The Utility of the ISO 45001:2018 Framework to Generate Risk Profiles and Mitigation Strategies for the Worker/Asrine Gas Exposure Risk

Additonal authors: Koehler, T. L.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Mitsui, A.

The presence of arsenic, even at trace levels, in copper processing leads to the risk of arsine gas where reducing conditions exist that can reduce any soluble arsenic present to its minus 3 valance state and generate hydrogen gas from the solutions. This risk is understood to be significant within the industry, particularly in the case of liberator cells where copper concentrations in solution are drawn down to remove the copper and impurities from the bleed stream. However, there are numerous other potential areas where the arsine gas risk exists including contact between active metal such as iron, zinc or aluminum and arsenic bearing solutions in pyrometallurgical dust treatment, refining and acid plant operations. In turn this breaks down to different mitigating strategies dependent on the risk scenarios considered; for example, how this risk interacts with Change Management, Confined Space Entry or Contractor Training. The ISO 45001 is an emerging standard meant to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create safer working conditions all over the world. The paper shows a case study of how a framework consistent with the tenets of ISO 45001 has been used to provide a consistent assessment of this risk for a wide variety of copper operations and the expectations of how this may be used to effectively improve the effectiveness of barriers against future incidents. INTRODUCTION Arsine gas (AsH3), first identified in 1775, is a highly poisonous, colorless, non-irritating gas with a mild garlic odor that is heavier than air. Arsine gas is generated when reducing conditions are generated in the presence of hydrogen ions and arsenic compounds. Present permissible occupational exposure limit as defined by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as an 8-hour time-weighted average is ppm (0.2 mg/m3). Further increasing the risk, conventional respiratory protection utilizing half or full masks with gas filtering cartridges provide minimal protection against arsine. In copper processing plants, the risk of arsine generation is well understood in liberator cells, which are part of the electrolysis process. In this process, solutions containing copper are reduced in copper concentration removing not only the copper, but also arsenic, antimony and bismuth. The residual solution can be bled to control impurity build-up in the refinery. In this process, if the copper concentration is reduced to the point where As3- can form, arsine gas is generated via reaction with hydrogen ions generated during the plating process. The copper concentration at which arsine gas is generated depends on copper concentration at the cathode surface, the temperature and the acidity. As a result, there is always a risk of arsine gas generation in the liberator cell. Process measures to minimize or mitigate arsine evolution are tight control on final copper concentration, warm temperatures, fresh feed distribution and internal acid recirculation rates. Operator exposure protection measures are hooding, ventilation, arsine detection systems, restricted personnel access, automated shutdown controls and pre-defined evacuation plans.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019