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Laboratory testing to quantify explosion hazards for vapor and gas mixtures

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Design emergency pressure relief systems to mitigate the consequences of unwanted chemical reactivity and account for two-phase flow using the right tools and methods

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Properly size pressure relief vents to protect your processes from dust, vapor, and gas explosions

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Pressure relief sizing is just the first step and it is critical to safety handle the effluent discharge from an overpressure event

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Classification of hazardous materials subject to shipping and storage regulations

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Develop critical safety data for inclusion in SDS documents

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Model transport of airborne virus aerosols to guide safe operations and ventilation upgrades

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Model transport of contamination for source term and leak path factor analysis

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Model transport of heat and smoke for fire analysis

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transport of flammable or toxic gas during a process upset

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Onsite safety studies can help identify explosibility and chemical reaction hazards so that appropriate testing, simulations, or calculations are identified to support safe scale up

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Testing to support safe design of batteries and electrical power backup facilities particularly to satisfy UL9540a ed.4

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Safety analysis for packaging, transport, and storage of spent nuclear fuel

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Testing and analysis to ensure that critical equipment will operate under adverse environmental conditions

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Testing and modeling services to support resolution of emergent safety issues at a power plant

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Low thermal inertial adiabatic calorimeters specially designed to provide directly scalable data that are critical to safe process design

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Products and equipment for the process safety or process development laboratory

FERST

Software for emergency relief system design to ensure safe processing of reactive chemicals, including consideration of two-phase flow and runaway chemical reactions

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Facility modeling software mechanistically tracks transport of heat, gasses, vapors, and aerosols for safety analysis of multi-room facilities

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Recent Posts

How Process Hazards Analysis Helps Guide Testing (Explosive Hazards)

Posted by The Fauske Team on 04.30.14

dust on equipment photo

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and Industrial Hygiene (IH) professionals are familiar with the need for environmental testing when it comes to dust.  However, what is not clear is whether the tests and controls put in place for good hygiene address the explosive hazards associated with the dust.  Where do they start?  Are the tests similar? If a dust is declared safe to breathe in measureable amounts, does that mean it is not explosible?  How can someone determine if they have a risk? This post explores how the common requirements for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s hygiene controls for respirable dust and total dust content relate (or don’t) to combustible dust testing.  We conclude by showing how a Process Hazards Analysis (PHA) is an important tool for managing and handling both questions comprehensively.

First, let's look at hygiene regulations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 0500.  This standard addresses “nuisance dusts; particulates not otherwise regulated/classified TOTAL DUST.  Likewise,  NIOSH 0600 addresses “nuisance dusts; particulates not otherwise regulated/classified, RESPIRABLE DUST.” 

A customer recently asked whether their facility was operating within a safe range.  This question came up because they had tested their dust per the NIOSH hygiene 0600 respirable dust regulation and found that the dust in the facility had a concentration of 90mg per m³.  They then compared this measurement from their facility with the Minimum Explosible Concentration (or MEC) of the dust.  The MEC tells what the smallest concentration of dust is that can post an explosion risk.  The MEC showed that the MEC for the dust in question was 90-100 g/m3.  The test data gives two conclusions.

One, the 90 mg/m3 is much greater than the 5 mg/m³ quantity required by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).  This indicates that there are concerns that need to be addressed from a hygiene perspective.

Second, from an explosivity standpoint – the MEC test reveals that the client is operating at a level that is safely below the MEC.  However, how can the client be sure that this is sufficient?  A recognized method to determine what safe handling and processing requirements are for the dust (and to see what other testing may be required), is to conduct a process hazards analysis (PHA).

A PHA is a systematic evaluation of the hazards involved in the process. Per OSHA, a PHA is required any time a new process is initiated in a facility, and  should be conducted on existing processes at least once every five years after that.  PHA’s are important because they systematically address normal operating conditions as well as start-up, routine cleaning, normal shut down and emergency shutdown procedures.  Understanding these conditions is essential for determining what safe operating conditions should be, and are helpful in determining what combuistible dust tests are needed to provide the data to safely design those conditions and protect equipment.  The PHA team should be multi-disciplinary, including operations, engineering and maintenance.  To properly conduct a PHA, the process safety information (PSI) must be as complete as possible including dust explosibility characteristics of the material as well as the equipment handling the dust.  

Safety testing and engineering firms such as Fauske & Associates, LLC (FAI) provide PHA services including for compliance to OSHA PSM requirements as well as combustible dust related PHAs for compliance per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines: NFPA 654, NFPA 664 and NFPA 484. FAI facilitators serve as subject matter experts for reactive chemical hazards as well as combustible dust to identify risk reduction strategies appropriate for the hazards identified.

Tests required for thorough assessment of combustible dusts are part of the all-important PHA. A PHA in this customer's case required a Kst (Explosion Severity Test), MIE (Minimum Ignition Energy Test), MEC, and MIT (Minimum Autoignition Temperature of a Dust Cloud Test) to quantify the explosibility rates and conditions of this combustible dust.  

A PHA should be part of a facility's risk management plan to identify hazards that could lead to a fire, explosion or toxic release.  So, be sure to look for a testing lab that responds to rapidly growing safety needs in the chemical and industrial industries by offering a complete range of Risk Management Services including Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Hazard EvaluationProcess Hazard Analysis (PHA)Hazard Identification Risk Analysis,Consequence AnalysisSafer Process Scale-upProcess Safety Program Development, Fire Protection Engineering, and Relief System Design Review.

For more information regarding process safety management (PSM), process hazard analysis (PHA) and evaluation, risk management services or combustible dust testing questions or needs, contact Jeff Griffin at griffin@fauske.com or 630-887-5278. www.fauske.com.

 Common Questions Regarding Dust Sample  Collection, Preparation, and Testing

Topics: Combustible dust, explosive dust, flammable dust, dust hazard, kst, explosion severity test, go no go, explosibility test, MIT test, Minimum ignition temperature test, NFPA 654, Flammability hazard, combustible hazard, OSHA, NFPA 652, NFPA 68, NFPA 69, hazard identification, PSM, go/nogo, dust test, process safety, process hazards analysis, vent sizing, combustible vapor, explosion prevention, explosion protection, process hazards, MIE test, hazards analysis, PHA, MOC, relief system design, testing

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