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Spark Trap Safety System: Protect your Dust Collector

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Spark Trap Safety System: Protect your Dust Collector

Extinguish the threat of explosions with a Spark Trap safety system.

While it is imperative that every metalworking facility have highly efficient dust collection systems, it is just as crucial that metalworking facilities utilize a spark trap safety system to provide even greater protection from these combustible hazards.

spark trap safety systemWe have dedicated over a 15 years to preventing and reducing fires and explosions in metalworking and manufacturing facilities. We also continually strive to meet and exceed the standards recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Our company also meets the guidelines set out by the National Fire Protection Association with our highly efficient dust collection systems and replacement cartridge filters.

If you’re asking yourself if a spark trap is really necessary– the answer is yes! Consider the findings of the OSHA’s National Emphasis Program.  It shows that metal dust accounts for 20% of explosions nationwide. Also, 7% of ignition sources are ignited by fabricated metals while another 8% of ignition sources are caused by Primary metals. If you want to reduce the possibility of an accident at your metalworking facility, you MUST invest in spark arrestors!

How Can  Spark Trap Safety Systems Reduce Explosions?

Adding a spark trap to your industrial dust collection system is like adding a security system to your home. You already have the proper amount of protection with locks, but installing a security system in your home provides another line of defense, keeping you and your family safe.

Our spark trap, named Spark Arrestor, is the first line of defense in protecting your metal fabricators and your metalworking facility from explosions.  Spark Arrestors extinguish nearly every spark before it enters into the main containment unit where combustible dust and other flammable material collects. When you choose our Spark Arrestors, you’ll receive a quality product made with heavy duty materials that is highly effective at keeping sparks from entering your industrial dust collector.

Here are some key features you’ll receive when you invest in our spark traps:

  • Maintenance free components
  • Fully welded construction
  • Easy install for any system
  • No moving parts
  • Available in carbon steel or stainless steel
  • Can be installed in horizontal or vertical configurations
  • Available in 6in. – 40in.
  • Clean out door
  • Doesn’t require water


Spark Trap Optional Features include:

  • Raw inlet and outlet edges
  • A clamp together function for clamping duct
  • Rolled angle flange for bolt together duct

Want to know more about the Spark Arrestor?  Check out our FAQ to learn all of the benefits of our Spark Trap safety system.

Spark Trap | Spark Traps

Workplace Hazard Exposure A Crime?

Yes, workplace hazard exposure is a serious offense.  As of this year, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor (which includes OSHA) are partnering to bring federal charges against companies who expose workers to hazardous materials and carcinogens.

workplace hazard exposure

 

This partnership is intended to let prosecutors use powerful environmental protection laws to prosecute companies for worker safety violations involving exposure to dangerous substances. This will allow prosecutors working on OSHA worker exposure cases to work with the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice to maximize penalties and criminal charges.

 

In many cases, environmental protection laws are stricter and have stronger punishments than OSHA regulations. Environmental protection has wide public support and considerably more funding than occupational health and safety. There is an entire division of the Department of Justice that handles environmental crimes, and these may carry a much heavier fine or more serious criminal charges.

 

OSHA’s ability to level criminal charges is usually limited to situations where an employer willfully and knowingly violated safety standards and caused the death of a worker. These cases can be difficult to prove and even more difficult to prosecute. Under the laws regulating environmental crimes, releasing or failing to control any workplace hazard exposure to dangerous substances can be considered a crime, even if the exposure does not result in death or serious injury.

 

Just like with OSHA fines, the most serious criminal charges will go to employers who repeatedly violate the rules or who fail to correct problems even when they know about them. Bringing in the Department of Justice and their regulation of environmental laws is likely to affect companies who aren’t following the rules for controlling or cleaning up their hazardous materials.

 

Workplace hazard exposure includes materials such as dust and fumes from many types of industrial processes.  Some examples are welding, plasma or laser cutting, manufacturing of plastics and resins, printing inks and pigments, as well as production of chemicals or fertilizers.

 

OSHA usually sets exposure limits for employees. Environmental regulations set limits for how much of a material can be released into the environment, regardless of the exposure to individual employees. Under the Department of Justice, hazardous materials being released inside a facility can be handled under environmental laws.

