3. Understand the fire triangle and explosion pentagon. For a fire to occur, three key elements need to be present: oxygen, heat, and fuel. Remove one of these elements, and the risk is eliminated. For an explosion, five elements must combine — those necessary for a fire plus two others: dispersion (dust suspended in factory air) and confinement (dust concentrated in a small space). To mitigate an explosion risk, strive to remove one or more of these five elements. Removing any element of the fire triangle will prevent an explosion as well, but the inverse is not true: just eliminating dust dispersion or confinement is not enough to prevent a fire, so efforts need to focus on both hazards.
4. Develop a mitigation plan. Once you have determined the combustibility of your dust, you can develop a plan to mitigate the risks in your process. First, identify ways to limit dust accumulations to less than 0.8 mm (1/32 in.), as this is typically what OSHA looks for during inspections. However, housekeeping is only a partial solution. Also, consider the design of your dust collection system; for example, the physical location of the dust collector — outdoors versus indoors — will depend on the process hazards and risk assessment. Additionally, consider adding mitigation devices to your system, such as ignition controls or explosion vents. A wide range of fire and explosion mitigation equipment is available. Solutions focus on reducing the likelihood of an incident (prevention) and/or reducing the severity of an incident (protection). Selection should be based on the risks associated with the process. You can learn more about these in the interactive graphic below.
Donaldson can help review your mitigation strategies and integrate Donaldson equipment into your dust management strategy.