How can dust cause a workplace explosion?

| Jan 28, 2016 | Workplace Safety |

When considering what kinds of materials could cause a serious explosion, most people likely think of such things as volatile chemicals and gases. Fortunately, areas that store chemicals and gases typically have signs warning workers of the potential safety hazards. Moreover, these materials are usually stored in containers that are designed to minimize the risk of explosions.

However, there is another substance that is both common and potentially explosive; dust. The fact is, in the right set of circumstances, combustible dust particles can be ignited, resulting in an explosion. There are five elements that must be in place for a dust explosion to occur. The first three; oxygen, combustible dust and heat, are required to produce a fire. The explosion can result if a high enough concentration of the dust particles is dispersed within a confined area. In other words, if a room gets filled with a high level of combustible dust, a spark could set off a devastating explosion.

Combustible dust can be found in a variety of work environments, including those in the plastics, rubber, textiles and food industries. Employers have a duty to make sure work areas do not become rife with combustible dust. Therefore, employers should take measures such as conducting hazardous dust inspections and controlling potential ignition sources, including sparks and open flames.

A dust explosion could leave a worker severely burned and even permanently disfigured. Burn injuries are physically and emotionally traumatic, and victims often require long-term treatment. If you or a family member should be the victim of an explosion while on the job, an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney could work on your behalf and try to get you appropriate recompense for your medical and associated expenses.