 

For metalworking facilities, hexavalent chromium, manganese, and other components of cutting and welding fumes are heavily regulated as environmental toxins. Exposing people to these materials, inside or outside, can be an environmental crime. Hexavalent chromium often contaminates drinking water, and it’s a major environmental concern.

 

For any company that either uses or produces hazardous dust or fumes, a dust collection system is very important for limiting exposure. The system will not only keep the materials away from workers, but also collects them safely and allows you to dispose of them properly. A dust and fume collection system that’s maintained and used correctly is a necessary tool for controlling hazardous airborne particles or fumes.

 

 

https://www.justice.gov/enrd/worker-endangerment/about

https://www.justice.gov/enrd/file/800431/download

https://www.justice.gov/enrd/file/800526/download

Energy Cost Savings Through Your Dust Collector

HOW YOUR DUST COLLECTOR CAN PAY FOR ITSELF

Installing a dust collection system (or updating an old one) is a big investment. Safety, health, and compliance are all important reasons to do so.  Will energy cost savings with this investment benefit your company in the long run? When a company is looking at spending that kind of money, it helps to be able to talk about a more immediate return on your investment.

 

The good news is that your new system can pay for itself in as little as two years by saving you a lot of money on heating and cooling costs.

energy cost

It’s hard to put a dollar amount on employee health, but it’s easy to put a dollar amount on how much you spend heating and cooling your building. If you’re spending that money and then venting heated air outside the building, you’re effectively blowing money out the window.

 

Many of our CMAXX systems have paid for themselves within two years just in energy cost savings. And they will continue to save their owners money for many years of service. Some companies have even been able to find energy conservation incentives that save them money on the immediate cost of a system.

 

Recirculating air back into the facility can be an excellent cost-saving measure, but only if it doesn’t compromise the health of people working there. This means that the recirculated air has to be completely clean and safe.

 

If you’re planning to recirculate air, it’s important to make sure that your system is equipped to handle the type of dust you’re producing. Particles from welding fumes and laser or plasma cutting smoke can be as small as half a micron. This usually requires a filter with a rating of at least MERV 15, meaning it is more than 95% effective for particles down to 0.3 microns. If there might be dangerous or highly regulated materials (such as hexavalent chromium) in the dust, a HEPA filter may be necessary for air that’s going to be returned inside.

 

Besides the savings on energy costs, a system that recirculates air can actually be more efficient. In some ambient systems, the clean air enters at the level where people are working, which moves the dirty air out of the work area and toward the collector. These types of systems are very effective at filtering the air in larger spaces.

 

If a dust and fume collector is something you’re going to need anyway, the tremendous savings in  your energy cost might be what it takes to get that project into the budget. After all, those heating and cooling cost savings will go back into the budget year after year, and that’s something everyone likes to hear.

Weld Smoke: Know The Health Risks

Weld Smoke and Fume Dangers

Weld smoke is a direct cause of Pneumosiderosis, also known as welder’s lung. Inhaling iron dust or fumes, usually from welding, is a serious health issue. While it’s one of the most common lung diseases of welders, it’s not the only one. Welders are also at risk of chronic bronchitis and cancer. Fortunately, a properly designed dust and fume collector, like our CMAXX™, can prevent these problems.

 

A case study from the publication Cases Journal gives an example of how welder’s lung can occur. It follows the case of a 64-year-old man who went to his doctor with a cough. He had worked as a welder in an automobile factory for 15 years, welding steel frames. The work area was small and enclosed, without a proper dust collection system to remove weld smoke and fumes.

weld smoke

The man’s doctor found that his lung X-ray was abnormal. Tests showed that his lungs contained many white blood cells full of iron. White blood cells remove things from your lungs that don’t belong there, but large amounts of inhaled iron are too much for them to handle. This buildup of iron causes coughing, shortness of breath, and eventually chronic lung disease.

 

The man was advised to stop working as a welder. His doctor treated him for his symptoms, and after some time his lung function returned to normal. However, he remains at an increased risk of lung cancer as a result of his long exposure to hexavalent chromium present in the steel.

 

Along with welder’s lung, inhaled welding dust or fumes also causes an increased risk of cancer. Hexavalent chromium, found in the steel the man in the case study worked on, is a known carcinogen, and welding in general has been associated with increased cancer risk.

