March 21, 2017

21/03/2017: Minimising the risk of explosions

by Steve Whiting, Spinaclean

The causes of explosions and the recommended ‘safe’ cleaning method equipment that does not do the job

ATEX is an acronym for “Atmospheres Explosive”.

Explosive atmospheres can be caused by flammable gases, mists, vapours or by combustible dusts. If there is enough of the substance, mixed with air, then all it needs is a source of ignition to cause an explosion.

Handling, processing, milling and the movement of grain, feed, rice and cotton is becoming less hazardous each year as businesses become more focused on keeping safety first on the agenda – but that is no reason to be complacent.

According to the trade body The National Association of British and Irish Millers (NABIM), there has fortunately not been a serious explosion in milling for several years – but that’s not a total elimination of the chance of small or even large explosions occurring tomorrow.

The fact that flour and other wheat products such as gluten, when dispersed in air, are capable in some circumstances of giving rise to a dust explosion has been known for a great number of years.

In the UK, NABIM has always been well aware of this hazard and has, since the 1960s, produced several guidance documents on the prevention of fire and dust. NABIM has commissioned research into the explosive characteristics of flour dust, providing essential information for safety officers and mill engineers.

There is always the potential for an explosive situation to arise so mill owners and safety officers must continue to work hard to minimise the risk. First explosions usually happen in the machines when there is a build-up of pressure and ignition is created by friction.

This fills the air with potentially explosive dust magnifying the hazard many times, and then all it needs is just one spark. Preventing a source of ignition is the best way to reduce the risk.

Using the correctly tested conductive equipment can greatly help to achieve this; failure to do so is not an option.

Read the full article HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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