Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) - Dust


The most commonly hazard with grain handling is grain dust. Grain dust is a respiratory irritant and a fire and explosion hazard. It can also make allergic reactions for some people. When fine dust particles catch fire while suspended in the air, known as deflagration, fire can spread quickly and could lead to an explosion.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) or containing silicon dioxide is commonly used as a beer filtering agent. It’s hazardous if inhaled because it contains high concentrations of crystalline silica.  DE exposure can irritate the lungs and eyes. Prolonged exposure has been linked to severe respiratory problems, such as silicosis and lung cancer.

Risk Control

Reduce or minimize the risk of injury by following these guidelines:

  1. Do thorough and regular housekeeping in your grain storage, milling, and conveying areas. Clean up immediately if dust accumulates to 3 mm (⅛ in.).
  2. Enclose the grain mill and storage areas properly, if possible. This prevents contact with ignition sources and keeps dust from spreading to other areas.
  3. Don’t use compressed air to clean grain dust. Use an intrinsically safe (non-sparking) HEPA vacuum and wet mops for cleanup.
  4. Use only non-sparking or intrinsically safe equipment for grain milling and conveyance.
  5. Don’t do hot work or open-flame work, such as welding, in grain storage areas without taking proper precautions. Use a hot-work permit to identify hazards. Make sure you control the hazards before starting the task.
  6. Use a recommended respirator while unloading grain and cleaning. Even if the grain dust is below the exposure limit, the respirator will provide workers with protection. You may need help from a qualified occupational hygienist who has the knowledge and experience to select the right equipment.
  7. Implement safe work procedures to minimize the spread of dust when loading mill hoppers and disposing of used grain bags. Make wet empty bags to prevent dust from spreading. If possible, replace DE with another filtration system.
  8. If you use Diatomaceous earth (DE), ensure workers know the hazards and safe work procedures to minimize exposure. DE typically comes in large paper bags. Workers may be exposed when working with or near the bags (for example, when folding or collapsing them) or during spill cleanup.
  9. Wear a fitted respirator while handling DE. Workers must be clean shaven for respirator masks to be effective, although there are other types of respirators available for bearded workers.

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