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Minimizing Risk for Combustible Dust Explosions

By James Grimshaw, Newson Gale |

By focusing on ignition sources, such as static discharges, and housekeeping, facilities handling solids can minimize their risk for combustible dust explosions Dust explosions in industrial facilities can cause injuries, destruction of property, and — as history will attest — unfortunately, fatalities. A U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB; Washington, D.C.; www.csb.gov) report conducted in 2006 identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers with injuries sustained to 718 others, along with several damaged facilities. In the U.K., the government agency Health and Safety Executive (Merseyside, U.K.; www.hse.gov.uk) recorded 303 dust explosions over a nine-year period, and German records demonstrate 426 similar incidents over a 20-year period. Unfortunately, tragic incidents like these continue to cause significant business interruptions and loss of lives. Given that such hazards exist within industry today, it is critical for plants to focus on areas where they significantly reduce the risk of dust explosions. These include close attention to good housekeeping practices, strict adherence to maintenance practices, and the identification and elimination of ignition…
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