New Integrated Risk Assessment Approach Applied in a Graphene Pilot Plant

C. de O. Viana, D.S. Domingues, F. Vieira, C.A. Furtado, G.F.B. Lenz e Silva

Keywords: graphene, risk assessment, nanoHSE


Working with health, safety and environmental (HSE) aspects during the development and life cycle phases of carbon nanomaterials is strategic and decisive for a safe arrival of these products into the market. In view of the absence of exposure limits and the technical challenges of this assessment, the recommendation for implementation of control measures in nanotechnology is still based on the precautionary principle and best practices (safety and environmental control, procedures and training). Thus, linked to the development of these new materials is the development of methodologies for exposure assessment and control measurements. In this scenario, how the analysis of occupational and environmental risks of these processes can be performed? In this work, a new HSE risk assessment approach, that integrates the FMEA (Failure Mode and Effect Analysis) tool adjusted with specific factors related with the exposure of graphene was built and evaluated HSE aspects of new graphene pilot plant. First, operational procedures regarding the manipulation, incorporation or production of graphene are selected. Through the clear understanding of each process flowchart, risks are identified with the teamwork. Then, scores are attributed to different factors, such as: severity, occurrence, detection, quantity, type and range. The risks are calculated and classified. Based on the precautionary principle and HSE nano-specific guides, immediate actions such as space adjustments, acquisition of control equipment and individual protection equipment were performed. However, this integrated approach was essential for the identification and classification of the risks of each procedure. The advantage of this tool is the joint construction of a rank and the inclusion of potential risks considering different points of view. Because of this, a diverse range of risks were identified. From risks related to the need to improve the workers protection (regarding the noise emission, for instance), to the detection of environmental risks related to graphene materials disposal. This integrated approach allows the execution of a more detailed, nano-specific and reliable risk assessment, where specific risks related to the activities using nanomaterials can be identified, considering not only the material specifies but, also general work conditions and the employees safety impressions. In this sense, the establishment of control measurements can be more assertively implemented. It is clear that despite the lack of specific regulations in nanotechnology, proactivity and attention to the implementation of health, safety and environmental strategies ensures the maintenance of a safer working environment. After the implementation of such risk assessment methodology and its continuous improvement and regular evaluation, a more accurate and reliable management of a health, safety and environment aspects of the graphene pilot production plant is in place.