A World-wide Problem in 2018.

Although international data is limited, the Combustible Dust Hazard Study published by the US Chemical Safety Board gives information on explosions in the United States. From this report 5- and 25-year trends can be calculated as of 2005:
1980-2005: 11 Explosions
28 Injuries and 5 Fatalities Per Year
2001-2005: 19 Explosions
43 Injuries and 9 Fatalities Per Year 

The current reporting effort gives the following averages since 2016:
2016-2018: 31 Explosions
34 Injuries and 4 Fatalities Per Year

This data suggests that the number of explosions per year is increasing over time.
Jan – June 2018:
From the Jan – June 2018 global data, 89% of the fatalities occurred due to explosions. From the injuries, 70% occurred from explosions while 30% were from fires. Some of the more severe incidents include:
  • Seven Killed in Grain Silo Explosion (Port Aqaba, Jordan)
  • One Killed in Grain Elevator Explosion (South Sioux City, NE)
  • Ten Injured in Metal Dust Explosion (Changhua, Taiwan)
In North America, the trend for capital cost was reversed from personal loss. Out of the 11 incidents with a reported loss of $1 Million and above, 8 were from fires and 3 were from explosions. Three incidents were recorded with losses above 15 million:
  • Cotton Seed Elevator Fire in Altus, Oklahoma ($20 Million)
  • Coal Silo Explosion in San Juan, New Mexico ($15-20 Million)
  • Metallurgic Dust Fire in Muskegon, Michigan ($15 Million)
(Jan – June 2018):

As provided in the US Chemical Safety Board, “Combustible Dust Hazard Study” Report No. 2006-H-1, wood and food products make up to 45% or more of the materials involved in dust fires and explosions.

Combustible products of wood processing include:
  • Sawdust Fibers
  • Chips Pellets
  • Shavings
Although wood and food products have a similar proportion of the overall incidents, the global Jan-June 2018 data suggests that food products have a disproportionately higher percentage of explosions and more severe incidents:
Wood Products: 33 Fires, 5 Explosions, 10 Injuries, 0 Fatalities
Food Products:      24 Fires, 12 Explosions, 14 Injuries, 8 Fatalities

Other materials besides wood, food, and metal made up an average of 25% of the incidents involving fires, explosions, injuries and fatalities. In Jan-June 2018 these ‘other’ materials included paper, coal, carbon, sulfur, textile & toner.
(Jan – June 2018):

Wood processing, agricultural activities, and food production make up a large proportion of the overall fire and explosion incidents. Other industries not broken out in the data include:

  • Pulp & Paper
  • Education
  • Coatings
  • Oil and Gas
  • Textiles
  • Recycling
  • Other Manufacturing

According to the Jan – June 2018 Incident Data, Wood and Wood Product industries tended to have larger capital cost from combustible dust incidents. Out of the 11 incidents which reported losses of $1 million or more, six occurred in wood working, biomass storage, and pellet manufacturing industries.

Five of these were fires and one was an explosion. Combined, these incidents resulted in $24 million in reported losses although the unreported losses are likely much higher.

The remaining five ‘High-Loss’ incidents included an explosion in a metal die-casting facility, two coal dust explosions at power generation and mining operations, respectively, and a fire at a cottonseed facility.

EQUIPMENT: (Jan – June 2018)
Dust collection equipment is the leading cause of combustible dust incidents with an average just over 20% since 2016. The breakdown between fires and explosions in Jan – June 2018 for different equipment is:
  • Dust Collectors:           25 Fires 3 Explosions
  • Storage Silos:                 8 Fires 9 Explosions
  • Other Storage:              12 Fires 2 Explosions
  • Elevators/Conveyors:    7 Fires 5 Explosions
  • Other:                             21 Fires 3 Explosions
  • No Details:                     16 Fires 4 Explosions
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Bill Nagengast, Lighting Engineer
Solas Ray Lighting
Holds over 20 patents in the lighting industry.
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TJ-62 3.15.19