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Preventing Dust Explosions

By Geof Brazier and Mitch Rooker, BS&B Safety Systems, LLC |

Household items, such as breakfast cereal, flour, corn starch and sugar are so common that many were left surprised after the 2008 combustible-dust explosion at a sugar refinery in Georgia. Heard in much of the early media coverage was the question “How could sugar explode?” Plant explosions are, thankfully, not routine occurrences. However, when they do occur, it is the unusual event — often a combination of abnormal events — that is typically the trigger. This article outlines some of the guidelines that are available to help prevent dust explosions. It also offers a list of factors to consider when choosing explosion vent technology to minimize combustible-dust-explosion hazards. The facts are that in the U.S. and elsewhere, the chemical process industries (CPI) are working to minimize the risk of combustible dust explosions by following a revised suite of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, that are recognized by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A documented combustible-dust, risk-management program that is regularly updated, forms the cornerstone of a plant’s owner/operator responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Identification of areas of risk,…
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