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Twenty years later: Time to renew awareness of combustible dust process safety

A Pharma Manufacturing-hosted roundtable sponsored by CV Technology and Donaldson Company, Inc.

Date: Thursday, September 14,  2023

Time: 2:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM CT / 11:00 AM PT / 7:00 PM GMT

Sponsor: CV Technology, Donaldson

Duration: 1 Hour

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It has been 20 years since the pharmaceutical industry awoke to the tragic combustible dust fueled fire and explosion at West Pharmaceutical in Kinston, NC. While other industry sectors (wood, agricultural and food, and metal) continue to report occurrences of fires and explosions involving combustible dusts, the pharmaceutical industry has been fortunate to experience no such recent losses. It remains crucial for worker safety and health that the industry maintains its focus on the elements that can so easily come together with devastating consequences. Loss of awareness and focus to the hazards and the safeguards that have worked is a recipe for a return to unsafe conditions.

The manufacture of pharmaceutical products involves combustible chemical dusts (such as anthraquinone, dextrin, lactose, sodium stearate, and sulfur) in various processes (blending, conveying, crushing, milling, mixing, pelletizing, drying, and sieving) that create fine particulate dusts from larger solids. Without adequate control measures that capture and collect those dusts, such processes create the fuel for the combustion reaction. In addition to creating and concentrating the fuel, those same processes might yield the ignition source in the form of static electricity. Further complicating the hazard assessment for pharmaceutical processes, is the presence of hybrid mixtures, where the solid reagent is often mixed with a volatile organic solvent.

OSHA issued a revised National Emphasis Program (NEP) for combustible dusts at the beginning of the year (see CPL 03-00-008) which requires that a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) be performed in accordance with the provisions of consensus combustible dust standards by NFPA.

In this roundtable, the panel will use the DHA framework to highlight the unique aspects of combustible dust hazard identification and control within the pharmaceutical industry. The panelists will review the challenges of characterizing the properties of typical pharmaceutical solids - maximum explosion pressure, deflagration index, minimum explosible concentration, and ignition energy. The presence of a hybrid mixture, the potential for toxicity hazards to exist in addition to combustible and explosible nature of the dusts, and the small volume of sample available as compared to that required for the battery of tests all complicate the all-important property testing. By working through the DHA outline, the panel will be able to discuss suitable control measures commonly implemented on process equipment (dryers and dust collectors for example) within the industry, including explosion protection (venting) and explosion prevention (inerting, detection and suppression).


Jason Krbec, Sales Engineering Manager, CV Technology

Jason Krbec, Sales Engineering Manager, CV Technology, is a recognized authority in the field of the dust explosion protection. He is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in the state of Florida. Mr. Krbec is an active member in The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Chrissy Klocker, Applications Engineering Mgr., Industrial Air Filtration, Donaldson Company, Inc.

Chrissy Klocker is an Applications Engineering Manager with Donaldson Company’s Industrial Air Filtration business unit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has more than a decade of experience helping customers with technical and application guidance specific to the dust collection industry. For the past eight years, She has served on the conference planning committee, been an instructor on local exhaust ventilation design, and presented on the impact of combustible dust on dust collection equipment at the annual Michigan Industrial Ventilation Conference in East Lansing, Michigan. Ms. Klocker holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota, and a Master’s of Business Communication from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Panelist Moderator- Guy Colonna, Former Director of Engineering, National Fire Protection Association

Event Moderator- Karen Langhauser, Chief Content Director, Pharma Manufacturing

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