How Do You Prevent These Risks?

Because the fumes and smoke from welding contain iron and other metals in very, very small particles, these are easily inhaled deep into the lungs. Because these particles are so small, our DeltaMAXX™ nanofiber filters are efficient at removing dust as small as .3 microns, making them an excellent choice for welding and other metal working applications.

 

While pneumosiderosis most often affects welders because they are usually very close to the materials they’re working with, the same problem can affect people who are exposed to fumes from laser or plasma cutting. Dust from these applications also may contain hexavalent chromium and other health hazards. Our CMAXX™ system for cutting tables can remove fumes from the air before employees are exposed to them.

 

The most basic way to prevent welder’s lung is to remove weld smoke and fumes from the air that welders are breathing. A dust and fume collection system like the CMAXX™ can be designed to capture fumes from individual welding stations or from the ambient air. Our systems work with you to keep welders safe and healthy.

Do you have a story or opinion you would like to share?  Leave us a comment below.

 

https://casesjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1757-1626-2-6639

http://oem.bmj.com/content/52/12/800

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0274(199610)30:4%3C373::AID-AJIM1%3E3.0.CO;2-X/abstract;jsessionid=A9E5681B36ABF6E7C7C0B4F674E67A10.f03t02

http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=1157

Dust Explosions: The Hidden Hazard

Dust explosions are bad to begin with, but what do you know about secondary explosions?  There are many factors that determine how likely a particular type of dust causes a deflagration. When you think of combustible dust, do you think of the explosions you’ve heard about at grain handling facilities? Maybe you think of the explosive potential of aluminum dust.

 

Three dust explosions that occurred in 2003 demonstrate how many different types of production and manufacturing can produce a deflagration risk (http://www.fireworld.com/Archives/tabid/93/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/86899/DEADLY-DUST.aspx). In a North Carolina plant, the accumulated dust came from a polyethylene coating being applied to rubber. As the material dried, dust was formed and accumulated above the work area. Even though the work area itself was very clean, a layer of dust a quarter of an inch thick was enough to cause an explosion that killed six people. In this situation, a dust collection system in the production area could have captured the dust particles as they came off the material, before they were allowed to circulate through the facility.

dust explosions

The explosion in Kentucky was caused by combustible dust that resulted from a resin used to treat fiberglass. Workers were aware of the large quantities of dust, but cleaning processes often just caused more of the dust to become airborne, and it accumulated in the ductwork and in dust collection equipment. There were no safeguards in place to prevent a flame front from traveling through the ductwork or getting into the dust collector. An abort gate with spark or flame detection could have identified and stopped the fire from spreading, and dust collectors designed to stop deflagration fronts could have prevented the dust collectors from becoming sites of secondary explosions.

 

The explosion in Indiana was fueled by aluminum dust from scrap processing. The dust collector in this case was the source of the explosion. It did not have explosion venting, and instead of being directed safely, the explosion traveled back into the building and ignited dust in the ductwork. A secondary explosion occurred when dust accumulated on surfaces inside the facility ignited. A dust collector designed to isolate and redirect a deflagration could have prevented this accident.

 

The National Fire Protection Association, which establishes many of the codes and standards for handling potential fire hazards (http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards) recommends that all dust collection systems should have explosion venting to redirect explosions and abort gates or other equipment to stop flame fronts from spreading. It also recommends improved housekeeping measures to prevent dust from accumulating, which may be accomplished by collecting dust at the source so it cannot accumulate in difficult-to-reach places.

 

It’s often this accumulated dust, hidden on high surfaces, in corners, or inside ductwork, that ignites to cause a secondary explosion that’s far more dangerous than the original one. Witness reports of dust explosions often include descriptions of a smaller explosion followed by one or more larger ones; this is secondary ignition (https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3791.pdf). Dust control throughout the entire facility, along with fire prevention equipment such as abort gates, spark arrestors, and explosion venting, can control a potential explosion and prevent a small fire from becoming a fatal disaster.

