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Winter Maintenance: Be Prepared!

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Winter Maintenance: Be Prepared!

Your dust and fume collector can save you money on heating this winter. But to make the most of those savings, your system might need some winter maintenance. It’s that time of year when your dust collector system needs a little attention to make sure it’s ready for the demands of colder weather.

 

 

  • REPLACING THOSE FILTERS

 

Winter maintenance means you’re going to want to start the new year with clean new filters… and you’re not going to want to be stuck changing them in the middle of a snowstorm.

 

  • CHANGING THE MAGNAHELIC GAUGE FILTER

 

It’s easy to forget about this little filter, but it’s necessary to keep the gauge readings accurate, and should be replaced whenever you replace your other filters.

 

  • CHECK FOR ACCUMULATED DUST

If you’ve been working with the doors open during the warmer months and not running the dust collector as much, you might have dust accumulated, especially in high places or flat surfaces. For safety, try to remove as much of it as possible.

 

  • CHECK AIRLOCK WIPERS AND BEARINGS

Airlock wipers should usually be changed once a year. Worn-out wipers don’t do their job properly. Winter maintenance is a good time to check them. When you replace wipers, you should also plan to replace the bearings.

 

  • CHECK HEATERS ON PULSE VALVES

If you’re in a cold area and your pulse valves have heaters to keep them from freezing up, make sure they’re working. Frozen pulse valves are an inconvenience nobody needs to deal with in frigid weather.

 

  • CHECK SOLENOID AND DIAPHRAGM VALVES

Again, these are not things you want to have breaking in the middle of nasty winter weather. A quick check and some preventative maintenance if necessary can save you a headache later.

 

  • CHECK COMPRESSED AIR HOSES

Cold can make hoses more brittle and likely to break. If your compressed air hoses have any weak spots or look worn or damaged, now is a good time to make sure they get fixed or replaced.

 

  • CHECK SEALS AND GASKETS

As with the hoses, cold can make seals and gaskets crack or develop leaks. If any of them need replaced, doing it before the weather gets cold can save you from dealing with downtime from an unexpected leak.

 

  • CALIBRATE DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE GAUGE

If you have the tools to do it, this is a good time to calibrate the differential pressure gauge and make sure you’re getting accurate readings. These gauges need calibrated occasionally to give you the most accurate information

 

  • CHECK YOUR DUST COLLECTOR ROOF

 

If you’re a CMAXXTM owner, lucky you! Your domed CrownTechTM roof will keep snow or ice from piling up on top of the collector. If you don’t have a CMAXXTM, make sure you keep an eye on the amount of snow or ice buildup, since that can cause leaks into the collector.

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

Dust Explosion Dangers Case Studies

WHEN WATER TURNS A FIRE INTO AN EXPLOSION

 

A combustible dust explosion is an ever present danger for workers in many industries. These two examples show that despite increased awareness, explosive dust still puts lives at risk. One thing they both have in common: water may have actually made them much worse.

dust explosion

The first example shows how even things that seem like safe and practical fire-fighting measures can lead to disaster. In May, a grain dust explosion in a silo injured a worker who was attempting to put out a dust fire with water.

 

Because the very fine dust was contained in the silo, all the criteria for an explosion were present… except for one. The dust provided fuel for a fire, and the open silo hatch provided oxygen. With the material confined in the closed space of the silo and an ignition source in the form of a grain dryer, an explosion was waiting to happen.

 

Ironically, it was the worker spraying water onto the fire that created the explosion by adding the last element: dispersal of the dust. Water hitting the dust added more air and also raised a cloud of dust. Dust suspended in the air turns the situation from a fire into an explosion. In this case it blew the roof off the silo and caused serious injuries.

Fish Meal Dust?

The second example is in some ways a classic industrial dust explosion, except that the material isn’t one you’d expect. In September, a seafood processing plant was seriously damaged and had to be shut down because of an explosion caused by the ignition of fish meal dust.

 

Fish meal is a fine, dry powder that’s often made into fish food. A local official noted that this is the third time he knows of that fish meal has caused an explosion at a local plant. In this case, a burst pipe may have created an explosion by causing dust to become airborne.

 

While people don’t think of fish as being explosive, they usually don’t think of metal as being explosive either. Both of them are only dangerous when they’re turned into a dust.

 

While we talk a lot about combustible metal dust and fumes because many of the industries we work with use metals, organic dusts like grain, spices, powdered milk and egg, sugar, tobacco, and yes, even fish are dangerously explosive if all the right elements are present.

