Contamination in confined spaces can be a major issue for those dealing with large structures in the food production system, and is also one of the biggest dangers for those who work in such an environment.
Confined spaces are common within the industry, and in no place more so than in agricultural silos. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Confined Spaces definition is:
“a place which is substantially closed and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space.”
These storage facilities for bulk materials such as grain, flour and cattle feed are extremely effective in keeping food stocks, but it is essential that they are regularly maintained and cared for, so as to operate most effectively. The best way for this to happen is through silo maintenance.
It is absolutely essential to have silos maintained at regular periods, apart from being best practice and necessary for safety, it is can also be extremely cost effective to the end users of silos and their contents.
Regular silo cleaning stops stock from spoiling and ensures that contamination risks are kept to a minimum. It helps to aid the rotation of the stock kept within silos and also reduces the risks and dangers of everyday silo use.
However, silo working still has considerable dangers, not only in terms of limited space to enter and exit, but also in terms of atmospheric dangers – such as a lack of oxygen, a build-up of harmful gases, or particulate within the atmosphere of the space. Silo cleaning professionals must adhere to strict regulations in order to make sure that all risks are calculated, and indeed, silo maintenance professionals should carry out a confined spaces risk assessment before embarking on servicing and maintenance. This aids safety and also enables silo cleaners to find the best solution to tackle any problem that arises.
The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 thoroughly lay out preventative measures to ensure that health and safety procedures make it a safe working environment. These regulations provide a breakdown of possible scenarios in which dangers can occur, and look at ways in which hazards, types of space, and atmospheric changes should be dealt with.