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Agricultural Dust Explosions

Grain dust explosion prevention: Grain dust explosions are a hazard faced by any industry handling grain-based materials. Our research has shown that grain dust explosions have been occurring at a constant rate in the US over the past decade. We conduct hazard awareness and safety training amongst workers in grain elevators, feed mills, and grain processors. 

Fig: Grain dust explosion pentagon. Eliminating one factor could avoid a major dust explosion

Grain dust explosion incidents in the U.S.: Our group has been involved in collecting data related to grain dust explosions in the US since 2012. This initiative is supported by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).



Fig: Left: Grain dust explosions in the U.S.; Right: Number of explosions (by month)

Table: Probable ignition sources (data from 2006-2014: Source: Sanghi and Ambrose, JASH, 2016)
Ignition source Number of incidents % of incidents
Unknown 57 67.8
Fire 5 6.0
Welding 3 3.6
Friction sparks 3 3.6
Malfunctioning mechanical components 2 2.4
Smoldering material 2 2.4
Overheated bearing 2 2.4
Spark from electrical equipment 2 2.4
Exposed light fixture 2 2.4
Spark in dust collection unit 1 1.2
Spark in dryer 1 1.2
Dust collector malfunction 1 1.2
Malfunctioning pulley 1 1.2
Lightning strike 1 1.2
Structural collapse 1 1.2
Total 84 100.00


Grain Dust Explosion Incidents in the U.S.

OSHA Safety and Health topics, combustible dust:

OSHA Safety and Health topics, grain handling:

Probable Ignition Sources

Dust Explosions Web App