The Importance of Dust Collection: How Clean Air Can Save Your Life


The Importance of Dust Collection: How Clean Air Can Save Your Life

The importance of dust collection can’t be underestimated when your life is in danger.


Dust collection has become an important issue in many industries that must produce raw materials, such as metalworking or wood pellet manufacturing. The importance of dust collection cannot be understated, especially since employers must now abide by OSHA standards for dust procedures.

What are the dangers of dust? Dust accumulates in the produced material during operations and because of its large quantity and combustible properties, may become a fuel—leading to accidental fires and explosions. The combustible nature of dust has made it hazardous in work environments as we have seen through several unfortunate incidents in factories around the US documented over the past 10 years. OSHA defines combustible dusts as “fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in air in certain conditions.”

Dust that accumulates at wood pellet plants during the production process can end up being a fuel source itself, fueling unwanted fires or explosions. Effective dust management must be an integral aspect of all manufacturing plants as a continual prevention process. “Essentially we are taking a woody product, reducing its particle size and drying it into its most combustible form, and then densifying it afterward,” says Shawn Bells, general manager with Pacific BioEnergy. “So with regard to what we do, we’re probably doing the exact opposite of what you are supposed to be doing—we are creating a fuel—so then we have to deal with it.”

Producers understand now that their operations must be governed strictly by dust control and management in order to abide by OSHA. President of American Wood Fibers Stephen Faeher explains that this increased awareness became prominent around 10 years ago. “OSHA became focused on dust control and management. That’s, I think, when it heightened everyone’s awareness.”

What is OSHA?

oshaThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration governs employment safety by providing employers with hazard-specific safety and health standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that employers comply with health standards given by OSHA or a state-approved plan. The General Duty Clause of the Act (Section 5 (a) (1)) requires that employers maintain a work environment free from recognized hazards which could cause serious harm or death.

What Causes Dust Explosions?

is_0002_shutterstock_241283347The importance of dust collection as a preventative measure is seen in the FIRE TRIANGLE: the elements needed for a fire. In our case, dust comprises the “fuel”:

  • Combustible dust (fuel)
  • Ignition source (heat)
  • Oxygen in air (oxidizer)

In addition, a dust explosion is more likely when the dust cloud is ignited within a confined area. When that dust is further dispersed, this can cause an even more severe second explosion. This may occur after the first explosion shakes fugitive dust into other places. If you have had the warning of a first explosion, be sure to watch out. A second explosion can be more dangerous and create more widespread damage than the first.

The Employer’s Responsibility for Worker Safety

One of the most effective ways to prevent explosions is to train employees to recognize the warning signs of combustion. The importance of training the people closest to the hazard cannot be underestimated, as they can be instrumental in sighting unsafe conditions and calling on management.

Though the OSHA regulations necessitate that certain employees be trained, it is recommended that employers issue basic education on the importance of dust collection and combustion prevention procedures. Such education should include information on plant programs on dust management and ignition source controls. The training should be required in these circumstances:

  • Pre-assignment training
  • Periodic refreshers-i.e. every 6 month re-licensure for work in these environments
  • Re-assignment training-i.e. any time work location changes, employees should receive information correspondent to that area


Training should include a practical as well as a lecture aspect. All lectures should be followed or accompanied by demonstrations of the procedures, and as much as possible, employees should be asked to repeat the procedure for the practical element. Repeating the procedure under supervision with feedback given for each practice re-enforces the most important tasks and ensures that employees have absorbed the detail given by the lectures.

It should also be noted that employers holding hazardous chemicals, which includes combustible dusts, must comply with the Hazard Communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.. Included in this regulation is the law that all containers of hazardous chemicals must have labels on them, and the requirement to provide employee training.

Case Study of Dust Fire and Explosion: Massachusetts (3 killed, 9 injured)

is_0000_shutterstock_97785350In 1999 there was a deadly fire explosion in a foundry in Massachusetts which killed 3 and injured 9 employees. The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), supported by state and local officials, conducted an investigation of the happening to determine its causes.

