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  • administered by

    Risk ControlFire safety in the electroplating industry

    RC45First published 2010 Version 01

  • 2 3

    IMPORTANT NOTICE

    This document has been developed through the RISCAuthority andpublished by the Fire Protection Association (FPA). RISCAuthoritymembership comprises a group of UK insurers that actively supporta number of expert working groups developing and promulgatingbest practice for the protection of people, property, business and theenvironmentfromlossduetofireandotherrisks.Thetechnicalexpertisefor this document has been provided by the Technical Directorate oftheFPA, external consultants, andexperts from the insurance industrywhotogetherformthevariousRISCAuthorityWorkingGroups.Althoughproducedwithinsurerinputitdoesnot(andisnotintendedto)representapan-insurerperspective.Individualinsurancecompanieswillhavetheirown requirements which may be different from or not reflected in thecontentofthisdocument.

    The FPA has made extensive efforts to check the accuracy of theinformationandadvicecontained in thisdocumentand it isbelievedtobeaccurateatthetimeofprinting.However,theFPAmakesnoguarantee,representation or warranty (express or implied) as to the accuracy orcompleteness of any information or advice contained in this document.Alladviceandrecommendationsarepresentedingoodfaithonthebasisofinformation,knowledgeandtechnologyasatthedateofpublicationofthisdocument.

    Withoutprejudice to thegeneralityof the foregoing, theFPAmakesnoguarantee, representation or warranty (express or implied) that thisdocumentconsidersallsystems,equipmentandproceduresorstate-of-the-arttechnologiescurrentatthedateofthisdocument.

    Use of, or reliance upon, this document, or any part of its content, isvoluntary and is at the users own risk. Anyone considering using orimplementinganyrecommendationoradvicewithinthisdocumentshouldrelyonhisorherownpersonal judgementor,asappropriate,seek theadviceofacompetentprofessionalandrelyonthatprofessionalsadvice.Nothinginthisdocumentreplacesorexcludes(norisintendedtoreplaceor exclude), entirely or in part, mandatory and/or legal requirementshowsoever arising (including without prejudice to the generality of theforegoinganysuchrequirementsformaintaininghealthandsafetyintheworkplace).

    Except to the extent that it is unlawful to exclude any liability, the FPAaccepts no liability whatsoever for any direct, indirect or consequentiallossordamagearisinginanywayfromthepublicationofthisdocumentoranypartofit,oranyuseof,orrelianceplacedon,thecontentofthisdocumentoranypartofit.

    CONTENTS

    Scope 3

    Synopsis 3

    Definitions 3

    Introduction 3

    Potentialfirehazards 4

    1.Construction/location 4

    2.Processheatingandelectricalinstallations 4

    3.FireProtection 5

    4.FireSafetymanagement 6

    5.Generalrecommendations 6

    6.Checklist 8

    References 14

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    SCOPE

    Theserecommendationsoutlinethepropertyprotectionmeasures

    appropriatetotheelectroplating industryeitheras independent

    operationsoraspartofcombinedindustrialprocesses.

    This document is specific to electroplating processes and

    excludeselectrodelessplatingsuchashot-dippedgalvanising.

    SYNOPSIS

    These recommendations provide advice regarding property

    protectionmeasuresthatshouldbeobservedwhenundertaking

    electroplatinginheatedtanksinanypartofanindustrialprocess.

    The potential fire hazards are outlined and advice is set out

    concerningthelocationoftheoperations,electricalinstallations,

    suitable fire protection measures and the management of the

    operation.

    DEFINITIONS

    Electrodeless plating

    Electrodeless plating, which falls outside the scope of this

    document, is a chemical process whereby a metal coating is

    achievedbyimmersingametalornon-metallicobjectinasuitable

    bathcontainingachemicalreducingagentwithouttheuseofan

    electricalcurrent.Hot-dippedgalvanisingisanexample.

    INTRODUCTION

    Electroplatingisaprocessofcoatingametalobjectwithanother

    metalusingdirectcurrentpassedthroughasuitablechemical

    solution.Coatingsmayincludechromium,nickel,zinc,copper,

    brassand,insomespecialistapplicationssuchastheaviation

    industry,cadmium.

    Platingoperationsmaybestand-alonebusinesses,whichare

    usuallysmalltomediuminsizeormaybepartofotherindustrial

    operations, such as in the aircraft, electronic and jewellery

    manufacturingindustries.

    Processes may involve the heavy coating of hard metals like

    chromium on machine parts while others may involve light

    coatings to domestic items, vehicle components, ornamental

    items,steelitems(requiringcorrosionprotection)andduringthe

    manufactureofelectroniccircuitboards.

    Platingprocessesofteninvolvethecoatingofanarticlewithone

    metal typeasabaseprior toa finalcoatingwithanother.An

    examplewouldbethenickelorcopperplatingofanarticleprior

    tobeingplatedwithchromium.

