The Hidden Dangers of Combustible Dust
A combustible dust is made up of any fine material that has the capability of catching fire and exploding when mixed with the oxygen in the air. Some materials that may be a combustible dust hazard include the following:
- Agricultural Products
- Chemical Dusts
Any workplace that manufactures or handles any of these products should be evaluated to see if they are at risk for combustible dust explosion. Dust from these products can gather on any surfaces, and when disturbed there is potential for an explosion. Even a small amount of dust built up can be a hazard.
In order for dust to be ignited, a few conditions need to be present. The dust in question must be combustible in nature, and light enough to be suspended in air. An ignition source must be in contact with the dust that is suspended in the air, and the atmosphere must contain enough oxygen to sustain a combustion.
To help avoid the risk of a dust explosion, the following measures should be looked into:
- Dusts should be collected and removed properly from workspaces.
- Proper ventilation equipment should be used.
- All equipment should be kept in good repair.
- Open flames, sparks, and heat sources should be removed from an area that contains dust.
- Consider having a dust inspection program, and inspect regularly.
Combustible dust can cause a large explosion. Because of this, it is very important to educate employees and management teams to properly inspect for dust and keep all risks at bay. Many materials are at risk of explosion, so be sure that you are familiar with the materials that you are working with at all times.