UK Chemical Reaction Hazards Forum
The UK Chemical Reaction Hazards Forum is a group of process safety scientists, from different companies, who meet at regular intervals to share knowledge and experiences of recent chemical incidents, within their own companies, with the aim of preventing a repeat of the incident at a different location. They further try extend this aim to assist smaller companies, many of whom will not have access to the sophisticated equipment of the forum members, by publishing these incidents and near-misses on a web site.
Prior to 1995, the main source of data pertaining to chemical reaction incidents was the regulatory bodies (e.g. HSE in UK), following the investigation (and maybe) prosecution post incident. There was very little data that could be obtained regarding incidents and near-misses that fell outside this area. By this time the majority of the larger chemical companies all had some sort of Process safety section, either as a stand-alone unit or as part of a Process development area – increasing amounts of safety studies are needed as the scale is increased. Workers in this field were becoming acquainted with those in other companies, due to a rapid rise in the number of specialist safety testing equipment (most notably the Accelerating Rate Calorimeter and the Metter-Toledo RC1 Reaction Calorimeter) In 1994 two of these safety scientists got together with the idea of creating a forum for free and unbiased information exchange. They contacted many of the companies with known process safety sections, and an inaugural meeting in May 1995 was achieved, with people representing 15 different companies plus the addition of an academic expert in chemical reaction incidents from the South Bank University.
The forum size has been kept to around 15 members. The forum is non-profit organization, and has no need to raise funds as all meetings are carried out at the members sites on a rota basis. Due to the many mergers and divestments over the years since its start, there has had to be quite a few changes, and the newer companies have been invited to join to keep the numbers viable.
The members are typically senior safety scientists, often at a managerial level, from the major UK chemical companies, including:-
- Alfa Aesar
- Ciba Specialty Chemicals
- Evonik Industries
- Grosvenor Chemicals
- London South Bank University
- Merck Sharp and Dohme
- Nicholas Piramal
- Sigma Aldrich
The incident data on the web site has been obtained from all over the world, not just in the UK. Many of the members have global sites, which report back to them. In addition there is some data which has been freely supplied from other individuals and companies, via the e-mail links on the web site. In all cases the data is made anonymous, so that there can be no link back to the originator – otherwise it would be unlikely that the majority of the data would ever have been released.
Many adedemic chemistry departments have installed links to the site on their own web pages, to facilitate their students education in reaation hazards.