    In addition to the plating process, a number of support

    processesandfunctionsmayformpartofthebusiness.These

    mayincludeoffices,effluentplants,electropolishingprocesses

    for stainless steel or similar and jig, maintenance and vehicle

    workshops.

    The actual metal treatment process is likely to involve metal

    preparation intheformofstripping,degreasingandpolishing;

    electroplating;metalfinishingthatmay involve thepolishingof

    plateditemsorthecoatingofornamentalitemsthathavebeen

    copperorbrassplatedwithaclearlacquertoinhibittarnishing.

    Although this document addresses property protection

    requirements,someoftherecommendationsarealsoapplicable

    tolifesafety.Themeasureswillthereforesupplementthefindings

    of thefire riskassessmentconducted tomeet theRegulatory

    Reform(FireSafety)Order2005inEnglandandWales(ref.1)and

    equivalentlegislationinScotlandandNorthernIreland(refs.2,3

    and4).Premiseswhereelectroplatingoperationsarecarriedout

    willalsoneedtobeassessedincompliancewiththeDangerous

    SubstancesandExplosiveAtmospheresRegulations(DSEAR)

    2002(ref.5).

    Process Activity Potential fire hazards

    Metal preparation

    Strippingofcomponentsanddegreasing

    Solvent-baseddegreasersElectricalinstallationsandequipment

    Polishingandpreparationofcomponentsforplating

    ElectricalinstallationsandequipmentCombustiblematerials,suchaspolishingmopsandassociatedpackagingCombustibledustsfrompolishingmopsinuseonpolishingmachines.Accumulationsofcombustiblewaste

    Electroplating process

    Coatingofmetalobjectswithanothermetal,suchaszinc,copper,brass,nickel,chromiumandcadmium,usinganelectricalcurrentpassedthroughachemicalsolution

    Electricalinstallationsandequipmentincludingcables,pumps,processheatingunits,transformers,rectifiers,exhaustfansandportableelectricalequipment

    Plastictanksandplastic-orrubber-linedtanks.PlasticextractionhoodsandductingPossibleevolutionofhydrogengasduringtheplatingprocessAccumulationsofcombustiblewasteandrubbish

    Metal finishing

    Polishingofplateditemswhererequired

    CombustibledustfrompolishingmopsonpolishingmachinesElectricalinstallations,machineryandequipmentLimitedcombustiblepackaging

    Coatingofornamentalitemswithclearlacquereitherbydippingorspraying

    FlammableliquidsinopencontainerswhendippingFlammableliquidinatomisedformifapplicationisbysprayingElectricalinstallationsandequipment

    Support processes and functions

    Jig,maintenanceandvehicleworkshops

    ElectricalinstallationsandequipmentFlammableliquids,suchaslubricantsandparaffin-baseddegreasing

    agentsnormallyassociatedwithworkshopsFlammablegases,suchasLPGLimitedcombustiblepackagingAccumulationsofcombustiblewasteandrubbish

    EffluentplantPlastictanksElectricalinstallationsandequipment,suchasmotorsandcables

    Table 1: Key fire hazards at electroplating premises

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    POTENTIAL FIRE HAZARDS

    Electroplating processes usually involve damp environments

    using plating solutions that may be corrosive, reactive and

    perhapstoxic,ratherthanflammable.

    Fire hazards encountered are likely to include electrical

    equipment and installations and the presence of limited

    quantities of flammable materials. Hazards may also include

    plastic extraction hoods and ducting, plastic tanks or plastic

    linedtanksfittedwithelectricimmersionheatersandtheuseof

    flammableliquidsforcertainfinishingprocessesorthoselocated

    intheworkshops.Thereisalsoachancethatflammablegases

    maybepresentonsite.

    Asisthecasewithall industries,it isimportantthatthekeyfire

    hazards are identified and are removed, reduced or managed

    accordingly(seeTable1).

    RECOMMENDATIONS

    1. Construction/location

    1.1 Where possible, electroplating operations should be

    locatedinaseparatebuilding,awayfromotherprocesses.

    1.2 Where this is not practical, the electroplating process

    should be separated from other important or business

    criticalareasby60-minutesfireresistantconstruction.

    1.3 Anyopeningsaroundservicepenetrationsinthefire-rated

    construction should be fire-stopped with a suitable

    proprietary material affording a minimum of 60-minutes

    fireresistance.

    1.4 Containmentanddrainageprovisionsshouldbeprovided

    forareascontainingtanks.

    1.5 Drainagesystemsshouldbedesignedtoavoidthemixing

    ofincompatiblematerials.

    1.6 Toxic solutions should not be released into groundwater

    drains,butshouldberetainedonsiteforsafedisposalbya

    licensedcontractor.

    1.7 Fumeand/orsmokeextractionfacilitiesshouldbeprovided.

    Theseshouldbe independentof theservices fromother

    plantareas.

    2. Process heating and electrical installations

    2.1 All electrical instal