Conducting Process Hazard Analyses for Dust-Handling Operations

Use this checklist-based technique of process hazard analysis (PHA) to identify and assess potential dust hazards and to evaluate safeguards that can mitigate risks.

Techniques for managing risk associated with dust explosions continue to evolve. The most important trend is the use of a formal process hazard analysis (PHA) to identify hazards and ways to reduce and/or eliminate them. The most recent trend is the use of a formal process hazard analysis (PHA) to identify hazards and ways to reduce and / or eliminate them. PHAs use structured brainstorming technique to pinpoint weaknesses in the design and operation of facilities that could lead to accidents; most PHAs include evaluations of the risks associated with the hazards identified. 

Process hazard analysis is a universally accepted technique. For more than a decade, U.S. OSHA PSM and EPA RMP regulations required PHAs for processes that handle highly hazardous chemicals, such as flammable liquids, chlorine, ethylene oxide. Recent standards, such as NFPA 654, now require that PHAs be conducted for processes handling powders and bulk solids that present a fire or explosion hazard.

Much guidance is available on the steps involved in conducting PHAs. For instance, Ref. 2 discusses the general subject of hazard analysis and provides a guide to various hazard analysis techniques. This article explains the critical steps in applying PHA to dust handling operations: compiling PSI, establishing a PHA team; preparing a PHA checklist; conducting the PHA, including identifying the method of explosion protection; and following up on any recommendations generated by the PHA team.

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