Industrial Dust Powder

British Columbia’s workplace regulatory body, WorkSafeBC, fined West Fraser Mills, a wood product firm that operates in both the United States and in Canada, $115,000 for having combustible dust present at several of their locations. Inspectors noticed the potentially combustible wood dust around several electrical fixtures, appliances, motors, and moving machinery parts. The flammable dust is supposed to be collected and cleaned up in the locations in which it’s produced. Places with heat and electricity become safety hazards quickly when the dust is not taken care of properly.

Key Takeaways:

  • West Fraser Mills was issued a hefty fine for letting wood dust accumulate in their warehouses.
  • Fine wood dust comes from milling different wood products and can build up in several places.
  • Fine would dust is susceptible to catching on fire and would not need much to get it started.

“British Columbia’s occupational safety regulator, WorkSafeBC, issued a CAD$150,000 (about $114,000) fine to wood products firm West Fraser Mills this November for accumulations of combustible dust in several buildings at its Quesnel, BC manufacturing site.”

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An image of a baghouse filter that's been damaged by fire.
An image of the worn-out cuff of a baghouse filter

The regular operational life of a baghouse filter can be shortened by a number of factors. In this article we will discuss the top 4 reasons:

  1. Abrasion
  2. Exceeding Maximum Operating Temperature
  3. Chemical Attack
  4. Fire

1. Abrasion

The deterioration of filter bags through abrasion can be a result of a number of causes.  It can be caused by bags physically rubbing against each other, from the type of cleaning mechanism used or from where the dust enters the bag and impacts the fabric. The most common is caused by excessive particulate loads in the gas stream. Poor inlet design may lead to particulate laden air striking the filters in certain spots more than others such as near the bottom cuff, or strike the filters closest to the dirty-air inlet. In shaker baghouses, bags can deteriorate prematurely due to vigorous shaking particularly at points where the bags are attached. In pulse jet baghouses  the repeated rubbing of the bags against the support cages (especially if the cages are bent or rusty) can considerably shorten the working life of the baghouse filter. This is usually the case when the filters are not sized properly to the cage (otherwise known as the correct amount of “pinch”). 

“A properly designed, installed and maintained system can go a long way in preventing premature baghouse filter failure…”

2. Exceeding Maximum Operating Temperature

An image of dust that's collecting inside of a baghouse
Is your baghouse building up dust?

Baghouse filters are manufactured using various materials depending on the application they are being used for. These materials have different thermal durability, that is the upper temperature limit of the fabric. Thermal durability may also be a potential cause of early failure. When operating temperatures rise above the designed limits of the fabric, whether for short spikes or longer overages, filters will begin to degrade and eventually fail. This may be a sudden failure such as the filters melting or catching fire or it could result in less obvious damage that causes the bags to become brittle. Changes in the plant process, fuel source, maintenance shutdowns of other systems, etc., may result in temperature spikes that will irreparably damage the filters. 

3. Chemical Attack

Baghouse filter failure can also occur from a chemical attack. In its simplest form, this can be caused by using the wrong fabric for the chemical makeup of the gas stream. If gas stream characteristics are not taken into consideration when selecting the filter fabric and/or treatments/finishes, chemical attack can cause considerable damage to the baghouse filter.  Other times unexpected changes occur in the gas stream that can cause changes in the composition of the gas. For example, operating temperatures may drop below the dew point allowing chemicals in the gas stream to condense on the filters. This can have a dramatic effect on the life span of a baghouse filter, therefore proper fabric selection and maintain tight control over the process operating conditions and procedures can help eliminate bag deterioration caused by chemical attack.

4. Fire

An image of a baghouse filter that's been damaged by fire.
A dust collection filter damaged from fire.

Premature baghouse filter failure can also be caused by fire. This could range from a relatively mild occurrence to a far more serious event. A minor event could be caused by an ember or a spark entering the baghouse system. The ignition source can then be drawn through baghouse system and make make its way to the surface of the filter causing a hole to be burnt in the bag or for it to catch fire.

Additionally, if the dust collection system is not working properly dust accumulations may form that can then provide fuel for a potential fire or explosion. If then a spark or ember enters the system this built up dust can ignite causing a fire, which can then be dragged through the entire system causing a serious or even catastrophic conflagration. This often happens when a system is choked off with high pressure drop (differential pressure) across the filters or when the dust discharge system (baghouse airlock and any connected screw/pneumatic conveyors downstream) do not remove the dust from the baghouse quickly enough.


A properly designed, installed and maintained system can go a long way in preventing premature baghouse filter failure. Following a regular preventative maintenance provided by a reputable dust collector OEM like can keep your system in good working order. At times a dye leak test among other things can help technicians identify the exact cause of early filter failure.

