Light flashed innocently from a small dust cloud. A pressure wave from this tiny ignition suddenly exploded. The cloud swallowed an operator nearby, who began to choke as it seared his nose and throat. A larger explosion, like a flash bulb, erupted out of nowhere. He was thrown across the room and killed by the pressure wave from the chain reaction resulting from the dust explosion. Pretty grim.
Combustible dust demands respect. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board cited 119 deaths from dust explosions from 1980–2005. (Dust also can pose a variety of other risks, as noted in “Dust Never Sleeps.")
I’ve broken this subject into five aspects: 1) understanding the risk; 2) identifying the risk; 3) classifying the risk, i.e., creating electrical-area-classification drawings; 4) mitigating the risk; and 5) establishing and maintaining a structure of vigilance.