Raising awareness is key to prevention solutions. There are many solutions for facilities with combustible dust hazards. Engineering solutions include dust collection systems, which remove dust from the environment, and spark detection systems, which monitor ductwork for sparks so they can be extinguished. Bearing monitors are also a critical and primary engineering control – especially the bearings in elevator legs.
“Dust is controlled in various ways, through spraying soybean oil on grain as it is unloaded at the elevator to vacuum type equipment pulling dust off the grain stream. Both methods have been very effective in controlling dust. Equipment vendors have also helped, by developing grain handling equipment that is safe to use in proximity of potential grain dust by eliminating ignition sources. All in all, our industry has taken large strides towards improving our work environment, especially as it relates to mitigating the grain dust factor,” said Zelenka.
Administrative solutions include making a housekeeping schedule to reduce dust build-up. Using fans, brooms and compressed air to remove dust will actually cause greater risk.
“Despite the efforts of OSHA and regional associations, injuries at work, including the dust explosion variety, are almost always a collision of human factors with potentially dangerous physical conditions. It may be the intention of top management to maintain meticulous housekeeping so a dust explosion just can't happen. But delivering on those intentions can be surprisingly difficult. Real or perceived pressures to save time and money can sometimes get in the way of great safety results. And even more often, I find the people who supervise the front line workforce have never been trained on how to motivate workers to achieve excellence or to hold them accountable for conditions that aren't optimal. This isn't a skill set that most people have naturally. But it certainly is something that most people can learn, given the opportunity. Bottom line to me is that the engineering side of the equation is improving faster than the human factors side. More effort around leadership, motivation and accountability is needed to really make big improvements in the final results,” said Lloyd.
Clear workplace communication, such as prominent warning signs and well-labeled exit routes play an important role in increasing safety awareness at feed and grain facilities. Advances in labeling systems enable users to create site-specific signs and labels on demand. Labeling supplies that are UV-resistant, chemical, and oil-resistant will perform in the harsh feed and grain environment for many years – because what good is sign or label that’s difficult to read?
Industrial copywriter Jack Rubinger, Graphic Products, has more than 20 years of experience contributing to trade and business publications. Graphic Products is a leading industrial labeling system manufacturer whose customers include Tyson Foods and Kroger Foods. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.GraphicProducts.com.