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Q&A: 3 Steps to Combustible Dust Compliance in Manufacturing

Posted on November 15, 2019

Last month we hosted a webinar with OH&S, “3 Steps to Combustible Dust Compliance in Manufacturing” to address combustible dust risks and the necessary actions to be taken in order to avoid them. With the approaching September 2020 deadline to comply with NFPA 652 requirements, it’s important to understand what needs to be done to protect your facility and employees.

If you missed out, you can view the on-demand version of the webinar, here

In addition, we’ve compiled a list of questions asked during the live session that will hopefully help answer some of your questions. 

Is there a list of materials/ingredients that typically generate combustible dust?
Yes. This information can be found on OSHA’s website and contains a very detailed list of products that are considered combustible.

How do you dispose of combustible dust?
It is best to first check with local regulations or compliance methods when handling dangerous or potentially combustible dusts. The best place to go would be to your AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) and have them cite the applicable laws and standards required for your specific dust handling and disposal.

What’s the best way to collect dust build-up on overhead HVAC and pipes? And how often should these areas be inspected?
The best way to collect dust build-up on overhead surfaces is to vacuum it. Using compressed air will simply cause a plume of dust, which could present a potential risk. You can select overhead accessories to best suit your facility and look to have an operator on a man lift or boom lift to reach those overhead spaces.

In regards to frequency, these areas should be inspected pretty regularly to avoid putting your facility at risk due to quick build-up of dusts.

Can shop-style vacuums be used to collect residual combustible dust after first removing as much dust as possible using mops and brooms?
When dealing with combustible dust specifically, shop-style vacuums are not designed to meet the requirements for safe collection. It’s important to select the appropriate equipment to avoid sparking and in-turn larger explosions.

Who does site assessments?
We do. At Nilfisk, our direct sales force can visit your facility to conduct a site assessment. This assessment will help determine what type of equipment is most recommended for the environment at hand based on application, material to be collected, facility size, etc. To get in contact with one of our sales representatives, click here.

Is a dust analysis required by OSHA?
Yes. The dust analysis is part of the NFPA 652 standard, which is part of the OSHA requirement.

Can you use published data as a basis to determine if your dust is combustible?
Published data is better than no data at all and is a great place to start, however conducting a specific dust test for your facility will best determine if you have combustible dust, especially if it’s a mixture of dusts, unique alloys or unique material combinations.

Do you have any information on dust collection system requirements?
The baseline requirements can be found in the NFPA standards. These requirements include bonding and grounding thoroughly throughout the piece of equipment, construction consisting of low-sparking metals, including the container, specifics in regards to the motor and filter, as well as the working air stream to ensure the dust does not kick back out into the working environment.

Can you just assume your dust is combustible or do you need to perform a dust analysis?
A dust hazard analysis must be completed regardless of assumption of combustible dust. This will ensure you have the best understanding of what you are handling and the potential risks for your facility and employees. This analysis will also help you organize the proper procedures to effectively collect and dispose of combustible dust.

We tested our wood dust and it was listed for a “weak explosion”, how bad can a weak explosion be?
Wood dust explosions and fires are amongst the most common, so don’t let the appearance of a lower Kst value lull you into the belief that a hazard doesn’t exist. Consult with your AHJ or a dust consultant for direction for your facility.

Does OSHA require explosion venting engineering?
NFPA typically only requires special explosive venting, valves, blast plates, etc. when the volume of the collection container exceeds 8 cubic ft. (about the size of a 55 gal drum) for most combustible and explosive dusts. Highly volatile substances may have lower thresholds – check with NFPA or you AHJ.

We hope you found this information useful! If you have specific questions or would like to speak to a Nilfisk sales expert, get in touch with us!