Site Evaluations and Line Modifications
What are the key steps to minimize enzyme handling risk? Enzyme use in personal care products presents risks for plant personnel that must be addressed with a balance of engineered controls and operational changes. EPIC ‘s enzyme handling evaluation engineers provide solutions that are immediately actionable. We balance the cost of engineered controls with simple operational changes in combination with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
Enzymes are special proteins that allow living organisms to break materials down into their basic components. Certain enzymes are used in commercial and industrial processes, such as making: bread, cheese, beer and wine.
The personal care industry utilizes enzymes as an ingredient, because they assist the process of breaking down food and organic elements. Enzymes are replacing phosphates and other cleaning agents that are no longer allowed. They provide an excellent option to break down proteins and starch stains such as: grass, gravy and blood.
Who should be worried about enzyme exposure? Manufacturing workers exposed to large amount of enzymes on a recurring basis, need to be concerned with health risks related to enzymes. Consumers are not in danger of health risks associated with enzymes when they use products containing enzymes in their homes.
If an employee inhales an enzyme frequently, or for long periods of time, the employee may become sensitized to the enzyme. Exposure for a short time, to a high level of enzymes, may also sensitize someone to enzymes. Skin contact with enzymes does not cause sensitization. Once you become sensitized to enzymes, you will always be sensitized to those same enzymes.
People who have become sensitized to enzymes may experience allergy-like symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Puffy eyes or face
- Scratchy throat
- Watery or scratchy eyes
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing (asthma-like symptoms)
- Skin irritation
Line evaluations, with experienced enzyme handling engineers, are important to the health of your workers. EPIC will perform a complete enzyme handling line evaluation in your facility. Both new lines and existing equipment can be examined for manufacturers and contract facilities. EPIC will examine the enzyme containment, handling and typical working environment. Comprehensive recommendations are provided to keep employees safe. Both liquid (liquid granulates) and powder (solid granulates) can be evaluated.
A preliminary visual inspection of your on-site system will cover:
- Raw material storage
- Blending areas
- Packaging areas
- Plant personnel
- Space segregation
- Operations overview
- Maintenance procedures
Compared to other enzyme handling companies, we will determine the right path to safely introduce enzymes. This could include physical modifications (engineered controls) and operational changes to your manufacturing process.
Our project managers have over 10 years of experience working with enzymes, and advocate a practical approach to enzyme handling evaluations. We believe you get a better solution by combining engineered controls with smart and simple operational changes. Frequency and duration of contact are thoroughly examined for all employees potentially exposed to enzymes.
We reduce the need for PPE as long as it is cost effective to manage enzymes solely through engineered controls. At this point, operations must be changed. Operators can wear different levels of PPE (personal protection equipment), undergo specialized training, and instructional signage can be posted.
After reviewing your facility, EPIC will provide recommendations for making your process safe for enzymes. Our philosophy is to provide a concise list of actionable items that cover:
- Engineered controls
- Potential changes to operations and procedure protocols
- PPE (personal protection equipment)
- Maintenance guidelines
- Safety guidelines
Basic recommendations and safety guidelines are listed below. To see examples of specific recommendations, read the enzyme handling case study.
- Eliminate Visible Dust: No dust should be visible in the air or on the floor.
- Eliminate recurring spills or leakage: Any problems with product leaking and/or spilling must be solved as quickly as possible.
- Eliminate Gross Skin Contact: Long-term or heavy contact with enzyme dust or powder should be prevented using PPE and small quantities of dust should be removed by frequently washing exposed areas (hands)
- Treat All Empty Containers or Cartons as Full: If spillage of product is unknown – treat as if it is an enzyme product
Basic Safety Guidelines All Manufacturers Using Enzymes Should Follow:
- MOST IMPORTANT: No visible dust outside of contained spaces. Do not allow liquid spills to dry and evaporate in non-contained spaces.
- Use portable vacuum (with HEPA filter) or connection to house vacuum (piped to enzyme dust collector) for powder spills
- Monitor flows and velocities to confirm dust collector/exhaust system is fully operational
- Monitor product storage/transfer/loading/unloading to confirm safe handling
- Enzyme Waste Management
- Transfer scrap/re-blend in closed carts or sealed bags
- Re-blend in a controlled space with proper exhaust & Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
- Treat all waste as a material that may contain enzymes
- PPE is required when:
- Moving product containing enzymes (full or empty)
- Loading/unloading product with enzymes
- Enter the processing or packaging equipment areas
- Cleaning catch trays or equipment
- Handling rejects/reblend/waste
- Anytime dust is visible (outside of contained space)
- Label all powder containers and equipment as “enzyme” or “non-enzyme” – this will allow you to have visible powder in other parts of your plant where enzymes are never present
Our experienced integration engineers and project managers will help you implement each recommendation. Physical modifications and operator training will be implemented by the same project manager who completed the enzyme handling study.
EPIC will perform a follow up visit after system start-up is complete. This checks the effectiveness of the systems implemented during running operations. An operations review will be performed. Any further areas of concern are identified. If further changes are required, additional recommendations will be provided.
EPIC believes we provide a way for you to “Do It Better” when handling enzymes because of our pragmatic approach to balancing engineered controls with operational changes. Our list of clear recommendations will help you to quickly implement changes in your plant. There are several steps that EPIC performs with every project. We believe the following allows you to “Do It Better” every time:
- Thorough preliminary visual inspection of current operating state
- Front-End Engineering to ensure that the proper steps are taken during project scope development
- Applying our plant engineering experience to assist clients in identifying needs, pinpointing objectives and providing the most appropriate manufacturing equipment
- Maintaining an open door client policy to promote innovation. We invite clients to visit EPIC to experiment with new processes, technologies and techniques that push the limits of traditional engineering.
- Impart a transfer of knowledge (not just a basic training) for the systems and equipment we provide
- Appointing a single point of direct contact during the entirety of the project
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