It was discovered that the fire commenced within a shell molding machine and continued into ventilation systems, fueled by deposits of phenol formaldehyde resin dust. The small fire initiated within the ductwork and dislodged dust sitting on outside of the ducts. This caused a dust cloud to formulate, causing a second explosion (as explained above). The investigation concluded that the following were necessary to prevent such explosions in the future:

  • Housekeeping to manage dust accumulation
  • Ventilation system design
  • Oven maintenance
  • Equipment of safety devices

23This case study shows the necessity for laws surrounding the proper use and disposal of dust types. Other incidences of dust explosions have still been common since 1999, as most standards of national and international safety bodies have been only recommended. But in 2003 alone, there were three dust explosions that caused 14 deaths. The US Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board launched a study of industrial dust explosions.

From 1980 to 2005 there were 281 dust fires in US businesses, causing 119 deaths that could have been prevented. Clearly, dust accumulation and dispersion is a problem that continues to plague production facilities—confirmed by the fact that since the 2003 investigation, 70 more dust fires have taken place within US businesses.

Where are companies going to ensure that their facilities are safe for the worker? What combination of dust protection products and employee training are being used to guard against fires? How are you seeking to prevent dust explosions from occurring in your facilities?

Professional Dust Collection and Management Services

If what you have read thus far is ringing alarm bells for you, you may need dust and fume collection equipment to guard your employees’ safety and the livelihood of your company assets. Over the past ten years, Imperial Systems has provided manufacturers the most advanced and reliable equipment for prevention of dust-induced explosions.

We manufacture all our materials from our own store in western Pennsylvania, so that we can ensure that you have the most quality product possible. We offer the following products:

  • CMAXX Dust Collector System
  • DeltaMAXX Cartridge Filters
  • CMAXX Laser Fume Extraction System
  • Heavy Duty Abort Gates
  • Airlocks
  • Backdraft Damper
  • SCF Dust Collectors
  • Diverter Valves
  • Spark Arrestor
  • Lidegates
  • Flex hose

We hope that our research on the importance of dust collection and process maintenance has been helpful to you as you seek to instill the best practices in your company. At Imperial Systems, we want to bring true value to your company’s systems by using our expertise in the industry and our unique, “home-made” products. We thus hope to be a resource to you as you figure out what your needs are and how best to follow OSHA regulations as summarized above.
For now, we leave you with the question: When was the last time you checked your dust collection processes? Are all your boxes checked in the areas of housekeeping (dust accumulation removal), proper ventilation, safety equipment, and oven maintenance? How often are your employees trained, and are they receiving all the information they need to prevent dust explosions in your manufacturing plant? Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions.

3 Must-Have Products From Imperial Systems, A Metal Fabrication Company

Imperial Systems has the built-to-last components you need for success

The sheet metal workforce has been around since the late 16th century. Sheet metal work is used in almost all aspects of our functionality as a civilization. Our metal fabrication company wants you to know that it is time that we make sure you can easily take care of the health and wellness of your hard working men and women in the metalworking industry.

For over 12 years our metal fabrication company has produced the most advanced fume and dust equipment. All of our products are shipped from our shop in western Pennsylvania. We also pride ourselves in our customer service. Our metal fabrication company produces a number of products for you to choose from for your metalworking shop. These products include:

  • CMAXX Dust Collector System -Designed with state-of-the-art PD Technology for maximum cleaning performance.
  • CMAXX Laser and Plasma Table Fume Extraction – This packaged dust collector  system comes standard with DeltaMAXX Nanofiber fire retardant pleated filter cartridges.
  • Custom Metal Fabrication – Imperial Systems was originally a metal fabrication company that specialized in custom duct and fittings work.
  • To see our other products, please visit our products page.

