Friday, January 30, 2009

Dust Explosion Suppression Implemented

Staubexplosions (dust explosions) are in the news again but in a good way. Kraiburg TPE, a German company, which manufactures thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) products based on HSBC (hydrogenated styrene block copolymers) has shared with all industry stakeholders the preventative and mitigative control measures implemented at their facilities in reducing the severity of dust explosions.

The informative article "Playing it Safe," notes that of over a thousand different materials utilized in the various Kraiburg TPE manufacturing processes, approximately 50 are characterized as combustible dust. To address the potential combustible dust explosive atmosphere in the plant, Karl-Heinz Ortmeier, project manager at Kraiburg TPE initiated a thorough process hazard analysis (PHA).

Subequently, after conferring with fire protection engineers concerning the results of the PHA,
Kidde, a global leader in fire/explosion protection, installed an explosion suppression system in the plant. The system includes explosion pressure sensors, detecting an initial explosion, which then transmits the signal to a detection and control center, were next the HRD (High Rate Discharge)-cylinder is activated suppressing the verpuffung (deflagration) with sodium bicarbonate in milliseconds.

It's not to often where such transparency is offered for others to witness and maybe think about what dust explosion methods are utilized at their manufacturing facility. NFPA 654 " Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids," has an excellent section in the Annex concerning explosion suppression that is a must to read.

For many of us not yet fluent in German, use the Google Toolbar to translate the very informative "Playing it Safe," article.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Staubexplosion German Pellet Mill

Here is an interesting global update with a dust explosion (staubexplosion) at a wood pellet mill in Ettenheim, Germany that occurred January 4. Use the Google Toolbar to translate from German to English for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. It's interesting to note how well versed the news reporter is in reporting that a dust explosion occurred while providing readers detailed information about the process equipment where the explosion originated, the hammer mill.

Last year in the United States, nearly a half a dozen combustible dust related fires and explosions occurred in wood pellet plants within a short time span of three months. Of the over 150 combustible dust related explosions and fires that the Combustible Dust Policy Institute found through media reports in 2008 at manufacturing facilities, most of the time there's never a headline like in the German online article where the incident was actually a dust explosion (staubexplosion). Instead in our regional news, readers must carefully search for key words as the reporter describes the fire or explosion. Such as a fire in the ductwork or explosion in the dust collector.

An exception to news reporting of dust explosions in the United States occurred January 20, 2009 when news reporter Cara Spoto of the Freeport, Illinois Journal Standard, reported on the dust explosion at an Ethanol plant in Monroe, Wisconsin. One does not easily find news reports like this describing the event in such detail and even mentioning the dryer. Quite similiar to the mention of the hammer mill in the German wood pellet mill dust explosion

Most revealing, the term deflagration (verpuffung), was used three times in the informative article. A deflagration is rapid subsonic combustion where there is also a rapid rise in pressure and heat. There's good deflagrations, like the reusable solid rocket boosters when the Space Shuttle launches with the assistance of over 320,00 lbs of micronized aluminum dust and of course there is bad deflagrations that we sometimes read about in the news with dust explosions occuring in a diverse spectrum of industry.

Many fires and explosions that occur in the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors that are combustible dust related never get reported as such, since reporters and the general public are not yet knowledgeable about deflagrations. It's difficult enough to say the word without getting tongue tied. Much less acknowledge that products on the supermarket aisle, so harmless as milk powder and dairy creamer can level a production facility, causing fatalities and injuries.

German research scientists have been studying dust explosions for over a century and have assisted their global trading partners with the wealth of knowledge they have acquired. Check out the GESTIS-DUST-EX database on the German BGIA - Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website for ignition sensitivity and explosion severity data of more than 4,000 dust samples from a multitude of sectors.

Its interesting to note that the deflagration index Kst, in regards to testing for explosion severity in the laboratory also has German roots, as the subscript (st) denotes staub, the German word for dust, thus staubexplosion. So remember next time you turn the ignition with your keys to start your car, your having a good verpuffung when the fuel-air mixture in your engine ignites creating a good deflagration transforming chemical energy into useful mechanical energy for the daily commute to work or run errands in town.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Industry Leader Mitigates Dust Explosion

Badger State Ethanol an industry leader provides an excellent example how best engineering practices in reducing the severity of dust explosions can be utilized in preserving life safety, structural integrity, and mission continuity following the recent combustible dust related fire and explosion at it's Monroe, Wisconsin ethanol plant.

