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Industrial processes often produce combustible dust, either as waste or commercial product. Dust explosion hazards are prevalent throughout industry and often threaten worker safety and business continuity. With increased awareness of combustible dust hazards, more facilities are now dealing with this issue and looking to answer some important questions.
YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT DUST…
WE HAVE ANSWERS.
By comprehensively reviewing your dust hazards, we can address all these questions and assure your facility operates in accordance with best industry practice.
WHY ARE COMBUSTIBLE DUSTS HAZARDOUS?
Dust explosions can occur when combustible dusts become suspended in air and come into contact with an effective ignition source. Upon ignition, flame propagates through the suspended dust mixture, causing pressure to increase. In enclosed buildings or process equipment, the increase in pressure can cause buildings or process equipment to rupture, which can result in injuries to personnel and damage to buildings and equipment. An initial dust explosion may also disrupt combustible dust that has accumulated in a building or equipment, causing a severe secondary explosion. It is important to identify facilities and processes where combustible dust hazards exist so proper dust hazard management and explosion mitigation strategies can be developed.
The first step is testing your dust. Our consultants work with your facility to formulate and implement a dust sampling and testing strategy, which produces the data required to evaluate and manage dust hazards. Our state-of-the-art combustible dust testing lab will quickly screen and characterize dust samples taken from throughout your facility to determine which areas require in-depth analysis. Samples are first screened for combustibility (“go/no-go”), and if a sample is combustible, subsequent testing will determine characteristics such as minimum explosible concentration, minimum ignition energy, and explosion severity. These properties assist in defining the hazard level and inform the required protection at your facility.
IS MY PROCESS VULNERABLE?
Combustible dust hazards are encountered in a wide range of industries, including processing and handling of food, tobacco, agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, metal, wood, paper, plastic and rubber.
As part of a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA), each part of the process is evaluated for conditions which could result in a fire or explosion. Existing protection methods are evaluated against industry best practice (i.e. NFPA 652), enforceable fire codes and OSHA programs. Where gaps are identified, cost-effective solutions are recommended.
JENSEN HUGHES has extensive experience in analyzing dust hazards for facilities dealing with the challenges of combustible dusts. These challenges include the prevention of dust explosions, efficient operation of dust collection systems, and development of electrical classification diagrams. Existing protection methods can also be validated by deflagration vent sizing and equipment strength evaluations.
Effective facility and process design go a long way toward protecting personnel from combustible dust hazards. However, the last line of defense for your process operators is often personal protective equipment (PPE). A Job Hazard Analysis conducted in accordance with NFPA 2113, Selection, Care, Use and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel determines an appropriate level of protection for workers who could be exposed to flash fires.
You can substantially reduce the likelihood and severity of a combustible dust incident at your facility. By conducting a Dust Explosion Hazard Assessment in accordance with best industry practice and enforceable standards, your facility can address and mitigate major factors involved in a dust explosion event, including:
- Identify building areas and process sections with combustible dusts
- Recognize and mitigate credible ignition sources
- Implement proper housekeeping techniques
- Improve process design features for inherently safer operation
- Validate explosion isolation, prevention and protection methods
- Employ proper personal protective equipment
Finally, informing front-line employees of the hazards they could encounter, and the measures provided for their protection, promotes a culture of safety and compliance. Our online learning platform, JENSEN HUGHES Academy, supplemented by on-site training, provides a method of demonstrating the employer’s commitment to safety while ensuring workers are informed about the potential hazards of their workplace and how to avoid combustible dust incidents.