Vent access restriction for solids handling systems



A multi-disciplinary team developed a guideline for determining access restriction zones around vented solids handling equipment. The guideline provides a method for ensuring the discharge from a vented explosion will not cause injury to personnel. The steps in this method include: calculating the extent of external hazards from vented explosions; identifying potential areas where personnel could be exposed to a hazard; identifying ways to eliminate or reduce the hazard area; and establishing and documenting any access restrictions needed. Hazard zone calculations use the latest knowledge from research into fireball size, flame length and external pressure equations in VDI 3673. The guideline provides guidance for using this information. Options for mitigating or reducing external hazards from vented explosions are also described. As part of the project, the team audited several solids handling systems to look for potential oversights in existing restricted access areas. Some of the team's learnings from these audits are reviewed.