26 dust explosions and 94 dust fires were logged globally during the first half of 2020, according to a report released this week by combustible dust research organization Dust Safety Science. The incidents during the period resulted in 4 deaths and 30 injuries.
The 2020 Mid-Year Combustible Dust Incident Report provides data on the number of incidents recorded from January to June this year and summaries of the materials, industries, causes, and loss involved in the fires and explosions.
"It is too early to tell, but we are seeing some trends in the incident reporting that might be fallout from the global pandemic. First, the number of dust explosions in the United States is down 30% of what we have typically seen in the first half of the year over the last five years. Secondly, dust collector fires also appear to be down significantly across the globe." said Chris Cloney, the organization’s founder.
Dr. Cloney has been active in documenting and analyzing combustible dust fire and explosion incidents since 2016. Dust Safety Science is leading one of the first comprehensive efforts to collect data on dust-related fires and explosions. The organization issues annual and semi-annual reports on incidents, publishes a weekly newsletter, and provides a directory of companies offering prevention and protection solutions.
“Past history has shown that devastating loss incidents often occur during start-up, abnormal working conditions, or with reduced facility crew. We will have to be very vigilant to avoid these incidents in the months ahead.” Chris said when asked if he expects the number of incidents will increase as industries start back up.
Some interesting findings from the newly-released data include:
- Dust collection equipment was involved in 13% of dust explosions and fires recorded during the period.
- Wood products were involved in 31% percent of recorded incidents. Food products played a role in 41% of fires and explosions in the first half of this year.
- Nearly a third (43%) of logged incidents occurred in agriculture-related facilities.