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Eliminating Hazardous Products: Control of the Transport of Chemicals to Reduce Costs and Risks

Content provided by PREMAnet, content partner of SME Toolkit


A Small Scale Tannery Close to Chennai / India

In brief

During the manual transport of corrosive chemicals from the storage containers, as well as during dosing of the materials in the tanning drums, the workers regularly suffer spilling. Contact of skin with hazardous materials poses a substantial health risk to the workers. A simple mechanism, which significantly reduced health risks, was used to facilitate transport and dosage.  By avoiding manual loading and handling of chemicals, the spillage of chemicals that used to happen on a daily basis is avoided.

The challenge

For transferring corrosive chemicals (for example sulfuric acid for pickling) from large vessels to small buckets, employees usually used small spoons or chemical containers inclined to a certain angle. During the dosage of chemicals in the tanning drums, the workers had to climb up a staircase to the entrance hole, while at the same time carrying the materials in an open bucket lifting the bucket to pour the content into the drum through a small opening. During this process, the mix of chemicals spilled frequently onto the unprotected skin of the workers and onto the floor.

Actions taken within the enterprise (after application of the PREMA GHK guide)

As a first step, the tannery provided its workers with work gloves that are corrosion proof.

To control the transfer of chemicals from the containers, a hand pump was bought. The hand pump has been protected against corrosion by applying an inner lining in a local workshop.  With this device, workers can now pump corrosive chemicals from a large container into a smaller one, as well as from the vessel into the tanning drums.

A glass tube with a scale to indicate the level of liquid remaining in the container was placed in the smaller container (which was converted for this use from a chemical waste container). This allows one to (1) control the quantities transferred from the main chemical container and (2) monitor and control the quantities needed. Furthermore, every small container is now labelled and used only for the transfer of certain chemicals.

The smallest containers are placed in a cart to avoid manual transport and to allow easier handling.

Environmental benefits

The spill of chemicals that used to occur every day in the production areas due to manual handling and the use of open buckets has been reduced significantly. This simple change in practice for transferring of chemicals has reduced the risk of soil and ground water contamination.

Economic benefits

Investment Costs

$ 90

For the purchase of a hand pump ($80)

For the modification of a small chemical drum and the acquisition of a scale ($ 10)

Operational costs

$10

For the coating of a manual pump with anti-corrosive material

Yearly savings

$125 *

Due to the reduction of the loss of chemicals

Payback period

9 months

 

* This amount does not take into account the additional savings on employee medical costs.

Improvements of occupational health and safety

The use of a low-cost hand pump allows that the chemicals that are being stored in large containers can be transferred in a closed system and in a way that is reducing the risk to inhale vapor, aerosols and/or fumes released during the transfer. This new procedure avoids the loss of valuable material and reduces the possibility that the chemicals make direct contact with the skin of the workers.

Additionally, the acquisition of a hand cart to transport hazardous materials to the production area reduces the loading weight and therefore lessens worker fatigue. Providing employees with gloves improved the occupational safety standards and the security of the tannery. Improving the working conditions and health protection and taking measures to reduce the risk of fire and accidents can lead to reduced insurance costs for the company.

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