INDIANAPOLIS — Prevention or protection? These terms are not interchangeable, said Jason Stricker, director of sales and marketing, Shick Esteve, who presented an education session on ingredient handling, including mitigating risk from flour dust, at the American Bakers Association’s Technical Conference, being held Oct. 28-31.
“Prevention deals with the attempt to eliminate a (fire or explosion risk) factor,” he said. “Protection deals with some sort of process change, or an equipment addition, to either contain or exhaust energy from some sort of an explosive event. Every facility can use prevention strategies, and you do not have to invest a lot of money or change your equipment to do that.”
The key, Mr. Stricker noted, is in good housekeeping.
“Oftentimes it’s a challenge for a facility, especially if they’re short on manpower,” he said. “But it’s about proper maintenance of the equipment and the facility.”
Another key is eliminating what Mr. Stricker referred to as “credible ignition sources.” Some of those include open electrical boxes, metal-on-metal contact, and conduits that have been cut or kinked. Static electricity is another factor to eliminate.
“If all of your metal equipment is properly bonded, you effectively eliminate the static discharge in your system, and you won’t have a credible ignition source,” he said.
These practices are fairly simple to execute but may take some time depending on the size and complexity of the facility, he noted. However, by identifying total metal-to-metal conductivity through the ingredient handling system from feeding device through the ingredient’s destination, static discharge can be eliminated and risk of a dust explosion mitigated.
Mr. Stricker stressed that, while equipment suppliers can guide the process, it is the responsibility of the bakery owner/operator to apply proper fire safety standards.