Further Information 

For further information on baghouse filter failures, please see additional article on lesser known reasons of baghouse filter failures.

Need Help Ordering Baghouse Filters?

Whether you know exactly what you want or could use some help getting the right dust collection filter, we’ll put together a free quote with the perfect filter for you.

An image of an industrial facility before its dust collector caught fire

According to local media, a dust collector at the Innotec LED factory briefly caught fire at 11:30 in the morning on 7 May. Five fire trucks were dispatched to the Zeeland, Michigan manufacturing facility. All ten of the Innotec workers present at the time were able to evacuate safely, and the blaze was suppressed in under ten minutes. Innotec, a company founded in the early nineties in Hudsonville, Michigan, is a producer of LED lighting used for heavy machinery, automotive uses and other applications.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Innotec Plant experienced a fire, fortunately without loss of life, on Tuesday, the 7th of May.
  • The Zeeland Plant fire in MI, on West Washington, was reported on by the Holland Sentinel.
  • The blaze ignited around 11:30 AM, followed by the safe evacuation of about ten workers on site.

“During that incident, flames were contained to the building where the dust collector was located and no one was hurt.”

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An image of smoke bellowing out of an industrial smoke stack

Changes to Texas’ clean air plan has now been approved by the EPA. The clean air plan serves to improve the regulation of storage tanks and also give reasonable control for technology that serves to guide the regulation of emissions that go to the ozone layer. This move would help the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area to enhance the quality of its air and to better attain the 2008 ozone standard that was set. The state of Texas is committed to improving the ozone layer and makings its air cleaner, a spokesperson for the state says, because this would help communities that are living in the state. In the 2008 ozone standard, the area under consideration was analyzed as a moderate non-attainable classification from a marginal non-attainable classification. Therefore, the EPA has now shown that is it approving Texas’ plans to regulate the emission of volatile organic compounds from storage tanks. It was determined by the EPA that this new move will work with the state’s already existing regulations on volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide. This is important because these two compounds, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide, react in the presence of sunlight to produce ozone pollution at the ground level that harms the quality of the air. Next, some background on ozone pollution and air quality is analyzed.

Key Takeaways:

  • The State of Texas’ clean air plan has now been approved by the EPA and this encompasses improving the regulation of storage tanks.
  • Texas, according to the spokesperson, is showing a commitment to improving the air quality of its area for its citizens by reducing ozone emissions.
  • When there is ozone in the air that we breathe, our health is compromised and this is more dangerous for children and the elderly.

“The agency said the changes will help the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area move toward better air quality and attainment of the 2008 ozone standard.”

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Welding Dust Collectors

There are several methods of joining metals today but the most common is welding. During welding, two metals are joined together or fused using heat, pressure, or even both techniques. This produces a final joint that could be as strong as or even stronger than the two metals from which it was produced. Some of the potential hazards in welding that the author states are harmful dust, heat, smoke, fumes, and light radiation that is injurious. The smoke produced by welding can be toxic in itself since they are gases. The heat that is generated by the welding activity can result in burns when it comes in contact with the skin some of which are eye injuries when pieces of chips that are hot come in contact with the eye. Even the light that is emitted during welding can cause damage if the eye is not protected. Added to this is the danger of one getting electrocuted during the welding activity. The NIOSH has established a hierarchy of hazard controls which has become the widely accepted industry standard for determining the feasibility and potential causes of injuries and hazards during a welding operation. The five levels of the hierarchy are next discussed in the blog.

Key Takeaways:

  • Welders are at a high risk of eye injures from the hot slag and metal chips.
  • Wearing a welding helmet with filter plates will help protect you from rays and weld sparks.
  • Adequate ventilation is crucial to keep welders from inhaling too many airborne contaminants.

“Impact, penetration, harmful dust, smoke, fumes, heat and injurious light radiation are all potential hazards associated with welding. Welding “smoke” is a mixture of very fine particles (fumes) and gases.”

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Wood Dust from Pallets

A pallet maker based in Wisconsin has had another citation from the OSHA after some investigation reveals that it has continuously been exposing its workers to wood dust. The penalties that Avid Pallet Services LLC will face are to the tune of $188,302 for serious violations that are repeated related to safety and health of its workers. When inspectors checked the company’s premises, they determined that the company did not implement or failed totally to implement engineering controls that would reduce the exposure of its employees to wood dust, and was failing in its ability to train its employees on the health hazard of wood dust. But this citation is not the first for Avid Pallet Services. It has been cited before by the OSHA in 2016. It was reported that the company was not transparent in its treatment of its employments when it comes to workplace hazards. The OSHA director states that it regularly informs employers that they have to make employees aware of the health hazards related to their work and to manage it well. On a contrasting note, the author notes that Avid Pallet states that transparency and integrity is one of its guiding principles. This was also stated on their website.

