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printech, September, 2003
Combustible Dust

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From: Gary Jones (gjonesprinting@aol.com )
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 09:01:53

1. From ISHN E-NEWS, Vol. 2, No. 28, Friday, September 19, 2003

2. Dust is a common by product of printing and it is important to understand that under certain circumstances it can be explosive. Always remember that when you are going to clean up dust, that you vacuum and not blow it off equipment with compressed air.



After investigating two fatal explosions earlier this year in manufacturing plants, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has concluded: The dangers of explosive dust are not well known, and helping industry to understand this hazard is a priority.

Lax maintenance and housekeeping, along with employee ignorance of dust hazards, contributed to warning signs being missed.

In January, a West Pharmaceuticals plant in North Carolina exploded, killing six people, and resulting in 86 safety violations. Investigators concluded that a dust explosion occurred above an area where rubber strips were coated with moistened polyethylene powder.

Weeks prior to the explosion, maintenance workers had seen layers of dust coating surfaces above a suspended ceiling, according to the report. "Tragically, there was no recognition of the explosion hazard posed by this accumulated dust," said one investigator.

"We never had any training. We were never told that the dust could explode," one employee said.

In February, an explosion fatally injured seven workers at the CTA Acoustics plant in Corbin, Ky. Investigators said the blast was likely caused by a fire in a malfunctioning production line oven that ignited flammable dust particles.

Maintenance had been scheduled for the production line but the repairs had been delayed in the days before the blast, according the investigation.

Less serious explosions linked to combustible dust have occurred in California, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Chemical Safety Board officials worry that flammable dust in factories represents the same kind of danger that was identified two decades ago in grain elevators. Stringent safety standards were adopted in the wake of deadly explosions linked to combustible dust in the silos.

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