There are many things to consider when it comes to workplace safety. From falls to explosions, there are various hazards to be careful of while on the job. It’s normal for dust to be present to some extent in the workplace, but the risk this dust presents varies depending on the workplace. Combustible dust is essentially an excessive accumulation of dust. Accidents can result from the presence of this dust, so it’s important to be informed about what it is and how to manage it. Combustible dust accidents can lead to death, injury, and damage to the facility. We’ve put together a guide that explains how to prevent a combustible dust accident, so read on to learn more. By recognizing how combustible dust forms and the actions you can take to mitigate it, you can keep your work environment safe for everyone.
What Is Combustible Dust
Before you learn how to prevent a combustible dust accident, it’s important to know what combustible dust is. Combustible dust is what causes an explosion hazard. Failure to realize how dangerous combustible dust is can have a fatal impact, so it’s important to be well-informed on this topic. Combustible dust is a very fine dust that can ignite and explode. The smaller the particle is, the more dangerous it is. It’s important to keep in mind that the size of the particle does matter. A large pile of sawdust doesn’t have the same risk factor as a pile of finer dust does.
What Elements Cause It
There are a few elements that are necessary to ignite a dust explosion. This is often referred to as the “dust explosion pentagon” because it’s composed of five elements. The first three elements are what cause the fire, which is why they’re referred to as “the fire triangle.” The first is combustible dust, which acts as the fuel. The second is the ignition source, which is the heat. The third is oxygen in the air, which is the oxidizer. For an explosion to occur, two additional elements must be present. First, the dust particles must be dispersed in a sufficient quantity. Additionally, the dust cloud must be confined within an enclosed space. If one of the five elements isn’t present, an explosion cannot occur.
If you’re wondering how to prevent a combustible dust accident, there’s not really a clear-cut answer. You can’t always prevent these accidents because combustible dust is a byproduct of manufacturing. You can do various things, though, to limit the risk. One thing you can do is use a proper dust collection system. This is basically a system that collects dust throughout a facility. The system utilizes a dust collector, which is where all the dust ends up. The dust collector system sucks up dust from the ground and air, then filters it through the system and into the collector. This helps eliminate dust in the facility, thus minimizing the chance of an accident.
It’s also a good idea to clean the facility regularly. On top of this, you might also want to have a hazardous dust inspection done. This lets you know if there’s a need for concern. Make sure to keep an eye out for dust residue, as well. It’s essential to check hidden areas, as well as open areas, for dust residue. This is important because a build-up of dust in any area can cause an explosion. It’s likely that dust could build up in hidden areas, so you should ensure these nooks and crannies are clean. Consider having employees do this daily as part of opening or closing the facility. You could also hire a professional service to clean the facility. Having multiple people aware of the risk helps minimize that risk. The best way to prevent an accident is to educate employees on the matter.
There are also various things that staff can do daily. For example, if there’s an ignition source present, use cleaning methods that don’t generate dust. A broom might collect dust, for instance, so it’s not smart to have a broom in the facility. It’s smart to invest in a vacuum for the facility instead. Make sure to use a vacuum that’s specifically approved for dust collection. Try to control mechanical sparks and friction as well as open flames and smoking whenever possible. If an employee smokes on their breaks, make sure they’re far from the facility’s doors or windows. It’s important to keep these things in mind as they could cause a combustible dust accident.
Lastly, make sure employees are properly trained on these hazards. This ensures there are multiple people working to minimize the likelihood of an accident or explosion. It’s essential to refer to OSHA when learning about this topic. They offer a very in-depth explanation of what causes these accidents and how to respond. Consider having employees sign off on a sheet of paper after they’ve read up on this topic.
If there are potential hazards present, it’s important to wear the right clothing. In many industries, there are standards in place to protect employees. You should refer to OSHA for more in-depth information about the specific standards in place for your occupation. One thing that’s universally suggested is protective clothing. For many industries, it’s recommended that employees wear flame-resistant clothing. There are many options to choose from, depending on the protection that’s necessary. Flame-resistant clothing protects the employee from harm in the event of a fire.
There are many options when choosing fire-resistant clothing. If your occupation puts you in harm’s way, it’s important to invest in flame-resistant clothing—it could literally save your life. There are flame-resistant shirts and pants, which can protect you while on the job. Flame-resistant outwear is a great option for anyone who works outside. For individuals that work with hazardous materials daily, there are bibs and coveralls available for added protection. Make sure all the clothing you’re wearing is flame-resistant because even wearing one item that isn’t flame-resistant could cause you harm. This is non-negotiable when it comes to safety, so invest in some flame-resistant clothing to keep yourself safe.
At FR Outlet, we offer high-quality fire-resistant garments. Our products are NFPA 70E & 2112 compliant and HRC 2 arc-rated. We care about your safety, so feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.