Monday, September 28, 2009

Safety Pros Are Not Expendable

ASSE Prez: Safety Pros Are Not Expendable

DES PLAINES, IL -- In his address this week to attendees of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering's Conference in Calgary, Alberta, ASSE President C. Christopher Patton, CSP, discussed how safety, health and environmental professionals are weathering the difficult economic times and how businesses could lose productivity, efficiency and profitability without their expertise. [full story]

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Take Heed

Take heed. The CSB US Chemical Safety Board has finalized their report on the Imperial Sugar disaster, and concluded that the combustible dust explosions and consequential injuries and loss of life were preventable. While we do not necessarily believe all explosions are preventable, we do believe this report characterizes the sate of industry in this country. European countries have long implemented ATEX standards as law for preventing fires and explosions in process industry. In the United States, we have had current best engineering practices, NFPA and FM Global standards for preventing these type incidences for decades, but many in industry have ignored them, unless prompted by OSHA or their insurance company. This attitude gets people hurt. It opens your company up to lawsuits and affects your reputation in your community, industry, and with your customers. I have had many mangers tell me they have run their plants for years with no incidences of fires. Many times, I look around these plants and see evidence of combustible dust or other unsafe conditions. Just because you have never experienced a fire or explosion in your factory does NOT mean it cant happen to you. Understand that your processes aren't static. They change, the product mix changes, machinery and process performance changes over time. Small changes can create disastrous effects. Your plant may be an accident waiting to happen. Do not ignore warning signs. Smelling smoke, small fires, muffled booms are all warning signs of larger impending events. If you have combustible dust, it is just a matter of time. Take heed of the CSB report, and implement theses recommendations at your facility, before it is too late.

Imperial Sugar Refinery report: routine housekeeping might have prevented explosion

Workers Comp Insider -Imperial Sugar Refinery report: routine ...
By Julie Ferguson
A year and a half after the Imperial Sugar combustible dust explosion, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued its final report on the explosion, which killed 14 workers and injured 36 others, leaving some with permanent, life-altering ...
Workers Comp Insider -
Report says Imperial Sugar could have prevented refinery explosion
MSN Money
“The CSB recommendations are excellent guidance for the control and management of combustible dust," Sheptor said. "Imperial accepts the CSB recommendations ...
See all stories on this topic

Imperial Sugar Tragedy: "Entirely Preventable" | CtW Connect
By Jason Lefkowitz
The culprit is what experts call “combustible dust” — tiny particles of certain materials (like sugar) that are thrown off in manufacturing and agricultural processes. Unless steps are taken to disperse the particles, they build up ...
CtW Connect -

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sawdust Fire Difficult to Extinguish

Sawdust fires can indeed be hard to fight. First you are dealing with a very combustible product. Second it is conveyed to a dust collector with all the ingredients for a fire and deflagration. All that is needed is a spark to complete the Fire Triangle. As per NFPA 664, a listed Spark Detection & Extinguishing System in the conveying system is a very effective tool in preventing this type of fire. Third, saw dust is typically stored in a silo or bin with enough volume that it is hard to extinguish any embedded embers or fires not matter how good your sprinkler or deluge system, because the water will tunnel through the material instead of wetting it thoroughly and consistently. And fourth, with enough combustible dust disbursed within the vessel, as you empty it you create an increasingly explosive atmosphere . Firefighters are at risk of injury when opening a dust collector or storage vessel as they are adding oxygen to a combustible dust cloud with an embedded ember.

Sawdust Fire Proves Difficult to Extinguish in Ind. (subscription) - USA
... Chief Dave Huff said he was unsure what ignited the highly combustible material. ... Also, a cable holding up the dust collector unit, or baghouse, ...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sugar Case Gets Hearing

Imperial Sugar is finally getting back up and running. A tragedy that should never have happened. Adequate and properly engineered dust control systems, dust collection, controls and interlocks, systems and procedures, safety equipment, and housekeeping can prevent most if not all combustible dust fires and explosions. Fire prevention is both a science and an attitude. It must come from the top down.

Sugar Case Gets Hearing
GPB - Atlanta,GA,USA
... Feburary of 2008 that investigators believe was caused by combustible dust. The plaintiffs allege that the operators maintained lax safety precautions. ...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

OSHA continues crackdown on combustible dust hazards

A good article from our friends at Wood & Wood Products magazine on the continuing and stepped up OSHA Combustible Dust hazard inspections, and what it means for your plant. Repeat violations are being levied with large fines.
For wood dust, the most cost effective protection is a listed Spark Detection & Extinguishing System to prevent fires and explosions in the incipient stage. With the addition of sprinkler and deluge systems, explosion vents, and an abort gate on any return air systems, you will typically be well covered.
OSHA continues crackdown on combustible dust hazards
By Rich Christianson - Would your plant pass muster if Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors knocked on your door unannounced looking for potential combustible dust hazards?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


From our friend Dr. Saraf with the Risk & Safety Blog, comes another excellent brief, this time on Expanding Vapor Explosions. This is not on our usual topic of combustible dusts fire & explosion prevention, but is relevant for our customers in many industries we deal in.


BLEVE stands for Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion

If a tank containing liquid is subjected to external fire, the heat from the fire lead to boiling of the liquid. This in turn leads to increased pressure in the tank. This “boiling” liquid and “expanding” vapor may increase the pressure significantly and cause the tank to rupture. If the released liquid is flammable , it can catch on fire resulting in a fire and explosion.

The following video demonstrates the BLEVE phenomenon:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recent Recycling Plant Explosions

Recent Recycling Plant Explosions

In reference to combustible dust and in the wake of recent recycling plant fires and explosions, we need to increase awareness of combustible dust hazards in the recycling process industry.

We have protected many types of recycling plants in many industries. Many forms of recycling plants including paper, wood, rubber, aluminum, lead, even batteries and tires, etc. often create combustible dust as a byproduct, similar to their parent primary manufacturing processes. We have even helped protect military installations where they were grinding everything from paperwork to munitions! However the recycling industry can be as, or even more hazardous because of the nature of the byproducts from recycling, as well as the creation of sparks from fractioning recycled materials. Of course any time you have fugitive dust it is typically conveyed to a dust collector containing the comdust and oxygen, two of the three main ingredients to the fire triangle.

Disburse this air-fuel mix within a confined space such as a dust collector, storage bin or silo, and you now have the perfect recipe for a significant combustion event - a deflagration!. All you then need to complete the fire triangle or explosion pentagon is a single spark from friction or heat. Many recyclers are literally "playing with fire!"

Solutions can include Spark Detection & Extinguishing Systems, and Fire & Explosion Protection Systems, depending on the process and combustibility of the product and fugitive dust. The keys to prevention and mitigation are process hazard analysis, as well as correctly engineered process, controls, dust collection, and safety systems, and training.
-Jeff Nichols

Company faces huge fine because of violations at multiple locations » Blog Archive » Company faces huge fine ...
By Fred Hosier
lack of employee training; exposure to electric shocks; lack of fall protection; lack of machine guards; exposure to noise hazards; struck-by dangers, and; accumulation of combustible dust. Sims also faces other-than-serious citations ... -