Providing a safe work environment is a top priority of any industrial dust extraction system. Integral to the extraction process is an effective dust collection system. Industrial dust collectors are used to extract airborne dust, hazardous particulates, and harmful fumes from production environments. Dust collection provides clean air in the workplace, assures the health and safety of employees, and protects machines and equipment used in production. To ensure safety, dust collection systems must be maintained and fitted with the necessary equipment. Here are 6 important ways to keep your dust collector operating as safely and efficiently as possible:
Equip with Deflagration Vents
Combustible dust is a common byproduct in many industrial production environments. Accumulation can easily lead to deflagration, flash fires, or dangerous explosions. To save lives, prevent injuries, and minimize damage, dust collectors should be equipped with deflagration vents for protection from explosions. Once airborne, dust from dry material production processes—sifting, mixing, cutting, grinding, sanding, and so on—can pose a serious hazard and risk to employees, personnel, and visitors, but also loss of property—equipment and machinery, and even the facility itself.
Any dust collector handling combustible dust must have deflagration protection. Deflagration vents are a cost-effective, passive method designed to redirect the force and path of a fire or explosion away from the work environment. When predetermined pressure levels are reached within a dust collector, vents open to allow passage of the initial wave of flame and excessive pressure, directing it to a safe area, reducing and limiting the danger, hazards, and damage that could otherwise occur.
Regularly Scheduled Filter Maintenance
Dust collector filters should be changed or cleaned at the manufacturer’s suggested intervals. Changing or cleaning the filter media when scheduled is preventive maintenance that can reduce the risk of fire, and also may help prolong the lifespan of the dust collector. Filters need to be serviced when airflow through the dust extraction system reaches a differential pressure limit or when there is a noticeable pressure drop that negatively affects the capability of the dust collector to actually capture the dust or fumes within the facility. The heavier the dust load of a facility, the more frequent filter servicing is recommended. In addition to regular filter maintenance, maintenance should also be performed on other dust collector components such as solenoid valves, diaphragm valves, tubing, gaskets, and other items.
Protect Ductwork with Dampers and Isolation Valves
Protecting ductwork can help contain a dust collector fire from spreading to work areas. As a preventive measure, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends having flow-activated dampers and isolation valves installed within the ductwork to prevent the release of smoke and fire into work environments. Flow-activated isolation valves are designed to close and prevent further passage of flame and smoke upstream if a deflagration pressure wave occurs within a dust collector.
Keep Dust Hoppers Clean
A dust collector’s hopper is not a storage bin for the dust collected from a plant or facility. A hopper is essential for dust collection, but it is not an endpoint. Too much dust is ample fuel—period. If it accumulates in a hopper it is just as much a risk for combustion as it is anywhere in the facility. Overflowing dust hoppers can clog systems, too, greatly reducing a dust collector’s effectiveness. As a safety measure, hoppers need to be monitored continuously or have a self-dumping hopper installed for easy dust disposal.
Have Safety Accessories Where Needed
Installing safety accessories to dust collectors can help prevent injury to employees and serve to remain OSHA-compliant. During maintenance and regularly scheduled service of a dust collector, having caged ladders and railed safety platforms for workers can prevent slip and fall accidents from occurring. when workers access the collector for service. Having lockout, tagout (LOTO) doors where needed can prevent serious or fatal injury if doors are opened inadvertently during a pulsing cycle of being exposed to hazardous and toxic dust. In regard to the latter, there should be a bag-in/bag-out (BIBO) containment system in place to isolate workers during the change-out of hazardous filters.
Identify and Eliminate Ignition Sources
Combustible fires occur, obviously, as a result of some type of ignition. Identify and eliminate any potential ignition sources—a spark from a grinder or an ember from a welding station—by locating such essential manufacturing processes like metal cutting, grinding, and welding that could lead to a fire or explosion away from the dust collector.
To learn more about the safety benefits of an industrial dust extraction system, please contact us at CPE Filters today.