Environmental & Safety Blog
February 13, 2014
It's just dust. How could it be dangerous, let alone explosive?
Any combustible material can burn rapidly and explode in a finely divided form. Facilities that intentionally manufacture powders as well as those that incidentally generate them through handling and processing solid materials are potentially subject to combustible dust hazards.
Common types of combustible dusts include various metals, wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar, and paper. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but is a starting point for determining what sorts of dusts may present danger. For a partial list of identified combustible dusts, please refer to OSHA's Combustible Dust Information Poster.
It is critical for safety managers responsible for facilities where combustible dust hazards exist to take a close look to determine if all of the necessary components of a dust management and control program are in place.
Although this can be a challenging task, if you follow some proven steps, you can develop an effective program that will protect employees, company assets, and keep your organization out of the headlines!
There are many ways to keep dust under control. Some of these methods include:
- Control ignition sources
- Practice good housekeeping (Click here for a FREE toolbox talk on housekeeping)
- Collect and segregate dust at the point of generation
- Conducting regularly scheduled inspections
- Using proper dust collection systems and filters
- Keeping dust from escaping from equipment or ventilation systems
- Using surfaces that are easy to clean
There have been a number of high visibility explosions and as a result both federal and state OSHA agencies have focused more resources on industries where combustible dust is a health, safety, and explosion concern.