Look up, and think about dust

Featured on the website last week, and in the technical articles in this week’s newsletter, is a new safety video from the US Chemical Safety Board. I can now hear you getting bored! But this one kept me watching the whole inevitable build-up to total plant destruction via chain-reaction explosions, in three separate major accidents, all fed by unseen dust accumulations: and all starting from far less significant incidents. The animation and explanation from the CSB is excellent: while the full video is 30 minutes, the time spent watching it could be invaluable.

These were not run-down old fashioned plants, these were modern plants, one a clean looking pharmaceutical components plant. Several of them had passed operational safety inspections ‘with flying colours’ in the weeks prior to the explosions, but not even these Government officials carrying out the safety inspections were tasked with thinking about combustible dust hazards. The causes are not some exotic effect like electrostatics, but normal, small plant incidents, which set off the whole reaction chain.

Legislative changes are at last coming, with the new US administration looking to add checks on combustible dust hazards to factory inspection and safety regulations. The CSB has been at the forefront of the pressure groups trying to get this implemented in the USA, after having seen over 281 fires and explosions of this type in 25 years, with many workers killed and injured: for example 14 workers were killed at a sugar plant explosion in Georgia. And that was in 2008, as recent as last year!

Read the story now, on (Link), then view the video on line, via the CSB website, (Link), or YouTube. Then I challenge you to walk round your plant without a quick glance upwards, to see the heaters, cable trays, pipe and duct work in your roof spaces!