How can I prevent a dust explosion?

The first step in preventing a dust explosion is understanding the nature of your dust. Having your dust professionally tested will allow you to properly address the dangers, if any exist. A professional analysis of your dust will provide you with the dust’s Pmax and Kst values, figures that will tell you how potentially explosive the dust is.

If your dust is combustible, a full Process Hazard Analysis is advised. This analysis looks at how your dust is produced and how it propagates throughout your facility. Next, a list of recommendations will address ways to mitigate the dangers. These might include:

  • Altering the process so that dust particulates are coarser and less explosive
  • Adding screens or walls to limit the spread of dust or the spread of an explosion
  • Identifying and reducing possible sources of ignition

Actively filtering your air is another effective way to prevent a dust explosion. This practice prevents dust from reaching concentration levels necessary to produce an explosion. Many kinds of dust collectors are available, including both source capture and ambient capture units. A source capture unit collects dust close to the source or application. This is the most effective way to prevent dust from getting in the air. Ambient capture equipment filters the air throughout the entire facility, preventing an accumulation of dust in the air or on surfaces.

For more information on preventing dust explosions, check out OSHA’s manual: Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions.

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