Imperial Systems also provides great, free tools on our website. You can check out the Air Flow Calculator which is designed to give you the volume of air in any given enclosure and calculate it into CFM with a given number of air changes per hour.

Don’t Let This Happen To You And Your Company

So you may be thinking, “my employees are well taken-care of. We have plenty of fans to circulate the air” or “I’m not worried about getting a new dust collector system, the one we have works just fine”. It is important to make sure to get an inspection of any air ventilation and dust collection system that you have, to ensure there are no traces of asbestos, dust or other fine and harmful metals in the air.

What happens when you don’t have an assessment, and are unknowingly working in a poorly ventilated area? Your employees, not immediately, may become sick. Some of the most common illnesses caused by poor dust collection systems or lack of appropriate ventilation are Mesothelioma and Asbestosis cancer. These illnesses have a latency period of anywhere between 10 and 15 years to materialize, after initial exposure.

Don’t allow this to happen to you or your employees and call Imperial Systems for an assessment. Our experts are here to guide you step by step in reaching a healthier workplace. Remember, when looking for metal fabrication companies that specialize in ventilation and ductwork, give us a call!

Industrial ductwork: Re-Imagined

What could industrial ductwork look like for your company? We want to share a story about a client just like you.

What should you as a company be looking for in quality industrial ductwork? If you are in the metalworking industry seeking customized ducting for optimal flexibility and durability, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

industrial ductwork

Industrial Ductwork with a Bang

To share about our experience, Imperial Systems has a long history of fabricating custom sheet metal ductwork, currently providing these types:

  • Lock seam pipe
  • Fabricated gore elbows
  • Fully welded pipe
  • Heavy Duty Flat Back elbows
  • Floor sweeps

The variety of parts that go into designing a quality industrial ductwork system show that you can’t just go in and get it done without an appraisal to advise materials. When we started in 2001, Imperial Systems only worked in ductwork and fittings. Now, though we offer many other services, we still consider ourselves experts in this industry. Here’s one story about how we helped a company with serious ductwork challenges.

The Challenge of the Longaberger Company

A globally renowned manufacturer of handcrafted wood baskets and home products such as iron, fabric accessories, and pottery, the Longaberger company chose Imperial Systems for cost effectiveness. The Longaberger company preferred Imperial Systems for its choices in layout, design, and expertise as a manufacturer of every system part.

The Longaberger corporate headquarters building is a shining example of novelty architecture: it’s nationally recognized for being shaped as a basket! But due to economic decline, the company had just sold an old building and was moving across the street into a smaller one. The ductwork in the smaller building was about 10 years old, so it was time for a renovation. The challenge was to do this in a cost-efficient way to make it worth the down-size.

Imperial Systems came in and completed the project in two phases:

  • Transferral

The Imperial Systems crew came in to move the cartridge collector and the BRF into the new location.

  • Installation

The Imperial Systems crew then came in to install the duct and fittings for the new building.

The project was a great success. Not only did the company get what it needed on time, but in such a way that it saved costs by combining the collectors. Here’s what plant manager Berry S. had to say about the experience:

“Imperial did a great job at looking at what our needs were and solving the issues that we had in the past. They helped us move from two big collectors down to one”,

We’re proud to offer the best in the metalwork and ductwork industries. We hope that you will consider our services when you are looking for an excellent and cost-efficient industrial ductwork renovation or replacement. Contact us at  724.662.2801 for a phone consultation.

industrial ductwork  | ductwork industrial

Imperial Systems Are Duct And Fittings Experts

Don’t let the other guys leave your metalworking warehouse with faulty duct and fittings.

Are you looking for a high-quality duct system for your metalworking company? Imperial Systems manufactures industry leading products with outstanding safety, quality and value. Imperial Systems is among the top dust collection equipment manufacturing businesses in North America. One of our goals is to make sure that every warehouse is running their dust collection equipment with high-quality parts, including duct and fittings.

Why Should You Consider Replacing Your Duct And Fittings?

