The issue of storing powders is high on the agenda at present, in particular with respect to hazardous areas containing wood flour.

Events in Bosley, combined with an HSE crackdown on improper storage of wood dusts, are just one component in the overall issue of storing powdered substances in a way that avoids disaster.

An article in the trade publication Powder & Bulk Solids looks at some of the issues – including a lack of confidence in some of the hazardous area equipment intended to protect against incidents.

“The key issue with many pre-existing silo safety systems is the lack of adequate ground-level testing capabilities, meaning that operators don’t know if they will work when needed,” the article explains.

Accessing systems on top of silos is a hazard in itself, as it brings working at height risks into play, while testing the systems may be impossible without removing them – and putting the whole silo at risk until they are returned.

The concerns demonstrate the importance of choosing reliable hazardous area equipment with remote testing capabilities wherever possible.

Low maintenance demands and the ability to confirm that the system is fully functional can remove the need to scale structures and run manual tests at height – while maintaining high levels of confidence in the protection conferred.