A Microscopic Hazard That Could Cost You Millions

Combustible Dust Explosion

Combustible dust presents a high level of danger to any factory in which particles of various organic, inorganic, or metallic substances accumulate. OSHA defines combustible dust as “fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in air under certain conditions.” Examples of substances that can produce combustible dust are chemicals, fossil fuels (coal in particular), metals, paper, plastics, rubbers, sugars, grains, textiles, wood, and sawdust. The ignition of these hazards can cause an explosion with the capability to harm many employees or blow up entire plants, which has occurred on numerous occasions in the past.

Combustible Dust Explosion

For example, on June 21 of 2019, an explosion that occurred in Cloverdale, Indiana injured two truck drivers who were unloading corn in an ethanol plant’s grain-loading area. The damage was estimated at $1 million, aside from the hospital bills of the two injured that were not employed by POET, the company that owns this plant. Another incident at Didion Milling Ethanol Plant in Cambria, Wisconsin, resulted in 5 deaths and 14 injuries in 2017. Investigators accredit the explosion to the company’s “failure to correct leakages, accumulation of highly combustible grain dust,” and properly maintaining equipment that could act as ignition sources.

Another possible outcome of overlooking combustible dust hazards is being fined by OSHA. OSHA has already fined many companies for failure to sustain a safe working environment structured by the standards put into place to ensure occupational safety. A company in Natchez, Mississippi was fined $303,657 due to the discovery of “various electrical hazards” (which could supply as an ignition source), “accumulations of combustible dust on surfaces,” as well as many other dangerous hazards that could either supply as fuel to kindle deflagration or provoke an explosion. One of the companies mentioned earlier, Didion Mill, also received a fine of $1,837,861 by OSHA due to the infractions mentioned previously. The combined cost of having to compensate injured workers, families of lost loved ones, and fines by OSHA could set a company back not only in millions of dollars but reputation as well. Hence, combustible dust poses a threat to both the safety of the workplace, and a company’s financial wellbeing.

                However, Carolina Filters has a solution to this problem. In addition to our extensive knowledge and expertise, Carolina Filters uses the highest quality collection devices and procedures – all of which follow NFPA and OSHA requirements. With years of experience cleaning combustible dust and other contaminants in all types of environments, we can get any workspace in compliance with OSHA and NFPA regulations regarding combustible dust. We also offer facility audits, to help you identify levels of combustible dust in the air. Removing combustible dusts and other particulates from the air is an important process – and by partnering with the professionals at Carolina Filters, you can ensure the safety of your employees and the facilities themselves. Contact us today for assistance with removing combustible dust in your facility.

Ignition Sources of Dust Explosions

OSHA reports that more than 3,500 combustible dust explosions have occurred over the last 28 years. In 280 major incidents, over 700 injuries and 119 deaths occurred.

Dust explosions occurs when a sufficient amount of dust particles (fuel) disperse in the air (oxygen) and become exposed to a certain temperature (heat) in a confide space. According to OSHA, these five factors (oxygen, heat, fuel, dispersion and confinement) are knows as the “Dust Explosion Pentagon.” All elements must be present for a combustible dust explosion to occur.

Combustible Dust: A microscopic hazard can cost your business millions

Businesses are always looking for ways to save money, especially millions of dollars. Did you know? Dust can cost your company millions of dollars – more specifically, an explosion from combustible dust. It is a hazard that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. A combustible dust explosion typically destroys buildings beyond repair due to the amount of combustible particulates that accumulates on surfaces.

So what is combustible dust?

7 Industrial Elements That Cause Dust Explosions

There were more than 82 dust-related fires or explosions over the last decade, according to OSHA.

Organic, metallic and some nonmetal inorganic materials can cause a combustible dust explosion. Some materials, such as powdered metals or flour, are intentionally created to become powder, while other materials like synthetic fibers and paper, unintentionally generate dust.