Combustible Dust Accidents

A little dust might seem harmless enough, but under the right circumstances, it may contribute to a catastrophic fire or explosion. Tiny dust particles in the air can ignite, and rapidly grow into an explosive fireball.

There are five elements that must be present for combustible dust accidents to occur:

  • Fine dust particles
  • High concentrations of dust suspended in the air
  • An oxidant, such as fluorine, chlorine, or atmospheric oxygen
  • An ignition source in the form of electrical arcing, electrostatic discharge, hot surfaces, friction, or fire
  • A confined space or enclosure

How Dust Explosions Happen

In a combustible dust explosion, dust serves as the fuel. When substances are reduced to dust during the manufacturing process, and subsequently hang in the air in sufficient concentrations, they can cause explosions. These explosions often trigger secondary blasts when dust particles are dispersed into the atmosphere, reacting with the heat. These secondary explosions often cause far more widespread damage than the initial blast.

Combustible materials that are typical sources of dust accidents include:

  • Metals such as iron, aluminum, chromium, zinc, and magnesium
  • Foods containing spices, starch, flour, or sugar
  • Materials including wood, paper, tobacco, and grains

Where Dust Accidents Happen

Combustible dust fires and explosions may result in serious employee injuries and even death, and employees working in a number of industries are vulnerable to these types of accidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a few of the most common workplace environments for combustible dust explosions include:

  • Fertilizer plants
  • Food processing or manufacturing plants
  • Grain processing facilities
  • Tire and rubber manufacturing plants
  • Metal processing facilities
  • Paper and pulp processing plants

You Need an Attorney

If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to a combustible dust fire or explosion, you need an attorney to help you receive the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.

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