SonicAire COO and dust safety expert Jordan Newton is interviewed in this podcast and answers the following questions:
Facilities that have an awareness of combustible dust hazards typically address the problem manually. Sometimes they use a Class 2 certified vacuum, which is appropriate, but Jordan said he has seen people using a blowdown method.
“I’ve even been in wood plants where I’ve seen people using backpack-style gas-powered, leaf blowers to blowdown dust. And that’s a scary place to be. You can eliminate that kind of stuff going on in the overhead spaces with the overhead oscillating fans.”
He pointed out that when a vacuum or blowdown method is being used, a person has to get close to the dust to dislodge it. This involves ladders, lifts and scaffolding. Employees have to come in on weekends to do cleaning (and be paid overtime) or the plant has to be shut down temporarily for cleaning. Regardless of how it’s done, the process is expensive and cumbersome.
“We’re trying to help facilities eliminate (dust from) these overhead spaces,” Jordan said. “So that’s where the fans come into play…. We’ve talked to a lot of folks recently who were referred by their insurance company to come talk to us because their insurers told them, clean up your dust or we’re not going to continue to cover you.”
Jordan recommends that all facilities get into compliance by doing DHAs. Sweep dust off the floor, clean it off the equipment, and keep it out of overhead spaces. Too many workers have assumed that they have a clean plant, only to find out otherwise in a catastrophic manner.
“My advice to the listeners would be to not assume that you’re clean enough and that you don’t have a safety hazard hiding in your overhead area. Do an inspection, see what’s up there. Don’t let ‘out of sight, out of mind’ happen to you.”
SonicAire fans act as an air curtain to prevent the dust from settling or accumulating overhead.
Jordan explains that SonicAire works with customers to design a solution that works for the end-user. This includes taking the following factors into account:
“We’re just looking at everything holistically and making sure the solution works with the process, works with the people in the area.”
Jordan is interviewed by Dr. Chris Cloney (PEng.), managing director and lead researcher at DustEx Research and founder of the Dust Safety Science resource website. Jordan is a featured speaker at the upcoming Digital Dust Safety Conference. His presentation, “Using Fan Systems to Control Fugitive Dust Accumulation,” will address how overhead fan systems prevent combustible dust from settling out on equipment, rafters and overhead structures in processing operations.