NFPA 652 Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust specifically states that the owner/operator is responsible for characterizing the combustible materials in their facility, identifying combustible dust hazards associated with those materials, mitigating identified hazards, and communicating these hazards to the workforce. Though NFPA is not an enforcement body, many bodies enforce NFPA standards, including: OSHA, fire marshals, building inspectors, and insurance underwriters. Therefore, compliance with NFPA not only makes sense from a safety standpoint - it is expected by these governing bodies.
Characterization of your materials is the first step in determining if you have combustible dust onsite. This can be accomplished by creating an inventory of your powdered materials and identifying which are combustible and which are not. A literature search of your materials can be used to identify known combustibles. However, your most concrete evidence of combustible versus non-combustible will be generated through laboratory experiments conducted on representative samples of your materials.
A Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA), per NFPA 652, can be performed to identify the combustible dust hazards that are present in your facility. A DHA is a documented, systematic evaluation of each piece of equipment and building that handles or contains combustible dust to identify if explosion, flash fire, or fire hazards exist. A proper DHA will review current administrative and engineering controls that are used to manage these hazards and offer recommendations where additional measures are needed to mitigate unsafe conditions.
Communication of these hazards can be accomplished through safety training with specific modules relating to combustible dust to all employees and contractors. Job specific training should also be provided to inform employees and contractors on the combustible dust hazards associated with their work environment.
SPEC Engineering is a full-service process engineering firm and can assist with the identification, characterization, and mitigation of combustible dust hazards in your facility. For more information on our DHA or other combustible dust services, please contact Zachary Hachmeister, DHA Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.