Many manufacturing facilities close for the summer months, which make maintenance and cleaning services easier to perform when the machinery is stopped and there are no employees to work around. However, your facility’s winter cleaning plan is just as important as your facility’s summer cleaning plan. Snow, ice and cold weather aren’t the only hazards that are present in winter months. In fact, according to the Chemical Safety Board, winter months create an increased risk of combustible dust fires and combustible dust explosions.
As an industrial facility, you produce a lot of dust, and after a while, that dust begins to accumulate on the surfaces of machinery, rafters and ceiling, ductwork and even the floor. The empty space of the building is full of oxidants such as oxygen, which provide fuel for a fire to burn. When the dust is disrupted from air movement in the building, exhaust from machinery, using compressed air, or even from smaller fires or explosions nearby it disperses into a dust cloud. Since the dust cloud is being contained by the walls of the building, an ignition source is created (usually from heat, or sparks) within reach of the cloud, which ignites and causes an explosion. Unfortunately, combustible dust cleaning services are regularly not a part of an industrial facility’s cleaning plan, because not enough people realize that the dust created from manufacturing can become an explosion hazard.
NFPA 654 defines combustible dust as “A combustible particulate solid that presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations, regardless of particle size or shape.”
This is why making sure that combustible dust removal is a part of your winter cleaning plan will help decrease the risk of a fire explosion. Not to mention, it will help keep the environment where your employees work clean and safe!