Along with the outstanding customer service our company offers, we manufacture only the highest quality product that are guaranteed to last. Below are a few reasons why you should consider replacing your current duct and fittings:duct and fittings

  • Your current duct and fittings are visually falling apart. Don’t let dust and fumes escape, causing your employees to be sick, or risking combustion in the workplace.
  • You just had a new dust collector installed. Be sure that you thoroughly inspected the current ducts and fittings. Your new dust collector/fume extractor won’t function to its highest potential if faulty ducts are connected to it.
  • You’ve noticed your employees getting sick more often. The cause may be leaky ducts and fittings.
  • Poor customer service. The company you currently have your duct work installed and maintained through lack quality customer service. You are looking for integrity and a trustworthy business relationship
  • Your air duct system is inconvenient. This is causing more work for your employees, slowing down production.
  • Your system is outdated. With an updated system you can save time and money. You may also reduce a risk of an accident or hazard.
  • Your duct and fittings do not meet OSHA and NFPA standards.


Imperial Systems Has A Solution For You

If you found yourself saying yes to one or more of the replacement reasons above, Imperial Systems has a solution for you. Don’t let your employees risk their health due to the fine dust particles that metalworking creates. Keep your employees healthy and your environment safe with our quality duct work. Our ducts and fittings can be added to any current system you have, or we can replace your system with one of our highly demanded CMAXX Dust Collector Systems or other Extraction Systems we offer.

Most products are available to ship within 24 hours. For more information on how we can help your business, give us a call today at (800) 918-3013.

Never Buy Donaldson Replacement Filters Again

Discover the advantages Imperial Systems’ filters have over Donaldson replacement filters and make the switch today.

Are you still buying Donaldson replacement filters for your metalworking business?  If so, you are throwing away money on a product that is not providing you with the longest lasting filtration in the industry.  Rather than continuing to spend more money on less performance, take the time to discover why many metalworkers like you have switched from Donaldson replacement filters to Imperial Systems’ DeltaMAXX cartridge filters.  Once you discover the difference, we have no doubt that you, too, will switch to the replacement filters which can provide you the performance, lifespan, and savings you really need for your metalworking business.

DeltaMAXX Offers the Advantages You Depend On…

Donaldson Replacement FiltersWhen you started buying Donaldson replacement filters, you were probably impressed by a number of their advantages: the latest nanofiber technology, a MERV 15 efficiency rating, and a perfect fit in your existing dust collection systems.  Certainly these are all important assets to have when it comes to handling your workshop’s heavy duty metalworking dust and fumes.

Did you know that you can find all of these same advantages from Imperial Systems’ DeltaMAXX cartridge filters?  With the same nanofiber technology, you get a high performance filter which requires minimal pulse cleaning.  You will also get the highest efficiency rating in the industry and can be confident that these filters will be compatible with your current dust collection system.

…With More Long Term Benefits

However, the DeltaMAXX advantages actually go above and beyond those of the Donaldson filters.  Two areas that we know are important to metalworking businesses which stand out are:

  • Lifespan: Using the best surface loading technology, our filters are proven to offer up to twice the filter life of the industry standard.  This feature will not only save your business money, but also the time and stress of continually having to order and replace new filters.
  • Fits All Makes and Models: At Imperial Systems, we understand that your needs as a business are continually changing, as technology and methods develop over time.  So, you may have a Donaldson dust collector system now, but in a few years, that may be replaced by another.  You need a reliable filter which you can find to fit any one of the systems you may choose.  That’s why Imperial Systems manufactures our DeltaMAXX filters to fit all makes and models of dust collection systems.

Ready to Switch From Donaldson Replacement Filters?

Now that you know that you can get all of the advantages of a Donaldson cartridge filter, and more, when you switch to the DeltaMAXX filters, what more are you waiting for?  Give our service representatives a call today to get more details or to place your order.  Contact us at: 800.918.3013.