Combustible dust incidents worldwide in 2020
For the fifth year in a row, the Dust Safety Science team has compiled and analyzed combustible dust incidents around the world. As of December 31, 2020, we recorded nearly 1,000 incidents in our incident reports as well as a detailed analysis of the materials, industries and equipment involved.
Dust Safety Science consolidates its reports twice a year, and this most recent report includes all the incidents we captured from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. These are broken down into fires and explosions occurring both in America North and around the world. .
The following table compares the number of incidents, injuries and fatalities entered into the database since we started recording.
Loss History – United States
The history of dust explosion losses in the United States over the past five years is shown in the following table. These data were collected in the incident database and reported in the combustible dust incident reports, from 2016 to 2020.
These data give an average of 31.8 dust explosions per year, 29 injuries and 2.6 deaths over the past four years. Note that dust fires are excluded from this analysis.
Overview of global losses 2020
In 2020, 70% of recorded deaths are due to dust explosions. Of the injuries, 73 percent are due to explosions and 27 percent are due to fires.
Some of the more serious incidents include:
Limited information was available for damage caused by dust explosions and fires. According to the information available, the following incidents resulted in losses of more than $ 1,000,000:
Looking at global incident data, food and wood products accounted for over 75% of recorded fires and combustible dust explosions.
These materials also caused 57 percent of injuries and 40 percent of deaths. The distribution of fires, explosions, injuries and deaths for each type of material is given as follows:
The only death from metal dust and two injuries involved an aluminum alkyl, while three of the injuries involved titanium. The remaining metal dust injuries involved four incidents where the type of metal was not specified.
Two deaths occurred in an explosion where unspecified raw materials were added to a reactor, one death occurred when unspecified chemicals crashed into a tank, four deaths occurred in an explosion of dried sludge and one occurred in a bleach powder dryer explosion.
As historical data show, wood processing, wood products, agricultural activity and food production account for a large part of all fires and explosions. Since 2017, wood and wood products have accounted for 21-28% of incidents, while agricultural activity and food production have ranged from 33 to 44%.
As the detailed breakdown of incidents shows, the “other” category includes pulp and paper, high schools and educational institutions. Industries not broken down in the detailed breakdown include incidents in metal recycling, rail maintenance, display manufacturing, jewelry, surfactant manufacturing, plastic bottle manufacturing, chemical processing, production of phosphate, waste treatment, manufacturing of composites and textiles.
Together, the aggregate category of “other” industries accounts for 28% of injuries and 50% of reported fatalities in 2020. Wood and wood products, agriculture and food processing, and automotive and metallurgy account for 19%, 43 percent and eight percent injuries, respectively. Wood and wood products, as well as agriculture and food processing account for 30% and 20% of deaths, respectively.
Equipment and causes
In 2020, storage silos had the highest percentage of combustible dust incidents with 30 reported fires and 13 explosions. This is a higher percentage than the 2017 and 2018 reports, which found that dust collection systems had the highest percentage of incidents. In 2020, only 13% of fires and explosions occurred in dust collection systems.
As demonstrated in previous reports, storage silos recorded the highest number of injuries. This is followed by other warehouses (eg, small bins, hoppers and storage buildings), dust collection systems, dryers and elevators. The breakdown between fires, explosions, injuries and deaths for the different equipment is summarized in the following table for 2020:
Although equipment labeled under “Other” accounted for only 13 percent of the total incidents, these incidents resulted in 22 percent of injuries and 30 percent of fatalities. Some of these included a spark that ignited varnish fumes and sawdust during maintenance of a coloring machine, an explosion and fire in the ducts and grinder of a manufacturing process. granules, an explosion of a combination of titanium and calcium powder in a chemical processing unit, a dust fire and a dust explosion when using a welding machine in a dusty area, an explosion in a raw material feed tank in a reactor and an explosion in a plastic extrusion system.
For more information or to download a copy of the report, visit www.dustsafetyscience.com/2020-report.
Content for incident reports is generated using press articles and publicly available resources. The data is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional advice. Due to reliance on third-party news agencies, incomplete articles, and limited analytical methods, DustEx Research Ltd. and its subsidiary Dust Safety Science make no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided.