CMSE - Blog | Safety Training & Consultancy

CMSE - Blog | Safety Training & Consultancy


Time to revisit the COVID-19 Return to Work Protocols


Written by Aisling Hegarty, Health & Safety Consultant with CMSE Consultancy​

As infection rates continue to rise in Ireland many businesses now face similar challenges to when the COVID-19 pandemic began last March. As of the 8th of January, non-essential construction works have been shut down with a plan to re-open at the end of January. Other sectors such as retail, hospitality and some manufacturing operations have had to either close or reduce the number of workers in their facilities. However, businesses are hopeful they can re-open again before too long, and with the roll out of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine we are in much different situation to March 2020.

Last year, many businesses had developed their procedures in line with the government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol. In November 2020, the government published an updated version, now called the Work Safely Protocol. This revision reflects the government’s “Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19” and outlines the measures required in the workplaces to prevent spread of COVID-19 and guidance on the safe re-opening of workplaces.

Last year, many businesses had developed their procedures in line with the government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol. In November 2020, the government published an updated version, now called the Work Safely Protocol. This revision reflects the government’s “Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19” and outlines the measures required in the workplaces to prevent spread of COVID-19 and guidance on the safe re-opening of workplaces.

Once businesses are back up and running, they must ensure their protocols are being adhered to and maintained. This can be greatly facilitated through ongoing COVID-19 inspections and auditing programmes.

Implementation of COVID-19 compliance monitoring programmes will ensure:

  • Compliance with protocols and procedures.
  • Identify risks & control measures
  • Improve awareness and morale in the workplace
  • Stakeholder assurance

Businesses face challenging times over the coming weeks. However, now is the time to plan for recovery and a safe return to work for their staff.

(COVID-19 Compliance Support,  Inspection and Auditing Programmes

If you require further information or assistance please contact us via email at i[email protected], by phone at 021 497 8100 or start an instant chat with us via the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.


Process Safety – Characteristics of Combustible Dusts and Powders

Gary Horgan (CMSE Consultancy Manager at the Chris Mee Group) and his team are outlining the path for companies to ensure they are compliant with Part 8 “Explosive Atmospheres at Places of Work” of the Health, Safety & Welfare at Work (General Applications) Regulation 2007 in a series of focussed blogs.

In this latest blog of our series looking at explosion safety, we will be discussing some of the key flammable characteristics of dusts and powders that could pose an explosion hazard.

Understanding these characteristics of the flammable materials on your site is a crucial step in the development of an Explosion Protection Document, as without this information it is impossible to understand the explosion hazards which are present.

The table below is an example of dust and powder characteristics that would typically be included in an Explosion Protection Document; we will look at some of these in more detail below.

Unlike for flammable liquids and gases, these characteristics are often not listed on a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). For common materials, information is available from literature sources such as the GESTIS-DUST-EX database, which is published by the IFA in Germany and is available online. In other cases, the best option is to send samples for explosibility testing.

Lower Explosive Limit

As for the lower flammable/explosive limit for flammable liquids, vapours and gases as discussed in the previous blog, there is a lower explosive limit (LEL) for combustible powders and dusts. The concentration of dust/powder in air must be above the LEL for an explosion to occur.

For powders and dusts, this value is generally quoted in grams per cubic meter (g/m3); for many organic materials, the LEL is in the range of 10 – 50 g/m3.

In practice, establishing the potential concentration of a dust cloud is more difficult than the concentration of a flammable vapour cloud, and so this is often done in a more qualitative way, using previous experience and judgement.

Minimum Ignition Temperature

The minimum ignition temperature, as the name suggests, is the lowest temperature at which a combustible material will ignite. For combustible powders and dusts, there are often two separate ignition temperatures to consider:

  • Dust cloud ignition temperature
  • Layer ignition temperature (also referred to as the glowing temperature)

The dust cloud ignition temperature is the temperature at which a powder will ignite while existing as a dust cloud in air, whereas the layer ignition temperature is the temperature at which a powder will ignite while settled as a 5mm layer on a hot surface. These temperatures are often different, for example granulated sugar has a cloud ignition temperature of ~480 C, and a layer ignition temperature of ~450 C.

It is important to understand both of these ignition temperatures when considering the ambient temperature of your processes, as well as how hot surfaces may get in normal and fault scenarios (e.g. ovens, overheating bearings).

Kst, Pmax and ST Class

These parameters all provide information about how powerful an explosion could be if the dust/powder were to ignite.

  • Kst is the maximum rate of the pressure rise, given in bar.m/s;
  • Pmax is the maximum pressure that will be experienced during an explosion.
  • ST class is one of four classes (St 0 – St 3), and is based on the Kst value, and gives an indication of the damage that could be caused by an explosion.

A material that has zero risk (Kst = 0 bar.m/s) of explosion is an St 0 dust. All other dusts have an explosion hazard. Even a St 1 dust could generate sufficient power to cause a flash fire, compromise containment on a piece of equipment, or blow out the walls of a building. Grains, Sugar, Coal, PVC, Flour, etc. are typically considered St 1 class dusts.

Dust Particle size

When comparing literature values to the material you have on site, it is important to take note of the particle size, particle size distribution, and moisture content. These properties can have a very large impact on how flammable and/or explosive a dust or powder may be. For example, finer powders have a greater surface area, and so may ignite much more readily. Particle size between 0.02 – 0.4mm are considered to pose an explosion hazard. Larger dust particles will be too heavy to stay suspended in air and form a dust cloud. 

Burning Behaviour (BZ)

The BZ number for a material indicates whether and to what extent a fire started by an external ignition source can spread in deposited dust. It is based upon combustibility testing, and has the following definitions:

  • BZ 1 – Does not catch fire
  • BZ 2 – Catches fire briefly and extinguishes rapidly
  • BZ 3 – Local burning without spread
  • BZ 4 – Spread of a glowing fire
  • BZ 5 – Spread of an open fire
  • BZ 6 – Very rapid combustion

CMSE Consultancy  provide a professional Health, Process, Explosion & Fire Safety Services.

If you require further information or assistance please contact us via email at [email protected], by phone at 021 497 8100 or start an instant chat with us via the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.


The Importance Of Record Management: Start 2021 Off On The Right Foot

Record management is an essential element when it comes to training your employees. Having accurate & efficient record management assists in making your learning management system audit compliant. Defining record management can be vast but capturing and maintaining a foundation for an organisation is crucial. Teams rely on information and data to help them work effectively and to build the knowledge for themselves and the organisation as a whole. Security and GDPR compliance also come into play regarding record management for your LMS. Organisations must ensure the storage of documentation, certification and attendance of employees is secure and easily accessible to platform administration. 

The SAFEWARE Team have compiled a list of benefits of keeping your record management in toe for 2021. 


Transport of Dangerous Goods

December 17th 2020
Written by Collette Dunne, Safety Consultant with CMSE Consultancy. 


It might be time to do a review of goods coming and going from your site. Is anything classified as a dangerous good? 

Do you know, transporting dangerous goods, isn’t just the transport on a truck or in a van, but also includes the role of:

  • consignor
  • packer
  • filler
  • loader/unloader and
  • consignee.

Furthermore, the people involved in these activities have legal responsibilities.

What are dangerous goods?

As well as national legislation on the carriage of dangerous goods, we also have the ADR.  ADR is an agreement between United Nations countries to harmonise transport conditions for dangerous goods, to prevent accidents and reduce risks.  It’s updated every two years and specifies how to classify dangerous goods and also the requirements for their transport.  Dangerous goods are classified into:

Class 1: Explosive

Class 2.1: Flammable Gas, 2.2. Non Flammable, Non Toxic Gas, 2.3 Toxic Gas.

Class 3: Flammable Liquid

Class 4.1: Flammable Solid, 4.2 Spontaneously Combustible Substance, 4.3 Substance which emits flammable gas in contact with water.

Class 5.1: Oxidising Substance, 5.2 Organic Peroxide.

Class 6.1: Toxic Substance, 6.2 Infectious Substance

Class 7: Radioactive Material

Class 8: Corrosive Substance

Class 9: Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances.

How will I know if our goods are dangerous goods?

There are a number of things you can do initially.

  • Read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for goods being transported off your site – you should have these readily available. Go to Section 14: Transport Information.  If this section is populated, then you are transporting a dangerous good and you are a Consignor.  It’s important to have the most recent revision of the safety data sheet as information may change and something that wasn’t classified before, may now be classified and vice versa.  Different dangerous goods have different requirements for example, the type of packaging you can use, the maximum weight or volume per package and what other products they can be transported with. 
  • If you don’t have an SDS for your products, an expert can assess them to determine if they are dangerous goods based on their properties.
  • Review materials being delivered to your site. Look at the labels on the outside.  Do they have a diamond shaped, coloured pictogram and a number?  If yes, they may dangerous goods.  If you accept, unload or move them again off-site, then you are involved in the transport of dangerous goods.  All vehicles involved in the carriage of dangerous goods should have orange plates displayed.

Common misunderstandings

  • Our chemical waste is collected by a registered company so the ADR/Regulations don’t apply to us.

Waste is not exempt.  Chemical and other waste can be classified as dangerous goods.  If you are delegating some responsibilities to your waste provider, you should have a Contract of Carriage in place.  You can delegate some responsibilities but not all.

  • We get chemicals delivered through a chemical supplier so they probably look after it.

If you are accepting, unloading or loading then you are involved in their transport.  You might even have requirements around the transport of empty containers, depending on what material was last in them.

  • We only transport very small quantities so the they don’t apply to us.

Even a single package of dangerous goods might fall under the Regulations but you must check.  There are different requirements for limited or excepted quantities with specific conditions.

Why should you learn more?

The cost of a mistake could be huge.  Consider what could happen if you don’t follow the ADR, package something incorrectly, load it with a material that it’s incompatible with or if there was a road accident and no-one knew there was a dangerous good on-board.  You have a moral, financial and legal responsibility to comply. 

So what do I need to do?

  • You may be required to appoint a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA).   There are a few exceptions to the rule. It’s a good idea to get professional advice to confirm whether you are exempt or not.  The function of the DGSA is monitor and advise on compliance and prepare an annual report. 
  • Confirm who in the organisation is involved in transport activities. These workers may require function specific training.
  • Talk to your carriers to confirm that their drivers are competent. Drivers must complete ADR training relevant to the different classifications and the types of packaging (packages, IBCs, drums, tanks).  It’s up to you to inform your carrier of what is to be transported. 

If you would like a review of your activities or other DGSA support, please contact the CMSE Consultancy Team

Chat to us instantly by clicking the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Alternatively, you can click here to email [email protected]


Importance of Safety Leadership in the time of COVID-19

Leadership in COVID-19 time is more important than ever!

While it was unusual to attend the Health and Safety Review Conference online this year, we certainly agreed strongly with the central theme of the event this year – safety leadership is more important than ever.  The event theme focused on the challenges of working during the current pandemic and how it is essential for leaders within an organisation to maintain a positive safety culture. These are indeed strange times for many organisations. Many employees continue to work under infection prevention regimes, while many others work from home, physically isolated from the normal workplace environment and their colleagues. We should not forget people in certain more affected sectors who are concerned about their future as employers face continuing commercial uncertainty.

During the conference Neil Lenehan, HSQE Manager for Irish Water, delivered a presentation on implementing an effective H&S strategy, and provided an insight into the Irish Water journey in safety and the importance of vision, strategy and leadership during the COVID-19 era. Irish Water’s ‘Work Safe Home Safe’ framework is based on 5 key pillars to building a safety culture within an organisation:

  1. Leadership and safety culture
  2. Safe workplaces
  3. Safe ways of working
  4. Safe delivery partners
  5. Health and wellbeing

These pillars facilitated the organisation to navigate through their COVID-19 journey and the obstacles of the new homeworking situation. When Neil was asked by a participant how an organisation can ensure people will continue to be motivated when working from home, he outlined how an employee’s mental health as the leading concern. He recommended engagement with workers through increased social contact, and not just to discuss work but to simply ask your employees “how are you?”.  

This simple message certainly resonated with us in relation to our own team, who like many have effectively been working from home since early March. While large organisations can have teams, plans and programmes to address safety, mental health and well being for employees, it is key for leaders at all levels, and in organisations and teams of all sizes, to do the small, simple things that will make a difference. This can be as simple as a regular call from a team lead to have a chat and see how things are going and listen to the employee’s concerns. Across organisations there will be a wide range of home circumstances in which employees find themselves. Homeworking for a prolonged period can lead to a sense of isolation or loneliness in employees. There is mounting evidence that there is a drop in the mental and physical health of employees as a whole from prolonged home working.

A duty of care of exists on employers to ensure their employees’ ‘place of work’ is safe and suitable. A good approach to monitoring an employees’ health and safety at home is through a homeworking assessment. The assessment considers both the working environment and work equipment. It examines posture and behaviours to mitigate musculoskeletal discomfort and strain. Employees appreciate the assessments, and it is a clear statement that an employer wants to ensure employees are comfortable and well setup for working at home.

Leadership is about setting people up for success. Employees need the physical tools for effective and productive home working, but they also need an environment that is supportive, where leaders display empathy and where there are supports available when required. Engaging with employees, ensuring that the remote working situation is not negatively impacting their health and wellbeing is a proactive and positive step in the duty of care for employees – it will reap due reward.

During these uncertain times, communication, engagement, and visual commitment in safety leadership is more important than ever. We are working with employers to provide support for their employees in this COVID-19 era and you would like to talk about safety leadership, homeworking assessments or ergonomic programmes please contact the CMSE Consultancy team.

Chat to us instantly by clicking the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Alternatively, you can click here to email [email protected]

You may also be interested in:

  • TOP 3 COVID-19 FAQs Read More
  • Chemical Agents Risk Assessments Read More
  • The Ergonomic Hazard of Prolonged Postures Read More
  • Machinery Safety Update from Aisling Hegarty, Health & Safety Consultant Read More