Combustible dust hazards are common in industry and gained additional exposure due to the OSHA Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) which was re-issued as a result of the fatal accident at Imperial Sugar. Dust management testing labs offer a wide range of services related to Dust Hazards Analysis (DHA) characterizing, preventing and mitigating combustible dust explosion and fire hazards. These services include combustible dust testing, onsite assessments, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) compliance assistance, audit preparation, training, ignition source evaluation and vent sizing calculations.
"NFPA 652 requires a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) if you handle
Seek process safety professionals who have served clients in a variety of industries including metal processing, wood/paper products, agriculture, food products, textiles, plastics, pharmaceuticals and many others. When developing mitigation strategies for potentially hazardous, explosive or combustible dusts, it is important to characterize the hazard risk of the material in question by determining its explosion severity and ignition sensitivity. Explosion severity data will determine if an explosion hazard exists and, if so, how energetic it may be while ignition sensitivity data will assess the probability of risk based on how the material responds to heat, spark, impact and frictional forces.
Seek a testing lab that offers the following NFPA, OSHA and NEP Combustible Dust Hazard Assessment (DHA) testing and services for determination of both explosion severity and ignition sensitivity per ASTM and European EN methods:
Explosion Severity Test - (KSt ,PMax and dP/dtMax)
Minimum Ignition Energy - (MIE)
Minimum Explosible Concentration - (MEC)
Minimum Autoignition Temperature of a Dust Cloud - (MIT)
Hot Surface Ignition Temperature of Dust Layers - (LIT)
Limiting Oxygen Concentration - (LOC)
Testing should be completed on-site in a state of the art dust testing facility per ISO 17025 guidelines.
In order to "screen" for the possibility of dust explosibility in your facility, we perform a Go/No-Go Screening Test. Based on ASTM E1226, "Standard Test Method for Explosibility of Dust Clouds", this test is an abbreviated set explosion severity method with three dust concentrations to determine if the sample is explosible. This test is generally performed with samples tested "as received" or sieved with a 40 mesh (420μm) screen and using one 5-kJ chemical igniter as the ignition source. [>100 grams (~¼ lb) of sample less than 420μm required]
In a previous post: "How To Collect and Ship Combustible Dust Samples For Testing", we discussed the simple steps for getting your samples to a lab for testing. See below for our chart that discusses the outcomes for your dust tested. If your test sample is a "Yes, it explodes" then further tests can be run to determine how quickly and how severe the explosion will be (KSt/Pmax Test), followed by testing what concentration of dust in the air will cause a risk of explosion (MEC Test). Next, another test can determine if a spark will cause an explosion (MIE) test.
But, what if your Go/No-Go test result is a "no"? Well, we next look at what temperature it will take make your dust layer ignite. To find the Minimum Autoignition Temperature (MIT) of a dust cloud in the air, the MIT tests the minimum temperature that would cause your dust cloud to ignite. Next, is the LIT Test, which determines the hot-surface ignition temperature of dust layer. Finally, a Burn Rate test is conducted to determine how quickly the dust material will burn.
All of these tests start with the Go/No-Go Test. A comprehensive DHA or Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) can apply your test results to real world scenarios at your facility. Better to know what you are dealing with so you can plan safely! In addition, if you have a dust collector and aren't sure what to do next, read: "Combustible Dust Made Easy".
Here are some other tests run for dust explosibility screening:
Furthermore, please note that per ASTM recommendations (and some NPFA requirements); samples should be tested at a particle size less than 75 μm and less than 5% moisture. Please note that testing materials in a method not complying with the ASTM/EU recommendations may produce explosion severity and explosion sensitivity data that is not considered conservative enough for explosion mitigation design.
Combustible dust experts can visit your facility to evaluate your receiving, storage, use, processing and disposal of all “powder” materials. They will evaluate existing dust management programs, handling practices, equipment, fire/explosion suppression systems, warning devices and onsite extinguishing capabilities. Possibilities for fugitive dust control will also be identified where appropriate. A testing lab and its experts can provide the following onsite services:
NFPA and OSHA NEP Combustible Dust Compliance
Train your staff in the understanding of technical issues, process safety programs or audits, regulations and more. A comphrehensive perform process safety audits as part of a comprehensive hazards analysis and can work with you to make sure your staff is supplied with skills training needs in many ways including:
Level I - Gap Analysis
Level II - Training & Consulting
Level III - Program Development and Implementation
Partial List of Services You Should Seek:
• Reviews and upgrades of all your safety process systems and regulatory requirements
• VPP Consulting
• Audits, reviews, and upgrades of all your Operating, Safety, and Maintenance Procedures
• Training program evaluations for both completeness and effectiveness (from technical skills to professional development) and upgrades where needed
• Reviews and upgrades of your program elements such as Employee Participation and Process Safety Information for effectiveness and completeness
• Work process effectiveness evaluations and upgrades
• Overall organizational development (e.g., motivation, work processes)
• Stress reduction
• Evaluations of the effectiveness of communication
A full service testing lab will design, custom develop and deliver any site specific training materials needed by your organization. Consultants, Engineers and Technical Specialists should be available to deliver the classroom, lab or on-the-job training your staff needs. In addition, provide assistance with the identification and procurement of commercially available training materials where available.