From sugar to wheat flour, a range of food products in processing plants is susceptible to combustible dust explosions. So, it is no surprise that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has always been strict with food plants regarding their dust collection systems. After all, combustible dust presents a fire hazard to the facility and the staff.
If you’re a food plant owner or a manager, here are steps to mitigate combustible dust explosions in your facility:
Run a Hazard Analysis
Before you can reduce or remove combustible dust, you must identify it through a hazard analysis. In this process, you can determine the risks associated with the types of dust present in your food plant. The analysis will also help you learn the appropriate control to prevent this hazard from endangering your staff and facility.
Define Your Dust
Not all dust particles possess similar properties. You need to test them for two factors, namely severity and probability, to better understand how to handle them. By checking the dust’s severity level, you’ll know at what level of temperature and pressure it will burn and explode. The dust's probability property will tell you the minimum ignition energy and temperature needed before it bursts. With these details, you can adjust your safety measures accordingly.
Implement Preventive Measures
Once you know what kind of dust you’re dealing with, take the necessary preventive measure to keep them from burning and exploding inside the facility. Install machines or devices, such as a dust collection booth or downdraft tables, to lessen the dust and improve the air quality in your food plant. Also, implement safe work methods to reduce the introduction of flame, sparks, and unnecessary heat into work processes. Above all, educate your personnel so they understand why they need to prevent combustible dust explosions.
With substantial preventive measures, you can ensure the safety of your food plant at all times. In turn, you can have a peace of mind and turn your focus on producing quality food products.