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5 Warning Signs a Dust Explosion Could Happen in Your Facility

Dust Explosion EquipmentWhat causes a dust explosion?

Dust explosions are dangerous and potentially fatal chemical reactions which can occur when a buildup of dust accumulates in an enclosed area. Dust explosions can occur in any facility under the right conditions with any amount of dust present. This is why it’s essential for facilities to maintain strict cleanliness to prevent dust accumulation which can lead to a dust explosion.


How common are dust explosions?

Dust explosions are not uncommon by any means. Dust explosions can occur in any facility under the right conditions, including:

  • Grain Mills
  • Flour Mills
  • Other Food Production Facilities
  • Woodworking Facilities
  • Metal Processing Facilities
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Centers
  • Recycling Facilities
  • Power Plants
  • Coal-Generated Facilities

Various types of dust explosions occur all over the world. In the last few months alone, several dust explosions have occurred at facilities in the United States.


5 Signs a Dust Explosion Could Occur

Dust explosions can occur in any facility under the right circumstances. If you aren’t taking the proper precautions, a potentially fatal dust explosion could occur in your facility as well. What factors can contribute to a dust explosion?

READ MORE: Why is Collecting Wood Dust Important?


1. Your Facility Has Flammable Material

Flammable material is the leading cause of dust explosions. Because absolutely every type of dust is flammable, just about every type of facility that produces a dust byproduct is at risk for a dust explosion. The most common types of dust which lead to dust explosions are:

  • Grain Dust
  • Wood Dust
  • Metal Dust
  • Coal Dust
  • Sulphur Dust
  • Plastic Dust
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Powdered Milk
  • Cornstarch
  • Rice


2. An Ignition Source + Oxygen is Present

Once you have an ignition source such as heat or a flame, oxygen, and a flammable material, you have everything needed to create a fire which can lead to a dust explosion. While fires in and of themselves are a cause for serious concern, what makes a dust explosion so incredibly dangerous is that an explosion of flammable materials can lead to larger fires that spread rapidly without warning. While an individual may have time to escape a burning room or building that is on fire, a dust explosion can be fatal for anyone in the vicinity due to its power and its rapidly combustible nature.


3. Your Facility is Not Properly Ventilated

Enclosed spaces that are not properly ventilated offer an opportunity for combustible materials to build pressure and create an environment that can produce dust explosions which spread quickly.

READ MORE: Why is Industrial Ventilation Necessary?

Proper ventilation is absolutely essential for ensuring your facility is not creating an environment conducive to dust explosions. Fans, centrifugal blowers, and vents and louvres can all help ventilate small or large spaces to increase airflow and reduce the risk of dust explosions.  



4. You Don’t Have a Dust Collection System

Not having a dust collection system creates an environment in which a dust explosion is not only likely but inevitable. Even with strict housekeeping standards, facilities which produce any type of combustible dust material are at risk for dust explosions, meaning even daily cleanings won’t prevent the constant accumulation of dust from catching fire.

READ MORE: 7 Things to Consider When Designing a Dust Collection System

A dust collection system allows you to maintain a clean facility and meet OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines and regulations regarding worker safety. In addition to being a combustible material, various types of dust can also cause serious health concerns if not properly diverted to a dust collection system.



5 Your Equipment is Outdated

If your facility's equipment is outdated, you’re creating the potential for dust explosions. Newer industrial equipment is intended to produce less dust and to properly direct dust to a collection system. If your equipment is overused and outdated, you run the risk of having faulty machinery, dangerous equipment malfunctions, and potentially fatal electrical fires and dust explosions.

READ MORE: 3 Ways Businesses Can Save Money on Energy Costs

Like other equipment, dust collection systems must also be up-to-date and working efficiently to prevent dust explosions. If your dust collection system is more than 10 years old, or if your bag filters, cartridge collectors, and other units aren’t updated, it’s time to invest and reduce the risk of a potentially fatal and costly dust explosion. After all, it’s far more efficient and responsible to invest in new equipment and technology that saves lives and prevents dust explosions than to suffer lost wages, lost production, and lost lives as a result of failing to do so.




Posted by Larry Bennett at 9:39 AM

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