An excellent news report by Cara Spoto of the Freeport, Illinois Journal Standard describes how a fire originating in the dryer after a dust explosion spread to the ductwork. Firefighters from surrounding communities successfully battled the blaze in subfreezing weather and damage was kept to a minimum according to General Manager Gary Kramer.

The most interesting and educational aspect of the story, is mention that explosion ventilation panels successfully reduced the severity of the incident. Additional information on best engineering practices in preventing and mitigating combustible dust related fires and explosions in dryers can be found in the NFPA 86 Ovens and Furnace Standard and NFPA 61: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities,

Over the past year, through media accounts, there's been over a dozen combustible dust related fires and explosions in the nation's 172 operating ethanol plants. The Combustible Dust Policy Institute has found that over 50% of these incidents have occurred in the dryer. The United State is not alone where combustible dust related fires and explosion are occuring at ethanol plants. Last month, at Manildra, Australia's largest ethanol distillery in New South Wales experienced a dust explosion in the dryer that also was successfully mitigated with explosion ventilation panels.

According to the excellent text, Handbook of Industrial Drying 3rd edition, edited by Arun S.Mujumdar, data has indicated that the accident rates concerning dryer fires and explosions is prevalent on a global basis. It's only when proactive preventative and mitigative measures are implemented as outlined in the National Fire Protection Association combustible dust standards that the probability and severity of the occurrence is substantially reduced.

For additional information on identifying, evaluating, and controlling the risk from combustible dust related fires and explosions throughout industry, be sure to attend the Combustible Dust Hazard Awareness workshop at the 4th Annual Industrial Fire, Safety, and Security conference (IFSS 2009), Feb. 3-6 2009 at the Reliant Center (next to the Astrodome) in Houston, Texas. Call (832) 242-1969 for additional information.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dust Collector Explosion Protection-Webinar

Tomorrow at 12:00 NOON (EST) Gary Johnson, an experienced industrial ventilation and process safety consultant will be presenting a two hour webinar on "Dust Collection: Dust Collector Explosion Protection/Prevention Options,"moderated by Robert Harkin, Associate Editor of Powder and Bulk Engineering.

After the webinar, attendees can e-mail questions and comments. Thats a great deal for $50. Especially since over 50% of combustible dust related fires and explosions in 2008, through media accounts, have occurred in the dust collector. Don't find out the hard way that the dust collector at your facility can possibly create some costly downtime without the proper preventative and mitigative fire/explosion control measures. This is a great way to start the new year out right.

In the meantime be sure to check out the multitude of educational resources that can be found online at
Powder and Bulk Engineering. and Gary's website Workplace Exposure Solutions LLC

Gary Q. Johnson-Workplace Exposure Solutions LLC
Dust Collector Webinar
Webinar Registration $50
Fike -sponsor
Powder and Bulk Engineering.-Host

Friday, January 16, 2009

Flame Resistant Clothing/Combustible Dust Hazards-Podcast#5

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David Osbon, Product Manager at Unifirst shares with listeners the importance of wearing flame resistant clothing (FRC) at facilities that handle combustible particulate solids that generate combustible dust. In the instance of a combustible dust related fire or explosion the thermal effects can cause severe burn injuries in addition to fatalities

The importance of workers donning personnel protective equipment (PPE) takes on an added dimension with the threat from combustible dust related fires and explosions in the workplace. Many manufacturing facility managers, owners, and employees are not aware of the fire hazard from combustible dust incidents when workers can sustain life threatening burns like occur in the refinery sector from vapor cloud explosions and flash fires, where the wearing of FRC's is required.

Reviewing the OSHA Combustible Dust NEP reference is made in the citations section:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Violations
. Citations under 1910.132(a) (the general requirement to provide and assure the use of protective equipment, including protective clothing) may be issued, if an employee exposure to potential burn injuries can be documented. For example, if employees are not wearing protective clothing, such as flame-resistant clothing , in areas of the plant (e.g., bagging areas) where employees may be exposed to potential flash fire hazards, then citations under 1910.132(a) may be issued. A citation may be issued whether or not an accident precipitated the inspection.

Additionally, in regards to the life safety issue of donning FRC's in the workplace, the OSHA General Duty Clause requires that employers provide FRC's to employees when a hazard is potentially present from combustible dust related fires and explosions. Furthermore the OSHA Dust NEP states:

"...National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2113, Standard on Selection, Care, Use and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire is a national consensus standard which applies to, among others, chemical, refining, and terminal facilities with flash fire hazards..."

