Dust Collection 101

Posted: December 15, 2015

Disasters caused by hazardous dust such as explosions, fires and loss of life have resulted in organizations taking serious safety prevention measures. But what is dust collection and combustible dust? How does it impact the industrial industry? How can companies protect their employees?

Dust collection, or pneumatic conveying, is the process of utilizing high velocity exhaust air and a specialized duct system to transport dust and solid materials away from processes or equipment that generate dust.

Airborne dust or fugitive dust that collects on the interior of factories, mills or process equipment can constitute hazards such as a deflagration (fireball), explosions, respiration or breathing issues, carcinogen, industrial hygiene, process contamination, or may simply be a nuisance that increases labour costs to clean up and dispose of. In many cases, if dust is generated in significant quantities, the dust constitutes more than one hazard and therefore poses a risk to workers, the building structure, the employer and the insurer and can result in lost production time, partial or complete business interruption, an increase in worker disability claims, insurance claims, injuries, severe burns and loss of life.

There are many types of hazardous dust including wood, coal, food products, tissue, magnesium, aluminum, plastics and fiberglass – these dust types all pose significant health and safety hazards. Building owners should retain an independent Subject Matter Expert (SME) to complete a dust hazard assessment and optionally an air quality assessment. A SME is typically defined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction or AHJ (Fire Commissioner, Building Inspector etc.) as a third party independent Engineering Consultant that has specific training and experience in dust collection & mitigation. Typically the supplier that sold or installed the dust collector or duct-work and the factory’s own employees are not considered independent. After the factory or process is assessed, a mitigation and compliance plan is developed.

Many jurisdictions have, or soon will be adopting, legislation that requires an employer with equipment or processes that generate dust, or an existing dust collection system, to retain an SME. It is important that the employer recognizes their legal responsibility to retain experts that assist in developing a mitigation plan in order to minimize the risk of dust hazards. The first step is a site inspection and hazard assessment by an SME.

Disasters such as factory explosions, dust collector explosions, fires and loss of life have focused government, the AHJ, organized labour, and worker advocacy groups on the requirement to develop dust safety and mitigation plans as well as review factory process ventilation, dust collection systems and a comprehensive review of airborne dust and industrial hygiene.

Williams Engineering Canada can assist clients by providing a full inspection and hazard assessment of the job site. In addition, laboratory services can be provided to determine the properties of the dust. We can also provide full site airflow and velocity testing of the dust collection system in order to ensure that minimum standards are met, and act as the Owner’s technical and compliance adviser for new or retrofit projects. After a gap analysis and mitigation plan are developed, we can assist by providing detailed design services as well as annual compliance inspections that are recognized by the AHJ and worker advocacy/safety groups.

We are committed to providing exceptional services to our clients by establishing effective communication throughout the duration of any project and bringing depth, innovation, sophistication, and engagement to all of our projects.

Do you have more questions regarding dust collection?
Contact us at 778.484.3900 and we’d be happy to help!
Click here to read our Combustible Dust Services brochure.



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