Last year in December when a combustible dust explosion at Perfetti Van Melle, the candy manufacturer of AirHeads, shook the sugar silos it was a sober reminder to manufacturers everywhere that they must remain diligent about mitigating the dangers of combustible dust fires.
The fire at Perfetti was not the first of its type. Back in 2008 a fire caused by sugar clouds broke out at the Imperial Sugar refinery claiming the lives of 14 people and injuring 36.
Below are 5 things that can be done to avoid deadly, and costly combustible dust explosions in sugar silos or at any manufacturing environment.
5 things OSHA recommends to help prevent a combustible dust explosion
- Install dust collection systems designed to remove dust from work areas. Insure they are designed in a manner that does not allow leaking.
- Consider purchasing properly designed industrial downdraft tables. These are a great solution for source capture, can minimize the escape of fugitive dust, and increase the safety of the facility.
- Make sure you have a regular housekeeping schedule with cleaning frequencies established for floors and horizontal surfaces, such as ducts, pipes, hoods, ledges, and beams to minimize dust accumulations within operating areas of the facility.
- Talk with and train operators. Talking with employees to insure they understand the importance of preventing a combustible dust explosion is an important element of an overall prevention strategy. Train them to safely handle equipment, and perform daily cleaning activities.
- Monitor. OSHA strongly suggests that employers provide access to any and all hidden areas for the purposes of both OSHA inspections, and self-inspections. You should implement a self-inspection schedule to insure regular inspection intervals.