Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Safeguarding Against Dust Explosions

What is a dust explosion?

Dust explosions are a result of the rapid burning of flammable mixtures, such as those found in dust clouds in a workshop environment when mixed with the surrounding air. When this mixture is combined with an ignition source, e.g. a flame, and the dust particles have gathered into a big enough group to keep the flame sustained, the dust cloud becomes combustible. Research has shown that 70% of all powders are flammable, owing to their particle size and density which allows them to sustain the flame long enough for combustion.

If the dust particles are freely moving and are heated sufficiently, this will cause a flash fire which will momentarily combust. However, if the dust particles are concentrated within a small area, such as a vent or inlet for machinery, this will cause an explosion and can result in complete destruction of the machinery and even the building.

Because it takes time for enough dust to build up and result in an explosion, proper precautions and vigilance can reduce the likelihood of an explosion from happening.

What is special about dust explosions?

The biggest cause of dust explosions is from friction and mechanical failure. Unlike gas or solvents, dust particles pose a bigger risk to workshop machinery and workers' safety. Whereas gas and solvent particles can dissipate into the air and fall below flammable levels, dust particles are heavier than air and therefore fall onto surfaces until a strong enough air current raises them back into the air where they can regroup with other dust particles. If a big enough collection of particles is made and the conditions for combustion are met, this can result in an explosion. This is why finer particles are more of a danger, because larger particles are less likely to enter the free flowing air again, whereas smaller particles are much lighter, and therefore easier for the air to carry.

This poses a very real risk for machinery such as sanders, saws, and lathes where wood waste is produced.

Invest in a Dust Extraction System

As you can see, there is plenty of reason to invest in a dust extraction system. Not only are the potential dangers to machinery and your working environment a real problem, but with all of that dust floating about in the air, improper ventilation could also affect the health of your workers and put them at undue risk.

Article Source:

Article Source:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fike Presents SigniFire

Fike's SigniFire video image detection system is a unique and innovative camera based detection system that visually detects the presence of smoke and flame at its source. Independent of air flow in the area, providing a critical advantage for early warning fire detection.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dust Explosion - Penn State Extension Demonstration

Under the right conditions, a dust explosion can cause devastating consequences. This short presentation by Davis Hill from the Penn State Agricultural Safety and Health Program demonstrates what is needed to produce a violent explosion.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed

CSB safety video about a fatal combustible dust explosion at the AL Solutions metal recycling facility in New Cumberland, West Virginia. The December 9, 2010 accident at the facility that milled and processed scrap titanium and zirconium metal killed three employees and injured a contractor.

Friday, February 12, 2016

3 Kinds Of Reasons To Do Fire Risk Management - Business Fire Safety Training

Fire risk management is often considered the best starting point when trying to prevent fires. There are several reasons for carrying out fire risk management and some of the reasons can be categorized in the following 3 ways:


Moral considerations should be the prime reason for managing risk. Persons should not be exposed to intolerable risk while resorting to premises or in the employ of others. A moral code exists in most countries; therefore we expect employers or other responsible persons to treat the health and safety of occupiers of the premises as being of greater importance than financial profit.

Moral considerations are based on the concept of the 'Responsible Person' owing a duty of reasonable care to relevant 'Persons'. A person does not expect to risk life or serious injury as a condition of resorting to a premises or whilst in employment.


Where a business is unfortunate enough to suffer a fire, there is a very strong possibility that it may never resume. Even a small fire can cause severe disruption. Apart from the physical and costly effects of smoke and heat, fire may also cause costly and lengthy interference to services such as electrical, telecommunications, heating etc. leading to a temporary shutdown of the facility and an immediate loss in revenue.

When a business is part of a supply chain, the loss of that particular business can have a knock on effect on other businesses reliant on the supply of products, leading to a wide spread financial loss. Even if a business is brought back into operation, it is quite conceivable that customers have moved their buying power to other suppliers. Unless the down time caused by a fire is minimal, skilled staff are quite likely to move to new positions elsewhere therefore leading to a skills\shortage on re-start.

