This OC informs inspectors about DUST-EXPERT, a consultative expert system on the topic of dust explosions, developed by HSE.
1 DUST-EXPERT is a consultative expert system developed by HSE, which is now being made available selectively within HSE and also marketed worldwide by the Institution of Chemical Engineers. The programme has been developed to a rigorous quality assured standard so that HSE can be confident that legal issues concerning liability have been fully addressed.
2 DUST-EXPERT is intended mainly as a design tool, for those industries which handle explosible dusts, such as the food and animal feeds producers, many types of larger woodworking factories, and parts of the chemical industry. It will also be of value to those who assess the safety of existing plant including inspectors and independent consultants. The programme contains a number of modules, and not all users may need to make use of the whole programme.
3 The modules are:
(1) a series of decision trees, which take the user through a check list of basic questions that should be addressed at the early stages of plant design;
(2) a calculation module, which has a very large number of calculation routines drawn from existing technical literature enabling the user to calculate important parameters relating to explosion vent design;
(3) a strength module, which contains new calculation routines, based on research funded by HSE, to enable the user to design plant to a pressure shock resistant standard, or to assess existing plant;
(4) a large database of dust properties; and
(5) an extensive help system with much relevant text relating to dust explosions.
4 An important part of the system is the ability to print out the calculations performed, including all the relevant design parameters. Provided these records are kept, it should help inspectors assess whether a particular plant has been suitably designed, and continues to be operated within its design parameters.
5 The calculation sections in particular assume a certain amount of relevant expertise in the user. Thus, the strength module requires an understanding of mechanical stress analysis, and the user will have to make some simplifying assumptions about a particular structure and be aware of features that could make these assumptions seriously invalid.
6 DUST-EXPERT does not attempt to interpret the law, nor give guidance on the law. It gives best technical advice, and the minimum standard of precautions enforceable under health and safety law will normally be less than this. Inspectors will of course be used to making judgements in specific circumstances about the enforceability of particular precautions. However, as design information in relation to dust explosions has become more sophisticated, a common theme has been to reduce the cost of providing adequate protection to process plant. DUST-EXPERT should enable designers to use an extensive body of knowledge to design safe plant more cost effectively.
7 Within HSE the main users were anticipated to be process safety and mechanical engineering inspectors in RSGs, and sector groups with responsibility for particular industries. The system is being provided to these users. Others may have adequate understanding of the subject and sufficiently regular involvement with the industries concerned to make use of the system.
8 As with the supply of any other software, a business case must be made for the system to be provided. The costs to be covered in a business case must include the costs of discs produced to a quality system, installation by Integris, and ongoing support.
9 It is hoped that the system is sufficiently user friendly to be operated without specific training, but this issue will be reassessed in the light of response from users.
10 Queries by inspectors concerning the system should be directed to DST E5. Queries by outside bodies interested in seeing or buying the system should be directed to the Institution of Chemical Engineers, 165 Railway Terrace, Rugby, tel 01788 578214.
11 OM 1993/152 -cancel and destroy.
22 August 1997
Disc Ref: J:\Editors\CA1\ocfiles\283_17.sam
Computer(s): design: dust(s): explosions: Institute of Chemical Engineers.