BagHouses: How They Work

Baghouses and Dust Collectors are often used as synonyms. The baghouse is a system in which air is filtered by bags made of various materials, which are periodically cleaned to remove the accumulated dust. Today, cartridge dust collectors are increasingly popular in many industries, and for good reason: cartridge filters can pack a lot of surface area into a small space and can filter very small (sub-micron) particulate very efficiently. For some industries this is essential, particularly for industries such as metalworking that generate smoke and fumes that contain potentially toxic materials.

The baghouse, however, has been a workhorse industrial dust control for many years, and continues to serve its role today. While the basic concept remains the same, new filter materials and new ways to solve problems make them more adaptable than ever. Not every industry produces dust that’s fine enough to need the high efficiency of a cartridge collector.baghouses

Generally, all baghouses have a tube sheet to which the bags are attached, an inlet for dirty air and an outlet for clean air, and an opening at the bottom for collected dust to drop out. The location of these features depends on the type of baghouse. The main differences between types of baghouses is how the bags are kept clean.

In a shaker baghouse, the bags are cleaned by mechanically shaking them. The bags usually hang from the top of the unit and are attached to the tube sheet at the bottom. In this type of system, air typically enters from the bottom.  It is then pulled through to collect on the inside of the bags. Air then exits at the top as clean air while the dust is collected on the inside of the bags. To clean the bags, the airflow must be shut off and the hanging mechanism shakes the bags to get rid of the dust, which drops out the bottom. These are not the most efficient types of baghouses and can be high-maintenance.  Yes, the design is simple and does not require compressed air or complicated supports for the bags, however damage to the bags can occur from the mechanical shaking mechanism.

In a reverse air baghouse like our BRF, dirty air enters the collector and dust collects on the outside of the bags, which are supported by a metal cage to keep the air pressure from collapsing them. Steady air circulation continuously pulls air through the filter bags. For cleaning, a fan rotates over the bags, blowing reverse air into them to remove dust. This type of reverse air baghouse generates a lower pressure than the compressed air pulses of a pulse jet, which can decrease wear and tear on the bags and save on the cost of compressed air. They are usually very cost-efficient and if used within the parameters for which they were designed, they are very effective.

Also, this type of reverse air baghouse can continue running while cleaning occurs. An older type of baghouse also sometimes referred to as reverse air may collect dust on the inside of the bags and then cut off the inflow of dirty air and use a reverse flow of clean air to partially collapse the bags, which also removes the dust. These types of bags have rigid rings that allow them to flex but not collapse completely, or “pancake”. These types of reverse air baghouses have to be taken off line for cleaning or are divided into compartments so one section at a time can be cleaned.

A pulse jet baghouse is somewhat similar. The bags are supported by metal cages and hang from a tube sheet at the top of the baghouse. Dust and air enter and dust collects on the outside surface of the bags, not the inside. The bags are cleaned by bursts or pulses of compressed air that travel down the length of the bag and dislodge the dust. Because the pulse of air travels very quickly down the bags, this type of baghouse can be cleaned without taking it offline. This allows them to operate more efficiently since dust is removed from the bags at more regular intervals. The downside to these types of collectors is the higher pressure and expense of compressed air, which adds to operating costs.

The EPA provides information (link: https://www3.epa.gov/ttncatc1/dir1/cs6ch1.pdf) to help you make a general calculation of the capital costs of a baghouse dust control system. Their calculations include the cost of the collector, the bags (and cages if necessary), measurement instruments, installation costs, and the annual operating costs (electricity, compressed air, labor, and materials). These costs will obviously vary widely. A pulse jet baghouse requires compressed air, which is not needed for the other types of baghouses, but may require fewer filters since they are more efficient.

One thing that is a major headache for owners of any type of baghouse: replacing the bags. This is usually a dirty, messy, time-consuming job that requires the collector to be off-line for a considerable period of time. It often involves working in an enclosed space. Mechanisms for attaching the bags to the tube sheets vary widely, but especially when cages are involved it can be a very involved process. Some companies installing new dust control equipment choose a cartridge filter collector because vertical collectors like our CMAXXTM are easy to change and do not involve issues with confined spaces. For existing baghouses that need frequent bag changes, a pleated filter bag (link to our page) is an option that should be considered. These have a much larger surface area and last much longer than traditional bags, which means less frequent changes. Also, pleated filter bags do not require cages, which greatly simplifies the changing process.