The loss of a major employer can have a detrimental financial impact on the local community. The impact on an individual will be devastating, however the knock on effect caused by the loss of the individuals spending power will also affect other local businesses and services that in turn may have to downsize or could close altogether. This can lead to an economic downward spiral plunging an area in to social deprivation. In certain circumstances, the stigma associated with a fire ravaged premises can mean that it never fully recovers even after being rebuilt. There could be a strong negative effect on revenue when prospective clients would learn about a previous fire in a care home for example.

When a building suffers from a fire, it is almost guaranteed that insurance companies will increase insurance premiums and any excess on the policy. Additional safeguards will also be expected to avoid repetition.


When an establishment provides a unique or vital service, the loss of that provision can have a severe detrimental effect on the local community or in some cases a much wider area. The disruption caused to the public or service continuity when a hospital or a school is closed down for a few weeks can have severe consequences on the society's health and wellbeing, both physical and mental stress. These events can lead to a lack of confidence in the society's ability to manage itself, which would also have a negative effect on the society's economic climate if people become more reluctant to use the services provided locally and travel elsewhere to fulfill their needs.

Article Source:

Article Source:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dust Deflagration Hazards in Pharmaceutical OSD Facilities and the Requirements of the New NFPA 652

Many of the powders that are used in the production of pharmaceutical oral solid dosage (OSD) formulations are combustible, and since most operations in pharmaceutical facilities can create explosible atmospheres, dust cloud explosion hazards should be expected. 

Explosion hazards associated with powders will influence the specification of operating procedures, process equipment, HVAC systems, electrical area classification, and room construction. It is therefore necessary for OSD manufacturers to clearly understand the deflagration hazards presented by the powders utilized in their processes and be able to assess the level of deflagration risk that their operations may present.

Deflagration is a term describing subsonic combustion propagating through heat transfer (i.e., hot burning material heating the next layer of cold material and igniting it).

It is the expectation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that employers maintain a workplace free of hazards that are likely to cause injury or death to employees, including combustible dust deflagration hazards.

In addition, OSHA expects employers to assess dust explosion hazards and apply appropriate safeguards in keeping with current codes, standards, and best practices to prevent injuries. One new standard that is applicable to all powder handling/processing operations, including pharmaceutical solid formulation operations, is NFPA 652—Standard on Fundamentals of Combustible Dusts, 2016 Edition (Ref. 1), which states that the facility, processes, and equipment shall be designed, constructed, equipped, and maintained. And management systems shall be implemented to:

  1. Reasonably protect occupants not in the immediate proximity of the ignition from the effects of fire for the time needed to evacuate, relocate, or take refuge.
  2. Prevent serious injury from flash fires and explosions.
  3. Ensure the ongoing production/operating capability of the facility.

Dust Cloud Deflagration Hazards

When finely divided combustible powder particles are suspended in air in sufficient concentration and ignited by a sufficiently energetic ignition source, a combustion reaction can propagate through the dust cloud. If the speed of the flame-front through the unreacted medium is less than the speed of sound, the event is, by definition, a deflagration.

These rapid combustion processes create extreme temperatures (and possibly combustion gases) which cause a pressure wave to precede the flame-front. The pressure wave moves through the unburned dust cloud at the speed of sound. This pressure wave and the resulting fireball can cause significant damage and severe injury to personnel.

The new NFPA 652 requires the owner/operator of a facility with potentially combustible dusts to determine whether the materials that they are handling/processing are combustible or explosible and, if so, to characterize their ignition sensitivity and explosion severity properties, as required to support the dust hazard assessment (DHA).

NFPA 652 further states that the evaluation of the hazard of a combustible dust should be determined by the means of actual test data. Where dusts are determined to be combustible or explosible, additional testing shall be performed to acquire the data necessary to support the compliance requirements of this standard.

The testing requirements will vary depending upon the process operations, but relevant data typically includes the Deflagration Index (Kst), Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE), Minimum Ignition Temperature (MIT), Minimum Explosible Concentration (MEC), and Limiting Oxygen Concentration (LOC).

If the material is determined to be sensitive to ignition from electrostatic sources (i.e., typically having an MIE of less than 25 mJ), electrostatic properties, such as the Volume Resistivity and Chargeability (mass charge density) of the powder, should also be considered.

NFPA 652 allows the use of historical facility data or published data only if it is deemed to be representative of current materials and process conditions. However, as these properties are strongly dependent upon specific parameters, such as particle size, moisture content, oxidant concentration, and the presence of flammable vapors, caution should be exercised in its use.

