Many people are completely unaware that a combustible explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries, and destruction of entire buildings. For example, 3 workers were killed in a 2010 titanium dust explosion in West Virginia, and 14 workers were killed in a 2008 sugar dust explosion in Georgia.
Here are 4 important things you need to know to protect your employees, and business investments from a combustible dust explosion in 2019.
- A Wide Range of Materials Can Cause An Explosion
Just about any material, even the ones that you thing won’t, such as metal, can cause a combustible dust fire. According to OSHA, any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. Even materials that do not burn in larger pieces (such as aluminum or iron), given the proper conditions, can be explosive in dust form.
A wide variety of materials that can be explosible in dust form exist in many industries. Examples of these materials include: food (e.g., candy, sugar, spice, starch, flour, feed), grain, tobacco, plastics, wood, paper, pulp, rubber, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dyes, coal, metals (e.g., aluminum, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc). These materials are used in a wide range of industries and processes, such as agriculture, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical production, furniture, textiles, fossil fuel power generation, recycling operations, and metal working and processing which includes additive manufacturing and 3D printing.
- Read and Understand NFPA Fire Prevention Standards
While NFPA fire prevention standards are not OSHA regulations, they can provide guidance for worker protection. In some cases your state, local government, or employer may mandate them.
- 61, Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities
- 484, Standard for Combustible Metals
- 654, Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
- 655, Standard for Prevention of Sulfur Fires and Explosions
- 664, Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities
You can find a list of NFPA code standards on the web here https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards
- Understand How Dust Explosions Happen
It’s important to understand that while many materials are combustible the primary cause of dust fires is poor housekeeping policies, and improper handling of combustible materials.
If you’ve determined that you need to have your facility serviced to remove dust hazards or if you’re unsure please give us a call. Our trained technicians will be happy to speak with you and offer guidance.
- Know If Your Industry Is At Risk
You may think that your industry is not at risk, however, combustible dust explosion hazards exist in a surprisingly large number of industries including but not limited to:
- Food (e.g., candy, sugar, spice, starch, flour, feed)
- Grain elevators, bins and silos
- Woodworking facilities
- Tire and rubber manufacturing
- Metal powder processing or storage (especially magnesium and aluminum)
Please give us a call with any questions you may have about possible combustible dust explosion hazards.