The recent Tuas accident, which was caused by potato starch powder has claimed three workers’ lives and left seven others injured.
Official authorities has confirmed that the accident was caused by combustible dust explosion. This has sent a sharp reminder to industries that deal with combustible dust and particles to take relevant safety measures to ensure such similar incidents can be avoided in the future.
This includes industries which handle substances and materials such as rubber, chemical, wood, food and metal. The dust from these workplaces could be present in the form of dust and other organic powders like starch and flour.
According to a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) circular issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Division in July 2015, fine particles can combust when all five elements of a “dust explosion pentagon” are present: Fuel (the combustible dust), air, dispersion, confinement and ignition source.
The figure above explains that when the dust particles are present in the air, along with correct amount of ignition source and oxygen supply, a dust explosion may occur.
Read below to know further on the important measures at a workplace to prevent dust explosion:
– Conduct regular and frequent hazardous dust inspection, testing, housekeeping and control programme
– Implementing correct dust collection systems
– Regularly inspect for dust residues in open and hidden areas
– Control smoking & open flames and sparks (mechanical sparks and friction)
– Implement inert gas blanketing at workplace
– Practise communicating the risks of dust explosion at workplace
Learn the Dangers of Dust!