Doug Thornton, chief executive of the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) said that some small manufacturers in particular might not be aware of their responsibilities in this area.
He was speaking to Food Manufacture in the wake of new guidance issued by the association. Its guidance note 11 ‘The Management of Risk When Using Gases in Enclosed Spaces’ has been expanded to cover all gases that can potentially be released in the workplace and provided advice on what to do in emergency situations.
The guidance previously focused on asphyxiant atmospheres only. Thornton said that there had been a huge expansion in the food sector as many gases were used in the packaging of food products, such as cryogenic gases. He also warned about confined spaces such as storage rooms being areas to consider.
“The big guys have health and safety managers and work with suppliers. But we find a lot of people get it wrong and are not aware of the risks,” Thornton said.
“GN11 provides guidance that can be used in the assessment of risk associated with gases in enclosed workplaces, helping identify where hazardous atmospheres may occur and advising on control measures that may be appropriate.
“Incidents can occur and can be serious, so it is an important piece of information to ensure workplaces are protected.”
Thornton added that the guidance had been produced in accordance with BCGA’s commitment to safety in the compressed gases industry.
“The compressed gases sector is the UK’s ‘invisible industry,’ with industrial, medical and food gases playing a critical role in many aspects of life, underpinning a safe, successful and healthy nation,” he said.
“Members of BCGA operate in a highly-regulated industry and work together on technical, safety, health and environmental issues to achieve high standards of integrity and environmental care, both within their own and customers’ working environments.”