NFPA 70E Electrical Safety in the Workplace
NFPA 2112: Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire, National Consensus Standard
ASTM Committee E27.05 on Explosibility and Ignitability of Dust Clouds
ASTM Committee F-23 on Protective Clothing
Podcasts-Combustible Dust Hazard Awareness

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Indiana Dust Explosion-Nation's First for 2009

First manufacturing sector dust explosion of the year in the USA, amazingly less than two weeks after the last explosion when a grain facility explosion injured three workers a few days after Christmas in Maricopa, Arizona and now another explosion has occurred at a furniture manufacturing plant in Jasper, Indiana sending ten workers to the hospital according to news accounts.

Dust explosions do not differentiate between the grain, manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and utility sectors. It's been nearly a year since the catastrophic Imperial Sugar Refinery dust explosion that claimed 14 lives and over 40 injuries at the Port Wentworth, Georgia facility.

Immediately after the Imperial Sugar incident, legislators drafted a worker protection combustible dust bill, "HR 5522: Worker Protection against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act, " which meagerly passed in the House and is awaiting vote in the Senate in between a change of White House leadership. Current OSHA regulations have no specific protective provisions for the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors concerning combustible dust hazards like are already in place for the nation's grain facilities with the OSHA Grain Facility Standard.

Yet, facilities can be cited by OSHA inspectors for poor housekeeping and dangerous electrical hazardous locations where potential explosive atmospheres of combustible dust are present. Additionally, through national consensus where a standard duty of care is required by employers the General Duty Clause can be enforced, referencing the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) combustible dust standards, concerning combustible dust hazards that employees are potentially exposed too.

Are governmental inspections enough? The U.S. 2002 Economic Census listed over 4,000 establishments in the national industry of nonupholstered wood household furniture manufacturing, which the Indiana facility is listed under. Over that past 12 months with OSHA's limited resources, 112 furniture plants, or less than 3% were inspected and as the numbers dwindled even lower, according to the OSHA database, only seven of the thousands of the nonupholstered wood household furniture facilities were inspected with an emphasis on combustible dust as outlined in the OSHA's Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP)

It's to early to be an armchair quarterback, trying to figure what happened in the recent unfortunate Jasper, Indiana dust explosion. Amazingly there were no fatalities so life safety was preserved. Mission continuity will be disrupted for awhile and it appears from pictures in news accounts that the structural integrity of the building is intact. It's not a good time for a plant to be shut down for repairs with employees out of work during these tough economic times. The nation prays for a fast recovery of the workers that were admitted to the hospital. Hopefully real soon everything will get back to normal on the production line.

In the meantime who's next? A combustible dust related fire or explosion is inevitable within the next few days. In 2008, the Combustible Dust Policy Institute found through media reports over 200+ combustible dust related fires and explosions in the manufacturing, non-manufacturing, utility, and grain sectors, for an average of four incidents a week. But those are just the incidents that appear in media accounts. Like an iceberg adrift on the ocean with only the tip showing, there are many more that are unreported. This results in industry stakeholders never knowing the probability of an incident occurring at their facility. One has better odds at the Blackjack table in Vegas, at least you know what your hand is.

For additional information on identifying, evaluating, and controlling the hazards of combustible dust related fires and explosions at your facility, the Combustible Dust Policy Institute in conjunction with the 4th Annual Industrial Fire, Safety, and Security Conference -IFSS 2009 will be hosting a Two Day Combustible Dust Hazard Workshop at the Reliant Center(next to the Astrodome), February 3-4, 2009, in Houston Texas.

IFSS 2009 Conference Contacts
Phone: (832) 242-1969
Fax: (832) 242-1971

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

OSHA Ethanol Plant Safety Training

In addition to combustible dust related fires and explosions in the manufacturing sector, media accounts reported nine ethanol plant fires and explosions for 2008. Several of these incidents involved dryers and duct work, which is combustible dust related. Through researching these events, the Combustible Dust Policy Institute found that over 30% of these incidents occurred in South Dakota, a leading grain producing state.

To proactively address the issue of fire and explosions hazards, the Office of Engineering Extension at South Dakota State University is offering a 10-hour, OSHA voluntary compliance safety and health course for the ethanol industry Jan. 21-22 at the Days Inn on East 6th Street, Brookings, South Dakota. The course is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Cost is $160 per person. Companies that bring 10 or more attendees pay $140 per employee. Brookings the fifth largest city in South Dakota and home to South Dakota State University, is a short drive, 58 miles north of Sioux Falls, S.D.

For out of state attendees to the ethanol workshop, travel connections can easily be made from several domestic airlines serving Sioux Falls Regional Airport offering non-stop flight service to a number of major U.S. airport hubs, which includes Chicago O'Hare, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, and Orlando Sanford International Airport, to name a few.

Course topics during the two day program will consist of critical training, which includes an outline of OSHA standards, environmental health controls, fire protection, grain handling and conveyor safety, electrical safety, and railroad and materials handling safety.

Course Presenters

Beth Malsom-Safety & HealthConsultant, Engineering Extension, SDSU.
Beth is OSHA trained in Electrical Safety, Machine Guarding, Industrial Hygiene and is an Authorized General Industry and Construction Outreach Trainer. She has a B.S. in Agricultural Systems Technology with an Environmental and Chemical emphasis from South Dakota State University.

James Manning-Program Director, EngineeringExtension, SDSU.
James is a Civil Engineer and an instructor in the Engineering Technology and Management Department at SDSU. He is an OSHA-authorized construction industry outreach trainer. He has an M.S. in Civil Engineering from South Dakota State University.

Mike Monnens-Safety & Health Consultant, Engineering Extension, SDSU.
Mike is OSHA trained in Electrical Safety, Machine Guarding, Industrial Hygiene, and other topics. Previous to joining Engineering, Mike was the program engineer with the University/Industry Technology Service at SDSU. He has a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering
and an M.S. in Engineering with an Agricultural Engineering emphasis, both from South Dakota State University.

Albert A. Patin-Industrial Hygienist, Engineering Extension, SDSU.
Albert is OSHA trained inProcess Safety Management, Industrial Hygiene, HAZWOPER, Hazardous Materials, Respiratory Protection, Hazard Communication, Noise, Electrical and Machine Guarding. He has a B.S. in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Microbiology and Industrial Hygiene/Chemistry from the University of Arizona.

Jon A. Puetz-Safety and Health Consultant, Engineering Extension, SDSU.
Jon is OSHA trained in Process Safety Management, Industrial Hygiene, HAZWOPER, Fall Protection, Construction Standards, Electrical Standards, Machine Guarding, Process Safety
Management and is an Authorized General Industry Outreach Trainer. He has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a MEd. in Curriculum and Instruction, both from South Dakota State University

Businesses can register employees for the course by contacting Engineering Extension at 605-688-4101 or by e-mailing Mary.Reeter@SDSTATE.EDU

Google Map Ethanol Plant Fires and Explosions

Thursday, January 1, 2009

200+ Combustible Dust Fires and Explosions in 2008

A new year is upon us. Will we learn from the past? Through media accounts, the Combustible Dust Policy Institute researched over 200+ combustible dust related fires and explosions that occurred in 2008 in the grain, manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and utility sectors. Good housekeeping is a partial solution in preventing and mitigating incidents, especially in regards to secondary explosions, but only one aspect of a multi-dimensional complex subject concerning combustible dust hazards.

For instance, utilizing good engineering practices (GEP) as outlined in the NFPA Combustible Dust Standards would assist in lessening the likelihood and reducing the severity of many incidents that occurred in 2008. Additionally, administrative controls such as hot work permits, inspection, maintenance, and employee/contractor training of combustible dust hazard awareness would proactively provide enhanced measures cost effectively.

The recent grain facility dust explosion in Arizona is a wake up call that dust explosions are prevalent across all sectors. Combustible dust related fires and explosions is an inherent throughout industry. It's only through mitigative and preventative measures that potential fatalities, injuries, and adverse impact will be lessened.

The Combustible Dust Policy Institute proposes an alternate solution addressing the entire spectrum of combustible particulate solids that generate combustible dust across all sectors. Instead of haphazardly piecing together costly regulations singling out individual occupational sectors. Legislators must be educated that all explosions transform energy into blast waves (overpressure), thermal radiation, and ensuing projectiles. It doesn't matter if its runaway reaction explosion, condensed phase explosion, vapor cloud explosion, or dust explosion.

NFPA 654, "Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids," has already provided a good start in considering a regulatory framework with mention of a process hazard analysis as already implemented at refineries with the OSHA process safety management (PSM) program. For instance. 29 CFR 1910.119 is intended to prevent or minimize the consequences of a catastrophic explosion from a process.

