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Why should you test your dusts for explosive properties?

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Keeping your people safe should be the number one priority at any business, yet often the most apparently insignificant of things can be the most insidious. Dust explosions are one such problem, having been the root cause of a number of incidents causing fatalities and injuries across the years. Whilst this alone should be enough to make everyone assess their procedures for dealing with dust, we still observe gaps in understanding and resulting deficient precautions. If preservation of life and aiming for zero harm to our colleagues is not sufficiently compelling, here are a few other factors which should provide encouragement to understand the properties of your specific dusts.

  1. Variables – Often, data from read-across literature is inappropriate due to the impact of a wide range of variables on the dust explosion properties of a material.

  2. Parameters – Parameter requirements are not (currently) prescriptive for process safety purposes, but they must underpin the basis of safety for the specific process. Knowing which properties to measure – and then using the data appropriately – is key to good process safety performance.

  3. Duty of Care – Distributors of powdered, dust explosive, products must provide adequate information to their customers so they can handle the material safely and free from potential for harm (whilst also ensuring their own staff stay safe).

  4. Regulatory Requirements – Under ATEX/DSEAR, you must be able to demonstrate that you have a safe system of work, which inevitably requires specific data on the products you handle - aligned with the prevention / protection mechanisms you employ.

  5. New Regulation – Critically, there are new regulations imminently to be launched that could make dust explosion parameters a regulatory requirement. This has already been embedded in the Biocidal Products Directive (BPD) and is being considered for the GHS classification system (likely early 2019).

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons why you should know the dust explosion properties of your powders. Explosions create reputational damage, production interruption, regulatory intervention, fines / compensation and business value impairment. DEKRA Process Safety has over 30 years experience in the field of hazards resulting from powders, partnering with many of the worlds most recognisable companies to ensure excellence in process safety performance. If you would like to learn more about dust explosion hazards, or if you would like to discuss a specific concern, please get in touch.