Combustible dust: A risk factor in the workplace

Combustible dust is an important topic for anyone working in agriculture or industrial workplaces. It's a major concern among those working with industrial safety, and not because of the risk of poor air quality associated with it.

Combustible dust is a danger to workers because it has a potential to catch on fire and combust rapidly. The dust, which comes from common materials such as coal, paper and wood, is extremely flammable due to a 360-degree surface. On top of this, the dust is likely to float in the air due to its small size, meaning that any fire can quickly spread throughout an area with dust contamination.

If the dust is resting on the ground, its surface area is less exposed, creating a lower risk of a rapidly spreading fire.

What can you do to reduce the risk of a fire?

Remember that dust is small and isn't likely to be seen until it settles. Using filters and fans can help get the dust out of the air, improving workplace air quality and reducing the risk of fire. Do your best to keep anything with flames away from dusty areas of the workplace; for example, if you have a silo with dust from grains, it would be wise to keep any fires away from that area of the work environment.

With good airflow and exhaust fans, it's possible to reduce the flammability of any room by removing dust. Keep this in mind, because it could help prevent serious work injuries from explosions and rapidly spreading fires.

Source: Performance Industrial, "What Is Combustible Dust?," accessed May 25, 2018

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