What about combustible dust explosions in other occupational sectors that are of high consequence like the catastrophic Imperial Sugar Refinery explosion earlier last year and now this past week the Arizona Grain explosion that sent three workers with burn injuries to the hospital ? Scientific data compiled from laboratory combustible dust testing has proven that the devastating blast waves and thermal radiation from dust explosions are just as devastating as a vapor cloud explosions.

The learning curve is now complete concerning the hazards of combustible dust in the workplace. All stakeholders must cohesively work together with local, state, and national governmental leaders in developing a comprehensive combustible dust occupational safety framework that ensures the safety of all workers in explosive high consequence occupations.

For additional information on identifying, evaluating, and controlling the hazards of combustible dust related fires and explosions, the Combustible Dust Policy Institute in conjunction with the 4th Annual Industrial Fire, Safety, and Security Conference -IFSS 2009 will be hosting a Two Day Combustible Dust Hazard Workshop at the Reliant Center(next to the Astrodome), February 3-4, 2009, in Houston Texas.

Concerned stakeholders will acquire important information during Day One of the workshop that can be utilized in preventing and mitigating future incidents in addition to understanding the necessary steps in achieving regulatory compliance concerning the OSHA Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program.

Currently a situational awareness is lacking nationwide that combustible dust also poses a potential explosive atmosphere in the same light as flammable gases, vapors, and mists. Instead of vapor cloud or BLEVE explosions that occur in the refining sector there are deflagrations and dust explosions in the manufacturing sector.

Day Two of the workshop will include fire-fighting suppression techniques, equipment, and training resources that are currently available. In addition to active participation through panel discussions, Fire Chiefs from around the nation that respond to combustible dust incidents will share successful fire-fighting tactics in combating combustible dust fires.

WHO ATTENDS IFSS Workshops and Seminars?

Attendees from across the United States converge at IFSS every year to meet with their peers - industrial emergency response and security leaders throughout the industrial and energy marketplace.




* Regulatory Agencies
* Emergency Management Departments
* LEPC's - Local Emergency Planning Committees
* Municipal Fire Districts - Mutual Aid


* Oil & Gas Exploration & Production
* Refineries
* Petrochemical/Chemical Facilities
* Pipelines
* Terminals/Storage Facilities
* Power Plants
* LNG Facilities
* Process Industries
* Transportation/Shipping/Rail
* Emergency Response Teams
* Industrial Fire Brigades
* Security

Preparing for Tomorrow’s Emergencies in Today’s World.

EH&S. Hazmat. Fire. Security. Rescue. Safety. Medical.
Whatever aspect of emergency management you work in, IFSS is the essential destination for staying ahead of the curve – and getting that edge that can make all the difference in your next situation.

IFSS delivers an unsurpassed learning experience!

* Learn about best practices for all types of incidents from industry leaders and technical experts.
* Get three days of answers to your most pressing questions.
* Discover the most innovative products and services at a one-of-a-kind exhibition.
* Hear about valuable “lessons learned” from true-life situations.
* Connect with your peers from around the country.

IFSS is only four days… but the value it provides will pay off all year-long. You will take-away intel, insights and info that will help you on an ongoing basis as you protect America's industrial plant facilities, personnel, energy infrastructure, and critical assets against all hazards.

IFSS 2009 Conference Contacts
Phone: (832) 242-1969
Fax: (832) 242-1971

# # #

The goal of Combustible Dust Policy Institute is to minimize the severity and reduce the occurrence of combustible dust related fires and explosions in the global workplace. Through ongoing exchange of best practices and lessons learned of combustible dust related incidents, which identifies and evaluates risk, the Institute shares risk assessment information that a diverse spectrum of members utilize in effectively controlling combustible dust hazards. Assisting stakeholders in this endeavor, health and safety compliance is effectively achieved in addition to reducing preventable workplace fatalities, injuries, and adverse economic impact. Contact John Astad, Chairperson :Combustible Dust Hazard Workshop@ 409-440-7185


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The information in is not meant to be a substitute for the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Federal Register, and other OSHA documents, which should serve as the primary source of regulatory guidance. The information on this site should not be used in place of appropriate technical or legal advice related to your company's specific circumstances. Combustible Dust Policy Institute tries to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site and its associated sites. Combustible Dust Policy Institute has no liability arising from or relating to the use, interpretation, or application of the information or its accuracy or inaccuracy. Copyright notice: All materials in this site are copyrighted by the Combustible Dust Policy Institute. No materials may be directly or indirectly published, posted to Internet and intranet distribution channels, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed in any medium without permission.