Specific particle shape and size distribution will vary from operation to operation and can make a significant difference in explosion properties. If a deflagration hazard is suspected, it is recommended that a qualified laboratory determine these explosion properties via experiments, using site-specific samples.  

Dust Deflagration Hazards in OSD Operations

When handling combustible solid materials, a deflagration hazard is present whenever fine powder particles (dust) become suspended in air. This may be intentional, for example during fluidized bed drying, or unintentional, such as powder transfer to vessels or powder blending. NFPA 562 requires that the safety of the occupants, facility, processes, and equipment shall be achieved by either a prescriptive approach or a performance-based design approach.

The prescriptive approach involves:

  • Determination of the combustibility/explosibility characteristics of process dusts and powders.
  • Performing a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA).
  • Conducting a documented risk assessment to determine the level of building design and protection features needed.
  • Establishing a written management systems and procedures for operating the facility and equipment to prevent or mitigate fires, deflagrations, and explosions from combustible particulate solids.

Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) is a systematic review to identify and evaluate the potential fire, flash fire, and explosion hazards associated with the presence of combustible particulate solids in a process or facility, and to determine what safeguards could be implemented to prevent or mitigate the hazards.  DHA must be conducted by someone who, by education, certificate, professional standing, or skill and who, by knowledge, training, and experience, has demonstrated the ability to deal with problems related to processing and managing combustible particulate solids.

A DHA does not need to comply with the Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) requirements of the OSHA regulation, 29 CFR 1910.119 (e). NFPA 652 requires that for existing processes that are not undergoing material modification, exceeding 25 percent of the original cost, the owner/operator shall schedule and complete dust hazards analyses (DHA) within a three-year period of the effective date of the standard.

Additionally, the DHA should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes to the process, the equipment, and process materials, as well as any new learnings related to operational safety to ensure that the DHA continues to be an accurate and up-to-date reference for continued safe operation of the process. The review and update could be conducted on a repeat frequency of five to seven years.

If the prescriptive method proves to be impractical for some reason, NFPA 652 permits the use of a performance-based alternative design approach for a process, or part of a process, specific material, or piece of equipment in lieu of the prescriptive requirements of the standard. The performance-based design shall be based on the appropriate combustibility/explosibility characteristics of the dusts and be prepared by a person with qualifications acceptable to the owner/operator.

Additionally, all calculations, references, assumptions, and sources from which material characteristics and other data have been obtained, or on which the designer has relied for some material aspect of the design, shall be documented in accordance with the requirements of this standard.

Operations where dust deflagration hazards must be considered during the design of an OSD facility will typically include:

  • Powder transfer operations
  • Blending
  • Granulation
  • Drying
  • Milling
  • Sieving
  • Compression/coating
  • Packaging
  • Dust collection 
During the design (or review) of the process(s), Basis of Safety needs to be defined and documented for each unit operation. A basis of safety is the logic, systems, and procedures (safeguards) in place to ensure that an ignitable atmosphere does not occur, or if it cannot be avoided, that an effective ignition source is not present.
Beyond prevention, protection features may also need to be considered to mitigate the effects of ignition. The selected basis of safe operation will be a function of the type of operation, potential ignition sources, the flammability properties of the materials being handled, and the tolerable risk level. Typical bases of safety used in the pharmaceutical industry are shown in Table 1.

When selecting a Basis of Safety, consideration should be given to the effectiveness of each method, reliability of the system, and the personnel hazards inherent in each method. Further guidance on the applicability and design of such systems can be found in Industry or commodity-specific NFPA standards and guidelines such as:

  • NFPA 68 Guide for Venting of Deflagrations
  • NFPA 69 Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems
  • NFPA 70 National Electric Code
  • NFPA 77 Recommended Practice on Static Electricity
  • NFPA 499 Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas
  • NFPA 652 Standard on Fundamentals of Combustible Dusts
  • NFPA 654 Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids

Other Facility Design Considerations

The processing of combustible materials can also require modifications to the design of the facility. In areas of the facility where dust deflagration hazards can exist, external to processing equipment, the NFPA standards require the process room to be provided with explosion venting and damage-limiting wall construction, which could prove to be costly and difficult to achieve. Recognizing the potential for deflagration hazards early and improving process containment during the design may avoid this situation.