Key Takeaways:

  • OSHA carries out several inspections on factories and it has found out that a pallet maker exposes its workers to wood dust.
  • The fault of the Wisconsin pallet manufacturer is that they failed to implement sufficient engineering controls that would be able to limit workers’ exposure to dust.
  • Employers of all categories, according to the OSHA, should make sure that employees are not exposed to dust of any kind and should protect employees from hazards.

“Avid Pallet Services LLC faces penalties of $188,302 for repeated, serious, and other-than-serious safety and health violations.”

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On November 5-8, 2019, there will be an A+A International conference that will be held in Dusseldorf, Germany, on Safety, Security, and Health. Mess Dusseldorf has been responsible for the A+A Conference and the man in charge of affairs is Wolfram Diener who has been the Managing director of the agency since October 2018. From the interview held with him, one can see that Diener is super excited and enthusiastic about his new job. He considers this conference a challenge after successful fairs in other places and even in Asia. His company, Messe Dusseldorf, is seen as a robust and successful company in hosting trade fairs in Germany. When asked about the response to the fair from companies so far, Diener states that the response has been great. There has been considerable interest shown in the fair both from companies that have participated before and from new companies. To accommodate all companies, the space for the fair has been expanded. Additional capacities in the areas of health at Work, Operational Safety, and Corporate Fashion have been added. Diener goes on during the interview to demonstrate the arrangements that have been put in place for the fair.

Key Takeaways:

  • Diener has been planning the hall for the A+A 2019 event for a long time and he says that the planning has been great.
  • The response from companies about the A+A event has been great and many that were there before want to come again.
  • The space at the event has been expanded due to the overwhelming response and three areas have been added such as Health at Work and Operational Safety.

“Since October 1, 2018, Wolfram Diener has been the new Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf and responsible for A+A. Diener is enthusiastic about his new job: “After many exciting and successful years with various trade fair companies, and quite some time in Asia, I am now facing the next challenge – and this challenge will be more than the bandwidth of my trade fair portfolio in Düsseldorf.”

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industrial dust monitor

Depending on one’s place of employment, the particles that can be found in dust often contain harmful materials that can result in dangerous situations, some of these situations being fatal. Since these hazardous conditions can be hard to detect with the human eye, many companies are now employing real-time monitors that have the ability to detect any harmful particles so that they are addressed before it develops into a bigger issue where someone is potentially put in harm’s way.

Key Takeaways:

  • The new Trolex dust monitor beats conventional dust monitors, which are designed to measure a single size particulate at a time.
  • With its new, cutting-edge laser technology, the Trolex dust monitor can monitor multiple sizes at once.
  • The new Trolex Air XD is also cost-effective, as it requires less routine maintenance, which brings down the overall cost of ownership.

“The real-time application also allows companies to use live data to identify specific trends and peak levels of risk.”

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Gas Plant Explosion

In July of 2016, the mismanagement of a heat exchanger led to an extensive series of explosions that resulted in damaging forest fires in Mississippi. The mismanagement was a result of Enterprise Products Pascagoula Gas Plant allowing the equipment to experience too much thermal fatigue. If there had been more extensive safety measures and inspection protocols set in place, these disastrous results may not have occurred, saving a plethora of vegetation and clean up funds.

Key Takeaways:

    • As regards a Mississippi gas leak explosion, a February 12 report points to thermal fatigue as the culprit.
    • Thermal fatigue refers to the weakening of materials over time, due to the stress of heating and cooling.
    • Upon inspection, it was clear that small cracks had arisen over time, due to temperature fluctuations.

“The plant – which had repaired four heat exchangers nine times in 17 years, CSB found – was shut down for nearly six months.”

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A proper strategy when managing an industry is key to it’s success and flourish. Bringing employees to think and operate on a similar level is not an easy task, especially when management teams aren’t well equipped to get employees to think and work on a justly productive level. Steps to ensure an industry’s success are outlined with specific examples that pertain to management teams and individuals all the same.

Key Takeaways:

  • Global business demands delivery of production requirements as needed, without sacrificing the best performance obtainable.
  • Often there’s a disconnect between asset-strategic vision, which is viewed from a long-term perspective, and the planning and execution of activities, generally conceived as short-range goals.
  • Separating strategic goals from planning and execution goals creates a missed opportunity to align and manage initiatives between important disciplines, like health, safety and maintenance.

“To be successful, an organization must integrate all the elements that drive optimal asset performance.”