Best Practice

LOCATION: Asphalt/Coating plant ARTICLE YEAR 2010
ACTIVITY: Production and Processing COMPANY: Aggregate Industries
SUB ACTIVITY: Asphalt & coated stone COMPANY LOCATION: Bardon Asphalt (Midlands)
Bitumen handling and storage - behavioural improvements

Aggregate Industries set a target of zero incidents involving bitumen handling. To help achieve this, a bitumen working group (BWG) involving personnel from the asphalt business, HSEQ, engineering, training and personnel was formed.

The group identified that:

1.There was an inconsistent approach to the calculation of bitumen storage capacity. These inconsistencies
included the calculation of a tank’s theoretical design capacity, safe working capacity, usable capacity (ullage),
and whether the calculation was made using weight or volume

2. The periodic ‘Authority to Discharge’ (ADT) reports from the bitumen suppliers were highlighting unacceptable level of incidents involving alarm activations

3.Bitumen related incidents were leading to employee injuries.

The group also recognised that changing the behaviour of employees involved in asphalt production would be key to achieving the goal of zero incidents.

The following initiatives involving both management and operatives were put in place:

Bitumen Discharge Permit

A Bitumen Discharge Permit (BDP) was formulated and trialled at a number of asphalt plants. The Refined Bitumen Association (RBA) was consulted since it was considered important to have co-operation from both the bitumen suppliers’ delivery drivers and contract transport drivers.

Completion of the BDP ensures that plant operatives overseeing the discharge process are:

Physically establishing and recording current tank content

Recording tank and flange numbers to avoid confusion

Checking tank gauge and alarm functionality

Questioning the need for possible split delivery

Confirming that there is sufficient ullage to discharge safely

Ensuring the emergency shower has been checked that day

Confirming that site management have calculated the Safe Working Capacity in accordance with RBA recommendations.

By running through the permit checklist and entering details or ticking boxes, the site operative is carrying out a risk reduction exercise that will improve the safety of bitumen deliveries and prevent environmental pollution from spillages.

If a site fails to present a valid BDP to the delivery driver, then the driver should refuse to discharge the load and leave the site. This has been communicated to all the bitumen suppliers through the RBA.

BDP was implemented at all Aggregate Industries’ asphalt producing sites within the UK. The initiative is now being considered by the MPA Working Group for adoption as ‘Best Practice’ for the asphalt industry. One of the independent asphalt suppliers has agreed to implement the BDP throughout their organisation.

Bitumen Delivery Signs

New signs have been installed at every bitumen delivery point which:

Define potential hazards

Specify PPE requirements

Identify the location of spill kit and shower

States RBA site status

Provides details of each tank

Includes laminated RA/SSOW and emergency procedural documentation.

Bitumen Self Audit Check sheet
New audit check sheet has been produced and implemented at all asphalt sites

All sites have completed the 2009 audit and these were collated into a summary report

HSEQ department to be requested to audit compliance during site visits.

Emergency Alert Systems

Systems such as the introduction of pull wires to be included in a ‘Best Practice’ document and circulated to all asphalt sites for consideration/implementation.

Bitumen Ground Based Pumping Systems

A standard and guidance has been produced for the procurement and installation of ground mounted transfer pumps.

Package for Future Reference

All information relating to bitumen delivery and handling to be included in a Holcim FPE (Fatality Prevention Element) document/presentation for use by new or replacement managers.


Benefits following the formation of the Bitumen Working Group include:

1.Positive engagement and consultation with asphalt plant management and operatives on the initiatives proposed

2.Managers verifying all the relevant information needed to calculate safe ullage, not ‘guesstimating’

3.Tanker drivers confident that all calculations have been correctly undertaken and that safeguards are in place to avoid incidents

4.Procedures in place to effectively deal with ‘split loads’

5. Plant managers and operatives better informed with easy access to relevant information

6.The ability to monitor information and ADT reports from the bitumen suppliers and respond as appropriate ensuring information disseminated to all sectors

7.The ability to evaluate new applications and equipment using the expert knowledge within the group

8. BWG participants more effective contributors in external working groups.
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