Combustible dust tragedies could be prevented through laboratory testing
Vol. 27 Spring 2012
Just over nine years ago, an explosion and fire killed seven workers and injured 37 at an acoustics manufacturing plant in Corbin, Kentucky. Due to the catastrophic nature of this incident, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) conducted an investigation to determine the root and contributing causes to be able to make recommendations to prevent similar occurrences.
The CSB’s investigation report found that combustible phenolic resin dust had accumulated throughout the facility that fueled the explosion. This issue, among other important findings, were detailed in the extensive report.
Since that time, the CSB has been pushing for a comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard to prevent future dust explosions. In 2009, OSHA agreed to develop a dust standard, but the standard has yet to be fully developed. As time continues to pass without a strong standard, deaths and injuries due to combustible dust explosions continue each year in the United States.
Working to prevent these tragedies is EMSL Analytical, Inc. The environmental laboratory, with headquarters in New Jersey, has developed a world renowned combustible dust testing program. EMSL Analytical offers testing solutions for OSHA’s compliance directive for combustible dusts. The Core Combustible Dust Module includes the following tests: percent through 40 mesh, percent moisture content, percent combustible material, percent combustible dust and sample weight.
Additional testing also available includes:
- Resistivity (metal dusts)
- Minimum explosive concentration (MEC)
- Minimum ignition energy (MIE)
- Class II Test
- Maximum normalized rate of pressure rise [(dP/dt) – Kst] Test
- Minimum ignition temperature
“OSHA already acknowledges that any combustible material, and some materials normally considered noncombustible, can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form,” reported Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “According to their website it states that if such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, it can become explosive. The force from these explosions can cause deaths, injuries, and destruction of entire buildings. Combustible dust explosions have killed scores of employees and injured hundreds over the past few decades. New standards will help reduce these tragedies,” he continued.
To learn more about combustible dust testing services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800)220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.