipping News Feature UK – EUROPE – One of the greatest fears in a freight warehouse is that of an accident but for the average cargo handler the risk of an explosion is one that is rarely, if ever, considered. Apart from the obvious risks in many a logistics operation, an expression of liquid gas when changing a fork lift truck bottle, an accidental spillage of fuel, and similar occurrences which spring to mind, and exactly the type of incident which should normally countered by proper Health and Safety protocols, most warehousemen will have never encountered a serious explosion, and indeed given it much thought.

Whilst the hazard may be an irregular one for most handling general freight, for many working in a specific warehouse environment however the risk of explosion is a constant possibility, and the Zone 2 hazardous areas concerned can be some which most outsiders might consider innocuous, a whisky distillery for example, besides the more obvious chemical and paint stores. The EN 1755:2015 is a European standard that supersedes EN1755:2000 and became mandatory from November 2017. The new standard changes affect any manufacturing or logistics business using a system to alert lift truck drivers to the presence of an explosive atmosphere.

Fork lift trucks need to be ATEX compliant and the new changes affect the technical makeup of all ATEX 2014/34/EU truck conversions. It has led to changes to any device or controller carrying out a safety function, which includes the gas detection systems that alert the driver. In addition to the systems that alert the driver, EN1755 changes have affected tyre, seat, battery and other ancillary product requirements. Service engineers also need to be trained for the new requirements. Brief details of the changes can be seen on this video.

Such handling equipment needs to comply to the ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU of the European Parliament and the companies which manufacture such detection equipment, such as UK headquartered Pyroban, which can trace its roots to 1969 when the accidental release and ignition of a flammable vapour by a diesel engine at an ICI plant led on to the original company being established 3 years later. The new rules mean the company’s safety systems have had to evolve to fulfil the latest requirements. Pyroban’s Rob Vesty, explains:

“In Zone 2 hazardous areas, an explosive atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation. If it does occur, it will persist for a short time only, possibly due to an accident, which is why forklift driver awareness is so important.”

“Driver awareness is an important safety factor in Zone 2 as the explosive atmosphere is not expected. In Zone 1 applications, passive protection is used as trucks need to operate through the explosive atmosphere. EN1755 also applies to these conversions. We are encouraging those responsible and liable for placing explosion protected forklift trucks on the market, and users, to talk to us directly to understand how these changes affect them.”

Pyroban’s system6000 was developed to work with other types of mobile equipment such as cranes and access platforms as well as fork trucks. It combines gas detection with various explosion protection methods such as restricted breathing enclosures, stainless steel cladding of forks and surface temperature cooling to ensure the engine, motors, brakes, electrics and other components remain below the auto-ignition temperatures of flammable materials.

The system complements the latest technologies seen in lift truck design including energy performance and ergonomics, and is suitable for all types of materials handling equipment such as VNA, pallet, picking, counterbalance and reach truck designs.

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