The Hazards of Grain Dust Accumulation

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One of the significant aspects of the world economy is the grain trade. Grains make up a large portion of the world’s food supply, and there are many facilities devoted to grain handling. Within these grain facilities there are numerous occupational hazards that could be potentially dangerous to employees if they are not addressed.

Hazards Related to Grain Handling:

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have identified six main hazards related to grain handling. Of these, accumulation of combustible grain dust happens to be one of the most difficult to manage. The reason for this is because grain dust is fine, and due to this there are often no overt physical indicators of its accumulation. Also grain silo owners have a hard time quantifying the volume of dust that can prove to be adequate to create an explosion.

There are five factors that come together for an explosion:

1. Sufficient quantity of combustible grain dust dispersed in the air
2. The presence of an oxidant like oxygen to support the combustion
3. The agitation of the accumulated grain dust
4. An ignition source
5. Containment

Grain dust combustion causes secondary explosions. This means they are hard to predict and control. Often silos are demolished because of rogue explosions and the workers in the elevators and bins become casualties of the accident. In typical grain dust explosions the friction between moving parts of belts, conveyors and augers supplies the needed spark or ignition source.

How to Prevent Grain Dust Explosions?

From the grain dust explosion criteria it is easy to see that the actual production of combustible dust can’t be affected. It is a byproduct of grain handling. The source of ignition (or the moving parts) can’t be removed from the equation either. Thus it is important to take steps to eliminate the accumulation and confinement of the combustible dust particles through dust collection mechanisms and proper ventilation of bins. Employee training and education is also important to make sure all workers are aware of the hazards, and to ensure they don’t enter a bin or silo without the required safety equipment.

At Flexaust we have manufactured long lasting, flexible hose and ducting products for industrial and commercial applications for 75 years. Our products include hoses specifically designed for grain vac use, and ventilation systems. Safety is very important and Flexaust products are used around the world to help maintain clean air and cleanup industrial dust. Contact us to find out how we can provide the products to assist your grain dust accumulation needs.