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Dangers of Combustible Dust Explosions


Those in the workplace often know of the dangers of slip and falls, repetition injuries, and inhaling toxic fumes. However, the danger of combustible dust explosions is not often discussed. Despite the lack of knowledge on combustible dust explosions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines its dangers.

Explosions that result from combustible dust are dangerous; so dangerous that it claimed the lives of over 100 people from 1980 to 2005. This proves that public knowledge of combustible dust is essential in preventing a risky explosion. Combustible dust consists of dust particles that, in certain conditions, become an explosion hazard. The dust is usually created when a combustible material is transported, cut, sifted, mixed, or crushed. Therefore, there are certain industries that are high-risk for a dust explosion.

There are multiple variables that need to be present for a dust explosion to happen. Besides the combustible material, there must also be an ignition, oxygen, dispersion, and a confined space. These are all essential, due to the nature of the explosions. They often include an accumulation of pressure in a confined space, ultimately leading to an explosion.

Which Materials are Considered Combustible?

Some combustible materials include:

  • Rubber
  • Pesticides
  • Wood
  • Sulfur
  • Coal
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Textiles
  • Egg whites
  • Flour
  • Grains
  • Powdered milk
  • Cornmeal

These combustible materials are often found in several different job fields, including:

  • Food production
  • Coal mines
  • Chemical manufacturers
  • Recycling organizations
  • Woodworking companies

These are only a few of the job fields that handle combustible materials. It is crucial that employees in these fields know the dangers of dust explosions and how to prevent them.

How to Prevent a Combustible Dust Explosion

In order to prevent a combustible dust explosion, there are a few important steps. The first step is knowledge; the entire team should know the dangers of combustible dust, especially if they handle combustible materials. Similarly, they should know what factors contribute to a dust explosion. This can help them stay cautious of factors, like an ignition.

Employees should also take advantage of protective clothing, which includes protective clothing, eye wear, and even respirators. Another tip is to ensure that employees have the tools to prevent a dust explosion. These tools might include dust removal technology. It is important that employers perform regular checks of the property. This ensures that there are no hazards that might contribute to a combustible dust explosion. Some things to look for in an inspection is the electrical and heating system.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP Advocate for Employees Facing Illnesses from Dust Explosions

If you or a loved one faced a work-related injury or illness due to combustible dust, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Gross & Kenny, LLP. Our lawyers work closely with clients to maximize damages for economic and non-economic losses. Contact us online or call us at 267-589-0090 for a free consultation. With an office located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.