The holidays are approaching and facilities managers may need to juggle holiday staffing schedules as employees request time off to be with their families. Caloris has seen a history of increased safety related events during this critical time. We offer the following advice for preventing situations that could lead to the possibility for fires/explosions in your dryer systems when your regular staff are not present.
Spray dryers have all the conditions needed for a process fire or explosion to take place — oxygen and fuel — just an ignition source is needed. This is a great time to refocus on safety. Keep people focused on safety and stay vigilant during these holiday times, which are made even more challenging this year with Covid protocols. There is a greater prevalence of upset conditions leading to fires and explosions this time of year.
“I’ve seen it over the years that more fires and explosions or events happen during the holidays,” says Jim Kent, Caloris Business Development Manager and leading spray drying expert.
First-shift operators often take dibs on holiday leave, meaning that operators with potentially less experience with the dryer equipment may be present in the facility during the holidays.
Keep eyes on the plant regularly so that potential problems don’t become surprises. Keep training and awareness up — offer some refreshers before the holidays hit. The lead-up to the holidays are a great time to deliver and re-enforce dryer training, especially dryer safety training. An inspection and possible test of the safety features of your spray dryer might also be timely.
In Jim’s industry experience, spray nozzles are the culprit behind 90% of dryer incidents. Inspect the nozzles. Replace worn parts when appropriate. Ask the manufacturer if you don’t know the replacement protocols. Have enough spares on hand. And make sure the operators know to check them for leaking and improper assembly.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards guide the operation of spray dryers, especially the NEW NFPA 652 Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust. It wouldn’t hurt to have a copy available for your plant engineer to consult. Be aware that if your dryer is older, it may have been designed before these standards were in place. If you are unsure about the history of your dryer design and would like a consultation with one of our engineers to point out potential issues, contact us.
Stay tuned for our next blog, which will go more in-depth on the topic of dryer safety, including maintenance of safety systems, housekeeping and more. Watch our previously recorded webinar on Spray Dryer Safety here.
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