Combustible dust is a significant hazard in many industries and can pose risks to both employees and property. According to OSHA, there have been over 130 combustible dust incidents resulting in 60 fatalities and 129 injuries between 1980 and 2005. Understanding the sources and characteristics of combustible dust, as well as preventive measures, can help minimize the risk of accidents and ensure a safe work environment.
Combustible dust cleaning is a critical process to ensuring the ongoing safety and operation of factory roof systems. It is the process of removing combustible dust particles (such as metal particles and coal dust) from internal and external factory roof structures.
Without regular combustible dust cleaning, factory roof systems are prone to build up of dust and other debris that can create serious safety hazards, such as fire and structural integrity issues. In this article, we will discuss why combustible dust cleaning of factory roofs is important, the hazards posed from combustible dust cleaning and the safety procedures to implement when cleaning factory roofs.
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What is a combustible dust?
Combustible dust is defined as any finely divided solid material that is 420 microns or smaller in diameter and presents a fire or explosion hazard when dispersed and ignited in air. Combustible dust can be created from a variety of materials, including wood, plastics, metals, chemicals, and food products. The dust can accumulate on surfaces or within equipment, and a spark or other ignition source can cause the dust to ignite, potentially leading to a fire or explosion.This is the reason combustible dust cleaning is of extreme importance.
What is ATEX?
ATEX is a French acronym that comes from the description of the hazardous materials — “Appareils destinés à être utilisés en ATmosphères EXplosives.” The translation into English reads, “Devices intended for use in explosive atmospheres.”
ATEX is a European directive on minimum requirements for improving the health and safety protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres.ATEX designates hazardous materials such as explosives. It imposes requirements for companies that handle,process and transport those dangerous materials, and it requires those companies to protect their employees from the risk of explosion. It is important to ensure that ATEX certified equipment is used for combustible dust cleaning of factories.
What Industries at Risk of Combustible Dust Accidents?
Many industries are at risk of combustible dust accidents, including food processing, woodworking, metalworking, chemical manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals. Any industry that produces dust as a byproduct of its processes is at risk. The risk is particularly high in industries that use processes such as grinding, sanding, cutting, or polishing that create fine dust particles.
Hazards of Combustible Dust
The hazards of combustible dust can be significant, including the risk of fire or explosion. In addition to the potential for injury or loss of life, a combustible dust incident can also result in significant property damage and business interruption. Secondary explosions can occur if the initial explosion disturbs accumulated dust, leading to a chain reaction that can be more severe than the initial explosion. It is important to make sure that you do not create a dust cloud when performing combustible dust cleaning.
Risk Assessment for Combustible Dusts
Combustible dust is a significant hazard in many industries, and a risk assessment is an essential step in preventing accidents. A risk assessment should identify the potential sources of combustible dust, as well as any potential ignition sources that could lead to a fire or explosion. The assessment should also evaluate the potential severity of a combustible dust incident and identify ways to minimize the risk.
Identifying Potential Sources
The first step in a risk assessment is to identify potential sources of combustible dust. This includes an assessment of the materials and processes used in the workplace, as well as any areas where dust may accumulate. The assessment should also consider factors such as temperature, humidity, and ventilation that could contribute to the risk of combustible dust incidents.
Once potential sources of combustible dust have been identified, the assessment should evaluate potential ignition sources. This includes an assessment of electrical equipment, such as motors, switches, and wiring, as well as static electricity, sparks, and open flames. The assessment should also consider the risk of hot surfaces, such as furnaces or ovens, coming into contact with combustible dust.
Severity of Incidents
The risk assessment should evaluate the potential severity of a combustible dust incident, including the risk of injury or property damage. This includes an assessment of the potential blast pressure and fire hazards associated with combustible dust, as well as the risk of secondary explosions.
Based on the results of the risk assessment, companies should take steps to minimize the risk of combustible dust incidents. This includes implementing preventive measures such as hazard assessments, housekeeping practices, explosion protection, and employee training. It may also involve modifications to equipment or work processes to minimize the risk of combustible dust incidents.
Why is Combustible Dust Cleaning of Factory Roofs Important?
