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5 Common Causes Of Industrial Explosions

Posted on September 2, 2021 in

Despite stringent state and federal regulations geared towards safety in industrial settings, explosions still occur. Many industries across this country use equipment and materials that could explode and lead to severe injuries or property damage. Here, we want to discuss the five most common causes of industrial explosions. When you understand how these explosions happen, you can begin to take the steps, as either an employer or an employee, to maintain a safe working environment for yourself and your coworkers.

The Statistics Surrounding Industrial Explosions

When we look at recent statistics available from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), we can see that:

  • There are around 37,000 fires that occur each year in industrial and manufacturing properties across the country.
  • These incidents result in around:
    • 18 annual fatalities
    • 280 annual injuries
    • Around $1 billion in direct property damage

1. Combustible Dust

Dust can be incredibly harmful, even though this is often an overlooked cause of explosions. Combustible dust can be a cause of fires in woodworking, chemical manufacturing, metalworking, pharmaceutical, and food manufacturing industries. Just about anything that is produced can leave some sort of combustible dust as a result of the manufacturing process.

Unfortunately, combustible dust fires are not easy to contain, and a small fire will often result in incombustible material coming into contact with a larger ignition source.

2. Hot Work Environment

Hot work is a leading cause of industrial fires across every industry. As one would expect, working around hot tools and equipment can cause fires that lead to ignition sources and explosions. Some of the most common activities that pose a fire hazard include burning, soldering, heating, and brazing. These materials/activities can spark molten material that reaches temperatures above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can travel fairly long distances inside of a work area.

3. Flammable Liquids or Gases

Flammable gases and liquids are used in the production of various items, so we regularly see these materials used in chemical plants and in the pharmaceutical industry. Some types of flammable materials that are regularly used that can cause major fires and explosions include crude oil, acrylic acid, and even rocket fuel.

4. Equipment and Machinery Failures

Even if workers in an industry follow all of the safety measures necessary to contain flammable materials, faulty equipment or machinery could still lead to dangerous fires or explosions. Typically, hot work environments are the biggest problem when it comes to equipment and machinery failure, particularly if furnaces are not properly installed, operated, or maintained.

In addition, any type of mechanical equipment can become a fire hazard because of the friction of moving parts. If a faulty or defective machine ends up around any type of combustible material or ignition source, an explosion could occur.

5. Electrical Hazards

Electrical fires are one of the leading causes of fires at industrial plants throughout the country. There are a wide variety of ways that electrical hazards can arise, including:

  • Wiring that is exposed or not up to code
  • The use of extension cords
  • Overloaded circuits
  • Overloaded outlets
  • Static discharge

Any fire or spark caused by an electrical hazard could quickly become a major problem if there is flammable material or an ignition source nearby.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an industrial explosion, the Houston explosion accident attorneys at The Doan Law Firm are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.