The average person has absolutely no idea that the dust from a number of everyday materials can become explosive under the right conditions: grains, sugar, metals, plastics, coal, coffee creamer, corn – just to name a few. Checkout our combustible dust post called 101 Things That Explode.
Due to the high potential for explosion, dust hazards exist in many different industries:
- Food processing
- Automotive (Read why OSHA cited an automotive parts manufacturer)
Dust clouds resulting from the manufacturing and processing of these everyday materials have sparked some of the worst industrial accidents in history.
Ok, dust does not explode on its own. It must be energized to ignite. Usually electrical equipment or a flame is the incentive for dust suspended in the air to catch fire and explode, setting off a chain reaction throughout the entire plant. According to federal investigators combustible dust explosions have been the cause of more than 281 fires over the past 25 years, resulting not only in the destruction of property, but in the loss of profits, jobs and – worst of all – hundreds of injuries and deaths.
However, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), every one of those injuries and deaths could have easily been prevented with effective housekeeping, workforce training, and preplanning.
The biggest problem with dust explosions is the dust itself. The easiest way to prevent a combustible dust explosion is to professionally clean and remove the dust. Professional companies should use Explosion Proof HEPA-filtered vacuums with attached brushes to provide surface cleaning of loose particulate debris. Wet wiping, or wiping with a chemically treated cloth, are also methods utilized to control the dust and debris from cross contaminating into other areas.
Dust often makes it’s way to high surfaces, such as rafters. When considering hiring professional combustible dust removal companies make sure they utilize high reach and high lift mechanized equipment, along with ladders and scaffolding to safely access high surface areas. You can learn more about our combustible dust removal process here.