Combustible dust buildup can be a serious issue for factory roof structures. It can cause increased fire risk due to potential ignition from flammable dust particles, exhausts and sparks generated from nearby machinery. It can also weaken the structural integrity of the roofs and cause them to collapse or become unstable, leading to injury or destruction of the building. Regular combustible dust cleaning is essential to prevent any of these issues and reduce the risk of an accident or destruction of the factory.
Hazards Posed to Factory Roof Structures from Combustible Dust
Combustible dust buildup can create a number of hazardous situations. The buildup of combustible dust can create the potential for fires to spread quickly, as many dust particles are highly flammable and can easily ignite when exposed to heat or sparks. Flammable dust particles can accumulate, settle and become trapped, creating a massive fire hazard. Dust particles can also create weak or unstable factory roof structures that can easily collapse, causing property or personnel damage.
Safety Procedures to Implement When Cleaning Factory Roofs
Safety procedures must be observed when cleaning factory roofs in order to reduce the risk of an accident. To begin, the facility should be assessed in order to identify any potential hazards, such as flammable materials, debris, and other combustible dust particles. Once this assessment has been completed, the facility should be prepared for combustible dust cleaning, including the proper installation of safety barriers, tools, and PPE. Additionally, an approved cleaning plan should be created to ensure that all safety procedures are followed when carrying out combustible dust cleaning.
Measures to be Taken When Cleaning Factory Roof Structures
When conducting combustible dust cleaning of factory roof structures, several measures must be taken to ensure the safety of personnel and the facility. First, any combustible dust hazards should be identified and accounted for, such as potential spark sources and flammable materials. The dust should then be collected and removed, taking care to avoid the spreading of dust particles. Additionally, dust barriers should be laid down to help minimize the spread of dust throughout the facility. Finally, the area should be vacuumed thoroughly to remove any remnants of dust particles, ensuring that all equiment is safe to use for combustible dust cleaning.
Combustible dust cleaning is essential to ensuring the safety and operation of factory roof systems. It helps to reduce the risk of fires spreading quickly in the facility as well as weakening the structural integrity of the roofs. To ensure safety and promote proper combustible dust cleaning procedures, it is important to assess the facility, prepare the facility for cleaning, use proper PPE, establish an approved cleaning plan, identify combustible dust hazards, collect and remove the dust, lay down dust barriers, and vacuum the area.
Here at EC Industro, we specialize in providing innovative high-level cleaning solutions for factories. With ATEX certified equipment we are able to safely remove dusts in ATEX Zones 21 & 22. For more information about our services, take a look at The Ultimate Guide To High Level Cleaning. For Atex high level cleaning needs, you can get in touch with us here at EC Industro
What industries are at high risk of combustible dust incidents?
Industries such as food processing, woodworking, metalworking, chemical manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals are at high risk.
What is the definition of combustible dust?
Combustible dust is any finely divided solid material that is 420 microns or smaller in diameter and presents a fire or explosion hazard when dispersed and ignited in air.
What are some preventive measures for combustible dust incidents?
Preventive measures include hazard assessments, housekeeping practices, explosion protection, and employee training.
Are there regulatory requirements for combustible dust?
Regulatory requirements vary depending on the industry and jurisdiction, but OSHA has issued a National Emphasis Program for combustible dust.
What is the potential severity of a combustible dust incident?
The potential severity can include injury or loss of life, significant property damage, and business interruption. Secondary explosions can also occur, leading to more severe incidents.
How do you clean combustible dusts?
ATEX certified Industrial, equipment with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air filter) equiped vacuums are the main pieces of equipment for this type of cleaning. Broom sweeping and compressed air is not a viable means of cleaning combustible dust, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 654 Standard. AS this creates dust clouds and increases the risk of electro static discharge (ESD)
What is an example of a combustible dust?
Examples of combustible dusts are agricultral products such as: sugar, flour, rice, maize, whey etc.Agricultural dusts from processing of agricultural products. Carbonaceous dusts such as charcoal, wood, cellulose, etc. Metal dusts such as aluminium, bronze, magnesium and zinc. Chemical and plastic dusts that is smaller than 420 microns all have the potential of being classified as combustible dusts.