To learn more about Imperial Systems’ Baghouses, call us today at 800-918-3013.  Our helpful, knowledgeable team members can answer any questions you may have about all types of dust collection solutions.

Welding Fumes: Your Toenails Hold Clues

WELDING FUMES MEET “CSI”: WHY SCIENTISTS ARE COLLECTING WELDERS’ TOENAILS

A group of researchers interested in exposure to metals in welding fumes come to your workplace to collect samples. You might think they’d be there to test the air quality or to take samples of fumes or dust. These researchers didn’t come to do any of those things. The only equipment they bring with them: paper envelopes and toenail clippers.

That’s right… these researchers are here for your toenails.

That’s how researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (Grashow et al, 2014) studied the long-term exposure to toxic metals in weld fumes in a group of welders in Massachusetts. The welders provided several toenail samples over a period of time, and the clippings were analyzed.

Some forensics television shows have investigators acquire a  hair sample and test it for poison. This works because many things that get into our bloodstream, including metals, are deposited in our hair and fingernails as they grow.  The researchers chose toenails because they grow more slowly and give a record that covers a longer period of exposure.

welding fumes

So what did they find?

Even among workers who wore respirators, researchers were able to detect lead, manganese, cadmium, nickel, and arsenic. Lead is a well-known health hazard, and you probably don’t need to be told that arsenic isn’t a good thing either. Long-term exposure to manganese is associated with central nervous system problems that can mimic Parkinson’s disease. Cadmium is known to cause cancer, and nickel can cause skin problems and lung irritation.

Respirators are a key part of controlling exposure to welding fumes. These welders, though, were still exposed to enough of these metals that it could be found in their toenails. While it wasn’t within the scope of this research study to determine exactly how workers were exposed, one possibility is that respirators may be worn while welding, but not while doing other work around the shop in places where dust from cutting and welding may have accumulated.

A dust collection system that removes welding fumes and dust from the air completely will prevent  toxic metal particles from accumulating in your work areas. Respirators may prevent inhalation during welding, but if the weld fumes aren’t being removed from the air, workers can still be exposed to it. A system that keeps the air clean for your entire facility doesn’t just protect workers while they’re wearing respirators. It protects all of your workers, all of the time.

 

Grashow, R. et al (2014). Toenail metal concentration as a biomarker of occupational welding fume exposure. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 11, 397-405.

The Value of Dust Collection Management

Dust collection management is one of the main investments that those in the timber industry must face in the near future.   In fact, Timber Processing Magazine (www.timberprocessing.com), which conducts research on industry production, supply, and investments, notes that many facilities will need to plan for additional equipment needs above and beyond those they have already planned for.

Areas where facilities may need to plan for investments include:

Dust collection management

Complete BRF System Installation

  • Loading equipment
  • Drying kilns
  • Planer mill sorting and packaging
  • Forklifts
  • Conveyers
  • Dust control

Because of the extremely combustible nature of wood production dust and OSHA’s increasingly strict regulations on combustible dust collection management, dust collection equipment is one of several investments that companies in this industry may need to consider.

Modernization of equipment is often essential to streamline production and materials handling. According to the surveys conducted by Timber Processing Magazine, almost 75% of facilities rated their return on investments in 2015 as “good” or “excellent”.

When considering where to put that investment, dust control equipment should definitely be top on the list. Processing more product creates more dust, and nothing can shut your production down faster than a malfunctioning dust collection system or, worse, a fire.

Even if your current dust collection system is handling your dust adequately, equipment such as explosion isolation valves, spark arrestors, and backdraft dampers can be a valuable investment in fire and explosion prevention. Wood processing dust has its own unique demands on dust collection and fire suppression systems, and an experienced systems engineer should be consulted to make sure equipment is optimized for your particular application.

Good news for the timber industry is also good news for manufacturers who produce equipment for this industry. This recent report makes it clear that this industry is alive and well, and that companies are likely to see long-term benefits from investments they make in new equipment.

  • CMAXX Dust Collector decal 4
  • CMAXX Industrial dust collector
  • CMAXX Dust Collector decal 3
  • Cmaxx dust collectors decal 2

New CMAXX Dust Collector Demo Unit

Check out our new decals for our CMAXX Dust Collector Demo Unit! we’re very excited to showcase these.