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Are You at Risk from Combustible Dusts? Part 1

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Ahern Project

Part 1 of 2: Five Steps to Reducing the Risk

By a Business Development Representative, Ahern Fire Protection-Special Hazards

Did you know a majority of the dust created in industry is combustible? How can this be? For the answer, we need to track back a little into the base elements of the products you are working with.

If in its raw form, the material or materials used to create what you are working with are organic or carbonaceous, there is a high probability the dust created during production is combustible. So, unless tests have proven that the dust is not combustible, it is best to assume it is. This leads us to Step #1 - Get a sample of your dust in for testing.

How then can I determine if I have an explosion risk? Well, for an explosion to happen, we need to add a few elements to the combustible dust. Here are the 5 elements:

  1. Combustible Dust - Something to burn
  2. Oxygen - Something to keep it going
  3. Ignition Source - Something to start it
  4. Dispersion - Something to spread it around in the air
  5. Confinement - Something to build up pressure in

Now you have a better understanding of the basics, it's time to go walk the plant. This is Step #2 - Identify the Hazards. As you examine your processes, look at the areas where fine particles are either the product you are producing; will be made into your product; or are a by-product of production processes. If the dust is subjected to the other 4 items above, you have an explosion risk. Remember, if you allow enough dust to accumulate in your plant, the building itself can become the confinement!

With your list in hand, get the appropriate team members together to discuss what the ramifications of an explosion would be in your facility. This is Step #3 - What would happen if we had an explosion? Would personnel be injured? Would your facility or process be rendered inoperable? Once you work through this discussion, you can move on the Step 4 - Risk Evaluation and Risk Reduction.

Contact Ahern to help identify the risk for combustible dusts in your facility.

Other articles you might be interested in:

Are You at Risk from Combustible Dusts? Part 2

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