When listing volatile explosives, very few people consider dust to be an explosion hazard. However, airborne particulates from organic and metal materials have the potential to cause devastating explosions. Industrial plants that handle food, tobacco, textiles, pesticides, and fossil fuels are just a few of the locations where dust explosions have been known to happen.
What Causes Dust Explosions?
Dust explosions occur when three critical components combine. When the perfect combination of dust and oxygen meets an ignition source, a devastating explosion will occur. As dust particles float through the air of industrial sites, they sometimes form a dense enough concentration to become explosive. Legislators and regulators have created numerous laws through the years that put strict requirements on companies to protect workers from dust explosions.
Notable Dust Explosions
There have been a few notable dust explosions in recent years. In 2008, an Imperial Sugar refinery exploded in Port Wentworth, Georgia. The blast claimed the lives of 14 people and injured 36 more. Investigators determined that sugar dust caused the explosion. It is believed that the refinery’s outdated construction allowed an unsafe accumulation of sugar dust in the air. This incident caused OSHA to develop new standards for testing for combustible dust. The Imperial refinery explosion was the worst in the nation’s history.
In 2014, a Georgia-Pacific plywood plant exploded when particulates violently ignited. The incident killed two workers and injured four others. Arnold & Itkin’s dust explosion attorneys were able to build a strong case for our client who was injured in the blast. Our lawyers showed the Georgia-Pacific failed to provide a functioning dust collection system, winning a massive verdict on his behalf.
How to Prevent Dust Explosions
Dust explosions place thousands of industrial workers at risk each year. OSHA has developed a set of recommendations that employers should follow to protect their employees. Dust explosions are always preventable, and employers must take every step to ensure that they do not happen.
Ways to prevent dust explosions include:
- Dust hazard inspections
- Dust collection systems
- Controlled ignition sources
- Regular and safe cleaning
- Notify employees
- Worker education
If you have been injured in a dust explosion at work, contact the industrial accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin today. We have won billions for clients offer free consultations at (888) 493-1629.