In summary, key measures for deflagration hazard control associated with operations and processes where potentially combustible/explosible powders are present include:

  • Investigation of the validity of any available laboratory data to support the compliance requirements of NFPA 652.
  • Identification of any gaps that might exist in the required laboratory data.
  • Identification of the dust sample(s) that need to be tested and performance of the necessary laboratory tests.
  • Conducting a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA).
  • Identification of the gaps in the dust fire, explosion prevention and protection requirements.
  • Identification of the gaps in the dust hazard management systems.
  • Implementing effective measures for ensuring safety of personnel, operations, facility and the community, and assurance of compliance with the requirements of applicable codes and standards.

By applying the above measures, the deflagration hazard associated with the manufacture of pharmaceutical OSD forms can be effectively controlled and risk minimized.


  1. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471
Dr. Vahid Ebadat Ph.D., M.Inst.P, MIEE, C.Eng., C.Phys. is the Chief Technical Officer of Chilworth and CEO of Chilworth Asia Pacific. He has worked extensively as a process and operational hazards consultant for the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. Dr. Ebadat is a member of NFPA 77 Technical Committee on Static Electricity, NFPA 654 Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particular Solids and ASTM E27 Committee on Hazard Potential of Chemicals.

Click here to read the September edition of Pharmaceutical Processing

Article Source:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

ProInert2 by Fike -- Inert Gas Discharge Pressure Demonstration

The PROINERT2 fire suppression system is 100% natural, chemical-free and has ZERO global warming potential. This environmentally safe fire suppression system includes a unique patented valve assembly which results in a safer discharge and reduces installation cost by as much as 60%. This video demonstrates how the patented valve assembly in the PROINERT2 system discharges at a steady flow rate, preventing turbulence and potential damage to the room.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Benefits of Gas Detection Systems and What You Need to Know

As a business owner where you send your teams to work in hazardous working conditions, you need to take all the safety protocols into consideration to ensure their safety at all times. Any company that uses gas, should take advantage of gas detection systems, which can make a significant different between life and death in the event of a gas leak or serious problem.

One of the main benefits of gas detection systems in hazardous working environments is the protection that they provide. Teams are immediately made aware of any problems, giving them the ability to evacuate the area before the problem becomes more serious. This also enables the company to send an experienced professional into the area to detect the problem and make necessary repairs. This can be beneficial in a host of industries where team's lives may be at risk should a gas leak occur.

Another benefit of gas detection systems is that you enjoy peace of mind that gas levels are constantly being monitored. In the event that gas is detected late, this can lead to serious implications, even possible death. If the teams are working with welding equipment or open flames, then the risk is increased even further than if they were just to breathe in the gas until they can get out to safety. As gas leak is exceptionally serious and you cannot take a risk with your teams working in conditions where an undetected leak can lead to serious bodily harm.

Further, you will find that gas detection systems can also help you reduce your maintenance costs now and moving forward. By knowing that your systems are running properly and there are no gas leaks, you can maintain your systems with ease. When you know there is a potential problem, you can arrange immediate repair and enjoy peace of mind that you are doing everything possible to keep your teams safe at all times.

In addition to this, one of the many benefits to installing gas detection systems at your business is that you are complying with health and safety regulations. It is your duty as a business owner to ensure that the health and safety regulations are adhered to at all times. In addition to having to comply, you also want to do it to ensure the safety of your teams at all times, which means that you are doing everything you can to ensure their safety every time they come into work and work in some of the most dangerous working environments.

When it comes to gas detection systems, there is more than simply having the system installed. You want to focus on every aspect of the team's safety, ensuring that if they are engulfed by gas, they know where to go and how to escape the dangerous situation they have found themselves in.

This is why it's advisable to find a reputable company to assist you in the planning of your gas detection systems, ensuring that you have all the procedures and products in place to reduce injury or harm to your team members. This should include alarm systems. When the gas detection system identifies a problem, it should sound an alarm which immediately tells the team that there is a problem and they need to get to safety immediately.

Further, you should consider adding lighting. If the gas detection system identifies a problem and the alarm sounds and then there is an explosion which cuts the power, you need to know your teams can still find their way out of where they are and get to safety in the shortest period of time.

Article Source:

Article Source: