Last May, an explosion rocked the Didion Milling facility in Cambria, Wisconsin. It killed five workers and hurt 14 others, with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening, and the incident being one of the worst combustible dust explosions since the deadly Imperial Sugar blast 10 years ago this year. The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has been investigating the scene of the accident since then, and recently offered up an update on their findings. In it, they confirmed previous suspicions by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that the cause of the explosion was due to a build-up of combustible grain dust throughout the facility compacted by a negligence to properly remove hazardous materials from ignition sources.
Didion had been on OSHA’s radar for years. In November 2017, the organization fined the milling company a record $1.8 million for their failure to improve upon 14 “willful” violations, five serious citations, and even placing them on the organization’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program after being handed these warnings to correct combustible grain dust levels inside their facility. Had Didion taken these warnings and citations seriously by eliminating dust hazards alongside investing in simple and safe housekeeping equipment, the loss of human lives and the ensuing legal matters that the facility is now facing may have just as easily been prevented altogether.
By using an industrial vacuum cleaner that is designed specifically for eliminating combustible dust fines, companies are not only investing in their businesses, but their workers’ safety as well. With an Ruwac industrial vacuum cleaner in particular, they’re making a concentrated effort to choose a cost-effective dust collecting solution whose reputation for reliability and safety compliance is unparalleled across the market. These vacuums are OSHA compliant and certified explosion proof. Ruwac’s line of grain dust vacuums also meet NFPA requirements of being less than 8 cubic feet and using hose lengths of 25 feet maximum for indoor use.
A large part of what makes Ruwac a leader in combustible dust safety is in how it builds its machines. Made in the USA, Ruwac’s industrial vacuums for grain dust are made from the most durable materials that provide a long life of usage while adhering to safety compliance through a fully grounded design. Their carbon impregnated housing is chemically neutral and static dissipating (<10-6 Ohms) to eliminate static discharge, and will never dent, break or rust. At the center of these vacuums are their industry-leading anti-static MicroClean filtration. These filters use a specialized pleated design that prevents clogging and are easy to maintain. A manual shaker system prevents operators from coming into contact with materials, and with models available up to 500 CFM, these vacuums supersede the rest in their powerful performance.
Horrific incidents like those which took place at Didion Milling last year or at the Imperial Sugar refinery a decade earlier should not continue happening based on all of the information and technology available to eliminate combustible dust hazards. Ultimately, safety’s burden falls onto the shoulders of these food and grain manufacturers to understand the severity of their dust and the volatile dangers they create when left to build without proper housekeeping and maintenance. By entrusting in the guidance of OSHA and the NFPA, these companies can foster a safer work environment for employers and their business’ future, and in relying on Ruwac for their explosion-proof vacuum needs, they are taking a huge step forward toward preventing the next combustible dust accident.