Safety Tip of the Week – Dangers of Combustible Dust

Combustible dust is any “finely divided solid material that is 420 microns or smaller in diameter and presents a fire or explosions hazard when dispersed and ignited in air.” Materials such as sugar, flour, animal feed, plastics, paper, wood, rubber, furniture, textiles, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, paints and resins, dyes, coal, and metals, can all create combustible dust.

Safeguards need to be activated to control the chances of a dust explosion. These safeguards are prevention, housekeeping dust control, eliminating fugitive dust (dust leaking from other sources), keeping the environment clean, and eliminating as many hazards as possible.

Recognizing Dust Hazards:

  • Conduct general facility-wide appraisals of dust explosion possibilities on a periodic basis.
  • Conduct internal and external audits in order to identify potential explosion hazards.
  • Encourage a preventative attitude among employees for eliminating dust explosions.
  • Have employees and supervisors identify explosion hazards through Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs).

Dust Control Methods:

  • Vacuuming areas where dust accumulation is constant due to the job task being performed;
  • Wash down procedures where hoses and water can be used to remove accumulated dust; and
  • Dust control systems such as filters or cyclones.
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