What Are The Risks Of Manufacturing And Combustible Dust?
If you are a Canadian manufacturer, you face many risks of manufacturing on a daily basis. Everything from distribution disruptions to natural disasters to labour concerns could fundamentally impact your business operations with little or no advance notice. As much as large-scale external factors may keep you awake at night, small-scale risks can pose an equally compelling threat. If you are wondering what are the risks of manufacturing and combustible dust this article provides some valuable and timely insights.
One of the biggest threats you face may be the hardest to see. A recent Manufacturing and Combustible Dust paper published by Zywave notes that “combustible dust is one of the most dangerous risks manufacturers face.”1 It goes further and explains that, “combustible dust is typically defined as any fine material that has the ability to catch fire and explode when an ignition source is present. While the type of combustible dust may differ depending on the type of manufacturing work being performed, common examples include dust created by wood, metals, chemicals, pesticides, rubber, textiles and plastics.
Related Matters: Canadian Manufacturing: Risk & Compliance
Blasts caused by combustible dust can be especially dangerous due to the fact that, after ignition, there are often two explosions that occur—primary and secondary. Primary explosions occur when accumulated dust ignites, which, in turn, creates a large dust cloud. Secondary explosions, which can be even more devastating, are when the dust cloud ignites.”2
The Risks Of Manufacturing And Combustible Dust
Accordingly, “the following conditions need to be present in order for a blast to occur:
- Combustible dust
- A concentrated dispersion of the dust in the air
- Enough oxygen to cause and sustain a fire
- An ignition source
- A form of confinement or enclosure that allows pressure to build”3
How You Can Sweep Up The Risks Of Manufacturing And Combustible Dust
Put simply, good housekeeping can help you manage the risks of manufacturing and combustible dust. “Employees should be trained to look for combustible dust hazards and have access to the cleaning equipment necessary to address them.
Using a vacuum, wet rag or broom can help prevent combustible dust from accumulating. Be especially mindful of combustible dust accumulation hot spots, like flat surfaces, pipes, ductwork or cable trays.
In many combustible dust incidents, workers and managers were either unaware of the hazard or failed to recognize the deadly potential of dust explosions.
Understanding the triggers of combustible dust explosions is essential to protecting your company from loss. By understanding the triggers, you can effectively evaluate the potential hazards related to dust accumulation in your organization and communicate these hazards to your workforce to prevent loss and ensure your employees’ safety.”4
Manufacturing And Combustible Dust – Did You Know? “One way to protect against combustible dust explosions is to equip your facility with suppression systems that will contain explosions and minimize their danger and damage. A comprehensive system might include pressure-relief venting for equipment, spark and ember detection and extinguishing systems, explosion protection systems and sprinkler systems.”5
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Sources: 1-5 Adapted from Manufacturing CI – Q4.2017 © 2017 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. Not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.