Benjamin Franklin was an author, inventor, politician and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He may also have had the uncanny ability to see into the future of the bulk material handling industry.
One of the most quotable figures in history, Franklin once famously said, “Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.” That particular comment referred to focusing on the positives in life rather than the negatives. But the words “injuries” and “dust” are applicable to industrial material handling operations, which didn’t exist in Ben’s day.
Dusting is one of the most common challenges for bulk material processors, largely due to the safety risks that stem from ineffective dust collection. Identifying the causes of dusting, implementing fixes and understanding the huge impact dusting can have on safety are critical to addressing the issue before it becomes a major problem. Fortunately, finding success in the fight against dusting is achievable with equipment solutions from Hapman.
The Danger is Real
Fully recognizing the dangers of dusting, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues citations for accumulations of combustible dust that exceed 1/32-inch deep (the thickness of a paper clip) and cover at least 5 percent of a room’s total area, or 1,000 square feet. The OSHA includes accumulations on overhead beams, joists, ducts and the tops of equipment when determining the dust coverage area.
Compliance with OSHA regulations is always advisable for any industrial facility, but one word stands out in the preceding paragraph: “combustible.” Airborne dust associated with the movement and handling of materials such as sugar, starch and coal has properties that make it highly flammable, and in many cases, capable of causing an explosion.
Another regulatory agency, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), has recently implemented changes to its 654 Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solid to better assist in the reduction of accidents associated with dusting. Specifically, the standard addresses secondary dust explosions caused by airborne dust or excessive dust accumulations, which have been responsible for much of the damage and many of the injuries resulting from major industrial explosions.
Additionally, employees who work in environments impacted by dusting are far more likely to experience safety concerns from coated surfaces. Airborne dust increases the risks to employees for injuries or other ailments caused by slip-and-fall accidents.
Equipped to Address the Issue
The threat dusting presents should not be taken lightly. Addressing it may appear to be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Hapman offers a variety of equipment that can help mitigate the threat and its impact on an operation. Our recommendations always depend on the specific needs of a particular application, but here are three equipment options that are commonly used to minimize dusting:
Dust control and risk mitigation go hand-in-hand for manufacturers who processes dry powders and other bulk materials. Getting a handle on this challenge by implementing some of the innovative safeguards available from Hapman can improve employee safety without diminishing profitability due to worker’s compensation claims and litigation. Because as Benjamin Franklin also said, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”