Learn how to limit or prevent your dust from causing a serious explosion.
Are your dust characteristics explosive? If you are dealing with combustible dust, how do prevent a serious explosion from happening? Having the answers to these questions, and implementing a preventative maintenance plan, will help you avoid a serious dust collector emergency.
What is combustible dust?
Combustible dust can be defined as any fine material that has the ability to catch fire and explode when it’s mixed with the proper concentration of air.
When can combustible dust create an explosion?
When the right conditions are in place, combustible dust can become hazardous and create an explosion. Dust can collect on multiple surfaces in a facility (e.g. ducts, crevices, dust collectors, equipment, etc.), and once this build up of dust mixes with the right conditions, it only takes a small ignition source to create a significant explosion. There are even scenarios in which combustible dust can self-ignite. This usually results from static that builds up as the particulates rub against one another.
Who does it affect?
Combustible dust effects a wide variety of industries such agriculture, metalworking, mining, chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, etc. Industries that are susceptible to combustible dust are regulated by OSHA standards and NFPA guidelines.
How can I prevent a dust collector fire?
Now that you know what conditions required for combustible dust, when it can happen, and who it effects, how do you limit or prevent a serious explosion from happening? Your best plan of action is going to include steps that are proactive instead of reactive. Here are the proactive steps you can take:
- OSHA Standards: Ensure you are meeting OSHA’s set of standards regarding combustible dust. Industries that are susceptible to combustible dust are regulated by OSHA standards When you implement OSHA’s set of standards, you are creating a safe working environment, avoiding property and economic loss from an explosion, avoiding regulatory fines.
- NFPA Guidelines: Make sure you are meeting codes outlined by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency). The NFPA publishes a list of guidelines that will help you minimize injury or death from combustible dust. The following codes are related to the most combustible types of dust (e.g. sugar, wood, fine aluminum):
- 664, Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities
- 484, Standard for Combustible Metals
- 61, Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities
- Preventative Maintenance Plan: Properly maintain your facility and dust collector to help prevent a build up of dust. Clean up any excess dust build up on your dust collector, other equipment, vents, and filters.
- Explosion Vents: Installing an explosion vent on your dust collector is one strategy in minimizing the damage to your equipment or employees who are nearby. The purpose of an explosion vent is to provide an alternative route for flames and expanding gases. It relieves internal pressure, and ruptures the moment pressure has been exceeded in your dust collector.
- Explosion Latches: Latches operate under the same concept as explosion vents. Latches provide venting in the event of an internal explosion.