Combustible dust explosions are deadly and devastating to workers, businesses and communities who experience this sudden damage to property, and in several cases, loss of life. Workers in manufacturing plants around the country and even the world go to work at plants and factories every day, not realizing that the materials they handle can create dust that explodes and can hurt them, even organic material like flour and sugar. These unsuspecting substances create dust particles that can ignite and cause serious harm. Don’t let this happen to your business.
Educate Yourself and Your Employees
According to an alarming 2014 New York Times article, the chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board reported that from 2008 to 2012, there were 50 combustible dust accidents that contributed to 29 fatalities and 161 injuries. This gripping reality shows that companies need to be informed about all aspects of “danger dust” and how to keep these tragedies from happening in the first place. A wide variety of work environments that generate dust are susceptible for these types of accidents, including tire manufacturing, plastics and fertilizers.
To keep your employees and property safe from potential harm, make sure your manufacturing plant is “in the know” about industry best practices and requirements for handling combustible dust, such as the NFPA 652 Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust. This regulatory document will help your company take proactive measures to keep combustible dust explosions from taking place.
Don’t Fan the Flame
One preventative measure you can institute right away is to get rid of things in your workplace that are known to ignite combustible dust in the first place. There are certain risk factors that can increase the probability of a combustible dust explosion. You can help to escape deadly dust dangers by keeping dusty residue materials away from heat, flame and friction or any type of inflammatory source.
The way combustible materials generate dust in your facility can be a risk factor as well. Dust-generating activities, like sieving and blasting can increase the possibility of dust buildup in your manufacturing plant. It has to go somewhere, and hopefully it’s not an excessive amount that spells danger for you and your staff.
In addition, avoid creating a recipe for disaster by not putting all of the ingredients of dust danger together in one formula: combustible dust, heat, air, concentrated dust area and the right dust particle distribution can provide a dangerous mixture of flammable dust.
Make Dust Inspections the Norm
Although it’s not a cure all preventative measure, regular dust inspections can go a long way to keep your employees and facility safe from dust disasters. Surprisingly, it takes less than 1/32 of an inch of dust to cause dust combustion in your plant. Use best practice safeguards to keep a close eye on these dust levels to ensure they don’t lead to a fire hazard.
Through education about dust danger safeguards, avoiding inflammatory dust particle conditions and regular monitoring, you’ll be on your way to avoid combustible dust explosions at your facility.