 

While many places that produce metal dust are aware of the risks, some places that produce organic dust don’t realize how dangerous it can be, or how important a dust collection system is for controlling and handling dust. The most catastrophic damage is often done by secondary explosions: a small dust explosion causes accumulated dust to be dispersed in the air, causing a much larger explosion. Spraying water on a dust fire can do the same thing, sending dust into the air.

 

Removing dust from the facility and collecting it with a dust collection system designed to prevent or safely control explosions is an important safety strategy. Making sure there is no dust dispersed in the air is another key to explosion prevention. In any situation with combustible dust, the system needs to be equipped with safety features such as spark arrestors, explosion venting, and chemical suppressors.

 

 

http://www.ktoo.org/2016/09/20/explosion-westward-seafoods-sparks-police-investigation/

http://www.adn.com/alaska-news/rural-alaska/2016/09/21/official-blames-fish-meal-dust-in-100k-explosion-at-dutch-harbor-seafood-plant/

https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/5-2016_grain_fire_and_dust_explosion_in_silo.pdf

http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/10/safety-alert-issued-grain-fire-dust-explosion-silo/#.V_-WMugrKM-

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

Industrial Dust Control Solutions: Why It Matters

Whether you are a new manufacturing business or just branching out into new territory, if you are going to get into the metalworking field, addressing industrial dust control solutions demand some serious consideration. Not only do you have the safety of your work space to think about, but unchecked dust and fumes can also pose health hazards to those working in it. We’ve spent nearly 15 years considering the challenges of industrial dust accumulation and control, and we have developed the solutions our customers need.  Discover the facts you need about dust control for your business to keep things running safely and smoothly.

Meet Safety Standards

industrial dust control solutionsAn accumulation of dust in any industrial setting poses a threat to the health and safety of those working there.  This is especially true in the world of metalworking where the fine dust particles may be especially toxic.  In light of this threat, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards of safety that must be followed in any such industrial settings.  These address not only dust that may be inhaled but also the threat of combustibility through its accumulation.  Check out the latest combustible dust update HERE.  When you look for an industrial dust control system, begin by ensuring that it meets these and other industry standards.

Anticipate Dust And Fumes

As you consider a system to provide dust control for your work space, make sure you take fumes into account as well.  In many metalworking processes, noxious fumes are created which are more than unpleasant; they can be increasingly harmful when inhaled.  Not all industrial dust control systems are created to handle this dual threat, so it is vital to choose a collector that can manage both dust and fume generated by metalwork manufacturing.

Your Industrial Dust Control Solutions Experts

Whether you need dust and fume filtration or just a dust collection system, Imperial Systems is your industrial dust control headquarters. We manufacture the most efficient, strongest and longest-lasting systems and filters in the industry.  Through these products, we have become well known for our dedication to quality, value, and safety.  Our outstanding line of equipment includes:

  • CMAXX™ Dust Collector System
  • DeltaMAXX™ Cartridge Filters
  • CMAXX™ Laser Fume Extraction System
  • Spark Arrestor
  • Explosion Isolation Valve
  • Custom Ductwork & Fittings
  • Heavy Duty Abort Gates
  • and more!

Most of our products are available to ship within 24 hours.  For more information about our products and how we can support your metalworking business, contact us today.

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.

DUST CONTROL FAILURES: WHAT IS THE COST?

Ever wonder how much facilities like yours might be paying when they don’t have proper dust control?

Abrasive & Shot Blasting

When a facility doesn’t have proper dust control equipment installed, or when they fail to protect their workers from welding fumes or combustible dust, fines from OSHA may be in your future. Since March of 2016, numerous fines OSHA have been handed out for respiratory hazard violations:

  • A cement company in Ohio is looking at a $92,000 fine for violations that include silica dust exposure
  • A company’s abrasive blasting process without proper air filtration resulted in a $121,000 fine for exposing workers to airborne lead
  • Fines for a power equipment manufacturer may total $77,000 for violations including failure to evaluate dust hazards
  • A pallet manufacturer is facing $152,000 in fines for safety hazards including combustible dust build-up
  • Exposing workers to lead and cadmium dust at seven times the permissible limit will cost a Pennsylvania foundry $42,000
  • A minerals company that failed to provide proper air quality and dust control exposed workers to lead and arsenic, which may cost them $106,000

READ THE OSHA PRESS RELEASE HERE

Is your dust collection system ensuring you don’t face these kinds of fines? Imperial Systems can help! Our custom-designed dust control systems will help keep your facility and your employees safe.  Call one of our knowledgeable team members today to learn more! 800-918-3013.