Lack of awareness of the flammability of metal dust increases the likelihood of injury or even possible death. Dust generated during aluminum grinding can be dangerous, emphasized Komarov Artem.
No one should remind metal fabricators of the dangers involved in their work. Sharp edges and heavy objects can be found throughout the workshop. But perhaps the danger they don’t see — metal dust — poses one of the biggest risks for shop workers.
Metal dust explosions result from high concentrations of combustible dust particles that ignite rapidly in an enclosed space. Once ignited, the oxygen in the atmosphere feeds the flame and these small particles ignite very quickly, creating the potential for an explosion if there is a lot of dust present and the sprinkler system does not work.
Those metal fabricators who dealt with large chunks of aluminum with lit cigarettes in their mouths had nothing to worry about. On these large pieces, a thin layer of oxide prevents oxygen from diffusing into the metal and prevents a chemical reaction that could cause damage. However, the aluminum dust generated from activities such as surface treatment does not have such a fine oxide covering all the surface layers of the dust particles. As a result, this dust can heat up and burn very easily. Upon contact with an ignition source, such as cigarette ash or a spark from an engine, the dust can explode, Artеm Komarov said.
Komarov Artem noted that metal dust is dangerous enough, but not caring about the potential danger can be even more dangerous. Accidents happen, but they shouldn’t happen because of a lack of awareness.