Combustible dust fires are a huge problem even if the federal government does not wish to characterize them as such. The issue is that it does not matter what type of dust is accumulating in an industrial plant; it can become combustible dust if the right conditions are present. This makes it imperative for manufacturers to control this dust so that they can prevent fires and explosions. Based on figures obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), industrial plants have a long way to go to prevent the chemical plant explosion from happening. The administration's data sheet showed that after several petrochemical plant explosions had occurred, no one working at these plants knew that they were at risk for such an event. Jeffrey C. Nichols is managing partner of Industrial Fire Prevention LLC, and he informs his clients that an industrial plant explosion needs three things to occur: 1. Fuel or "combustible dust" 2. Heat or "ignition source" 3. Oxidizer or the oxygen that is naturally present in the air Nichols informs his clients that they must be aware that these three elements are present at the same time if they wish to prevent a chemical plant accident. Once they know where the dust is located and what the possible ignition sources are, they can control these things before they can set off an industrial plant explosion. How to Prevent Explosions and Fires at Manufacturing Plants The State Fund and Mysafetynews.com have the following tips for manufacturers who wish to prevent combustible dust explosions:
- Perform effective housecleaning that removes excess dust from the premises. Manufacturers can do this by purchasing a dust collection or filter system and making sure to hook them up on the outside of the building or at least in a room other than where they are being used.
- Place equipment that has the potential to collect dust within an enclosure so that employees are protected. Manufacturers can also face this equipment away from where the employees are. If there is an explosion under these circumstances, it will be less severe.
- Take advantage of surfaces that reduce the amount of dust that they collect and are very easy to clean.
- Set up a schedule to clean the plant. This means that the equipment, ledges, floors and beams will need to be cleaned regularly so that dust does not have a chance to build up. This is done by first turning off all ignition and flame sources. Then, clean with an apparatus that will not create dust clouds. A vacuum cleaner rather than a blower would work best.
- The equipment and electrical wiring that is located where combustible dust is likely to collect must have received the appropriate rating to be placed within Class II areas.
- As static electricity sources are known to be fire and explosion ignition sources, they need to be controlled. Manufacturers can do this by grounding them. The equipment will need to be operated correctly, serviced on a regular basis and adequately maintained so that the grounding remains in place.
- Equipment that contains surfaces that heat up must be controlled.
Have You Been Involved in an Industrial Plant Explosion? You may have been involved in an industrial plant explosion that was caused by combustible dust. You will need a refinery explosion attorney to make sure that your rights are not violated by your employer or the owner of the plant. Only an industrial explosion lawyer knows exactly what must be done to make sure that you are compensated monetarily for the injuries that you suffered on the job. The same will be true if you live or work within close proximity of a plant that experienced an explosion. Contact an attorney today so that you can heal from your injuries as quickly as possible.