Dust explosions in processes handling combustible materials are directly responsible for many serious industry accidents resulting in multiple fatalities and severe injuries every year, as well as millions of pounds worth of damage to assets and business interruption. Recent dust explosion accidents include West Pharmaceuticals in North Carolina and CTA Acoustics in Kentucky, USA where in both cases, multiple workers lost their lives.
Dust-sized particles occur in a myriad of manufacturing processes, including but not limited to the production, storage, handling and transportation of combustible materials such as cement, wood, paper, plastics, pharmaceuticals, metals, coal, corn, brewing and other foodstuffs like sugars and flour etc. Therefore plant directly at risk includes silos, hoppers, bins, elevators, conveyors, mixers, grinders, mills, driers, ovens, filters, cyclones and dust collectors.
Under the right conditions, these dusts can form lethal explosions and fires.
Fortunately, there are two approaches to deal with potential dust explosion hazards: prevention and protection. At HazRes, we understand the importance of both explosion prevention and protection measures with respect to your organisation, and firmly believe that prevention in all situations is better than cure.
There are three essential & simple criteria that are necessary for a dust explosion to occur. These are a dust cloud of combustible material, an oxidant present and a source of ignition. Consequently, eliminate or prevent any of these elements and the risk of a dust explosion is removed, which in majority of cases is easier said than done!
In these cases it is imperative to conduct a Hazardous Area Classification (HAC) and Ignition Risk Assessment (IRA) Study in order to determine the extent of the flammable zones / volume and the potential of the equipment to act as ignition sources.
HazRes has vast amount of experience conducting these types of studies not only for flammable dusts, but for flammable gases and vapours. In majority of cases, clients usually have a mixture of all three.
Prevention methodologies may include reducing the dust cloud concentration below its lower flammable limit and purging with inert gas to reduce or eliminating the oxident present. HazRes has much experience in conducting this type of analysis and works with world renowned test labs to determine the explosion properties of clients dust products.
Protection against dust explosions includes containment, isolation, suppression and pressure relief venting such as vent panels and bursting disks. HazRes has experience and expertise in evaluating not only gas and vapour cloud explosion loads, including those generated from vented explosions, but the design and analysis of the structural integrity of the enclosures within which the explosions occur.
HazRes supplies dust related industry clients with safety services in order to help and assist them in preventing dust explosions from occurring and if they do occur helping them protect against their devastating effects. HazRes provides to its client’s independent professional advice on explosion prevention techniques and impartial guidance on the choice, operation and design of different explosion protection systems.
Please remember that the COMAH (Control of Major Accidental Hazards) Regulations do not apply to any material if the only risk created is that of a dust explosion.
If you believe you have a potential dust explosion risk and you would like to discuss your situation in confidence, please call one of the HazRes’ consultants on +44 (0) 845 838 2026