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Identifying Combustible Dust Hazards at Powder Show

Steve Luzik has been to many facilities throughout the years where he has been in the presence of combustible dusts – and those facilities are often aware they need to mitigate the dust or a potentially hazardous dust explosion could occur.

However, there are instances where Luzik, senior process safety specialist with Chilworth Technology Inc., encounters facilities that are unaware of the nature of the material they are dealing with.

At a recent facility visit in the Southwest, Luzik said he encountered a facility where combustible dust was everywhere, although the facility manager swore the dust was not combustible.

“It can get that crazy,” Luzik said. “I’m looking around and I see this dust everywhere.”

Luzik will address combustible dust mitigation strategies and more next week at the Powder & Bulk Solids Conference at Powder & Bulk Solids Canada at the Toronto Congress Centre in Toronto, Canada.

Luzik will speak for the first hour on June 18 on Identifying Combustible Dust Hazards and Dust Hazard Mitigation Strategies. His one-hour session will focus on such topics as the conditions necessary to have combustible dust explosions and fires, what you can do to remove one or more of those conditions, and how to protect your equipment in the event that a dust explosion occurs, either through explosion protection equipment or strategies.

Luzik has more than 40 years’ experience in working with fire and explosion hazards, including combustible dusts. He has worked for nine years with Chilworth and before that, he spent more than 35 years with the Mine Safety and Health Administration. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Pennsylvania and a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) with the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI).

Listen to Steve Luzik discuss combustible dust hazards and mitigation strategies at Powder Show Canada June 18, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.

Luzik’s conference session can only scrape the surface of what is needed to learn about combustible dust, since a more thorough explanation would take a day, he said.

In his years on the job, Luzik said that he has seen many times where companies have come close to having a significant combustible dust incident.

“We have scores and scores of what we call ‘near misses’” Luzik said. “It’s only in the few instances when people make national news.”

Good housekeeping can help prevent the secondary dust explosions that occur after an initial combustible dust explosion, but it’s more important to prevent the initial explosion from occurring, Luzik said. Improper equipment or an incorrect process may spur the first explosion, he said.

For a good starting point to prevent incidents, companies should follow the NFPA standards 61, 484, 654, 655, and 664 to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to be aware of combustible dust hazards, he said.

Joe Florkowski is managing editor for Powder & Bulk Solids. He can be reached at [email protected]

For related articles, news, and equipment reviews, visit our Explosion Protection & Safety Equipment Zone

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