How to Prevent a Combustible Dust Explosion: The Five Core Elements

How to Prevent a Combustible Dust Explosion: The Five Core Elements


Combustible dust explosions are a serious hazard in many industries.

A combustible dust explosion is a rapid and intense fire that is caused by the ignition of combustible dust particles in an enclosed environment.

Explosions can be disastrous to you, your employees, and your business – both structurally and financially. From lawsuits to death, combustible dust explosions are not to be taken lightly.

There are five core elements that contribute to a combustible dust explosion. These are:


  • Combustible dust
  • Distribution of dust particles
  • Confined dust cloud
  • Oxygen
  • Ignition source


In this blog post, we will discuss each of these elements and how you can prevent a combustible dust explosion from happening in your workplace.

Combustible Dust

Combustible Dust

Combustible dust is a major contributor to explosions in the workplace.

Combustible dust is a collection of minuscule particles that have a high risk of ignition when combined with oxygen and an ignition source.

It is important to ensure that all areas where combustible dust may accumulate are cleaned regularly and properly.

Granulates, wood fibre, sawdust, powdered food ingredients, animal feed, metals, rubber, and plastic can call produce combustible dust so chances are, your work premise would constitute an ATEX zone.

In order to prevent a build-up of dust, the premise’s floors, walls, ceilings, equipment, and anything else that may be a potential source of dust must be cleaned regularly and thoroughly.

In addition, workers should always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when working in areas where combustible dust may be present.


Distribution of Dust Particles

The distribution of dust particles is another important factor to consider when preventing a combustible dust explosion.

If the dust particles are evenly distributed, the explosion will be more severe.

Dust particles can become evenly distributed in a number of ways.

One way is through the air handling system. If the dust particles are not properly filtered, they can be blown throughout the facility.

Another way dust particles can become evenly distributed is through the use of equipment such as grinders, mixers, and conveyors.

If these pieces of equipment are not properly maintained, the dust particles can be blown into the air and spread throughout the facility.

It is therefore important to take steps to prevent the accumulation of dust and its distribution by using ATEX certified specialist cleaning equipment.


Confined Dust Cloud

The confined dust cloud is another key factor in combustible dust explosions.

A confined dust cloud will increase the intensity of the explosion.

Confined dust clouds are created when there is poor ventilation in an environment filled with dust.

It is therefore important to ensure that there is enough ventilation in areas where combustible dust may be present.

However, not all work premises can have a ventilation system installed and so, it is crucial to use an ATEX cleaning vacuum to remove any dust clouds regularly.



Oxygen is also necessary for a combustible dust explosion to occur.

The concentration of oxygen in the air must be at least 16% for an explosion to occur.

It’s critical to take precautions to prevent combustible dust from accumulating in places where it may come into contact with high levels of oxygen.

Since oxygen is necessary for breathing, you must remove dust build-up rather than oxygen, with ATEX cleaning equipment.


Ignition Source

Finally, the ignition source is the final necessary requirement for a combustible dust explosion to occur.

Any spark or heat source can potentially ignite the dust and cause an explosion.

Examples of ignition sources in the workplace include:

– open flames

– sparks/embers from welding

– hot surfaces

– cigarettes

– static electricity

Most cleaning equipment that isn’t ATEX approved has the potential of causing a spark so it’s crucial to only use equipment specifically made for ATEX zones.

To prevent an explosion, it is important to take steps to eliminate all potential ignition sources.

In conclusion, understanding the five core elements that contribute to a combustible dust explosion is essential for preventing such an event from happening in your workplace.

By following the safety precautions listed above, you can help ensure a safe and healthy work environment for you and your colleagues.

ATEX Premier Cleaning

ATEX Premier Cleaning

The easiest method to prevent these five key elements from combining to form an explosion is by removing dust from the word premise.

ATEX zones need regular and thorough deep cleaning throughout the whole area as we can see that something as minuscule as dust can cause an explosion.

Our cleaning vacuums are made especially for ATEX Zones and thus, are guaranteed to give you a spark-free clean so you don’t have to worry about your cleaning equipment causing an explosion.

Our cleaning systems are also high-reaching so that you can clean all over your work site as our carbon fibre pole can reach up to 15.2 metres high.

All our specialist cleaning equipment have ATEX product certification as we place your workplace and the user’s safety above all else.

Why not book a free demo of our high-level cleaning vacuum so you can try one out before buying!