Within the grain handling industry, many factors — especially the movement and transportation of grain — result in the release of highly combustible particles into the air, according to US Department of Labor. These aerated particles pose serious threats, including risk of grain dust explosions, to industry employees, infrastructure, equipment, and more.
A significant risk factor in the grain handling industry, hot work involves processes such as burning, electric or gas welding, cutting, grinding, brazing, or other similar flame-producing operations that could potentially result in grain dust explosions.
There are many steps, including specific Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, to take when performing hot work in the grain handling industry to ensure the safety of all involved. Just remember to follow the four P’s:
Permits: Prior to engaging in hot work around potentially combustible materials, be sure you have a proper permit that outlines precautions to be followed while performing work to ensure the hot work procedures will be followed.
Prevention: Remove the object(s) or the fire hazard(s). Cover floor openings, cracks, holes in walls, and open or broken windows, so that combustible materials will not be exposed to sparks.
Protection: Fire extinguishing equipment must be ready and could include pails of water, buckets of sand, hoses, or portable fire extinguishers.
Preparation: Fire watchers are required whenever welding or cutting is performed in locations where more than a minor fire may occur and potentially combustible materials are within close proximity to the workspace. The fire watchers must be properly trained and in possession of equipment appropriate for the workspace.
How can this information best reach those who need it the most? Have conversations among colleagues, share the most up-to-date information and resources with employees in regular safety evaluations and meetings. Finally, to ensure the safety of employees, community members, equipment, infrastructure, and production, remember the four P’s: Permits, Prevention, Protection, and Preparation.