AD plant HSE inspections – what you need to know

26 July 2022

Farm safety
An aerial view of an anaerobic digestion plant on a farm

The HSE is running an inspection campaign on farm AD plants and intends to visit 50 farm sites. Find out what the inspections will include, how you'll be notified of a visit and what training is available. 

The HSE is currently arranging appointments with 50 AD plants on farm sites. HSE will contact farm sites from July 2022.

There are currently around 420 AD plants on farm sites in Great Britain. 

Although AD technology has been used for many years in other sectors it is relatively new to farming. The presence of large amounts of flammable gas in pipework and vessels is not a common farming risk. It requires careful and planned management.

Farms may not be familiar with some of the regulations covering AD plants such as DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations).

Maintenance and hot work

In December 2020, four people died in an explosion at an AD plant in Avonmouth operated by Wessex Water. The plant processed human sewage.

Following the incident, the HSE carried out inspections at 25 AD plants operated on non-farm sites.

Inspections found a 50% non-compliance rate with concerns including:

  • Adequate management of maintenance activities and in particular the control of hot work ( such as work involving the use of grinders and welding equipment)
  • Deficiencies in the risk assessment required under DSEAR

What to expect from the inspection

The HSE wants to discuss safety management with technically competent people, therefore all visits will be by appointment.

HSE inspectors will look at:

  • Compliance DSEAR
  • Hazardous area classification
  • Confined space entry
  • Maintenance arrangements
  • Control of contractors

Timescales

The HSE will start to make contact with selected sites from July.

Inspections will take place between October 2022 and March 2023.

Health and safety training

ADBA (Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association) is running a “Health and safety in AD” training course on 11 October 2022. Find at more at: ADHB | Health and safety training

NFU members can also contact NFU CallFirst for advice: Call: 0370 845 8458 

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