The risk of combustible dust in any industrial setting could not be overstated. Situations that may seem safe and harmless to the untrained or inexperienced eye could rapidly escalate into a devastating accident with untold property damage and harm to personnel.
An NFPA fact sheet that discusses Industrial and Manufacturing Property Structure Fires within the United States has found that approximately 10,500 structure fires happen in industrial properties in 2003-2009 alone. Knowing the ways to prevent combustible dust explosions can save lives.
- Remember the three elements for a fire.
Avoiding fire at all costs is the most critical reminder of all. Knowing the three ingredients that start a fire can effectively prevent it. A fire needs fuel, heat (ignition source), and oxygen. Two out of the three are already in a combustible dust area: the fuel (dust) and oxygen. In a place where there is plenty of dust or has an activity that creates plenty of dust, there must be no means of ignition, and temperatures must not go too high.
- A dust collector is a must.
Prevent the “fuel” part of the equation from collecting by making use of a dust collector. With suitable vacuum systems or dust collectors, the potentially combustible dust is filtered out of the air and prevents buildup. This highly reduces the risk of combustion.
- Install spark detection and suppression systems.
A single spark could cause a tremendous fire with combustible dust in the air. Spark detection and suppression systems prevent this risk. Even a spark caused by static electricity from clothes or hair could be dangerous.
- Use specialized cleaning methods.
Suppose an ignition source is present within the work area where combustible dust is present. In that case, it’s essential to use specialized cleaning methods and systems that prevent dust from getting disturbed and therefore form clouds into the air.
- Regular inspections are necessary.
It’s not just inspecting for dust gathering at corners or nooks that may go overlooked. It’s also critical to inspect spark detection systems, suppression systems, dust collectors, and all the safety protocols that all personnel should follow. Regular checks and inspections ensure that the vital systems are in good working order and everyone is adhering to protective regulations.
Never underestimate the risks of combustible dust. It’s vital to keep in mind that it only takes one spark in a cloud of dust to create a fire or an explosion. Thus, it’s critical to be vigilant of these reminders and keep everyone in the workplace safe.
Learn more about various protective systems that can keep your industrial property safe from combustible dust accidents by visiting KC Supply.