The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry
experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the
overall food industry marketplace. In this issue, we ask:
From dust explosions to gas leaks, food companies must mitigate various
Terry Franklin, Technical Sales Director,
safety risks every day. What solutions can food manufacturers put in place
to prevent potential disasters and increase employee safety?
Combustible dust is one of the most destructive haz-
ards in the food manufacturing industry. Your facility may
be large and complicated or your facility may be small
and simple. If you process powders, resize solids or dry
foods, odds are you do have combustible dust hazards.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a
list of standards that can be used to help mitigate these
• NFPA 61, Standard for the prevention of fires and dust
explosions in agricultural and food processing facilities.
• NFPA 69, Standard on explosion prevention systems.
• NFPA 652, Standard on combustible dust (proposed
• NFPA 654, Standard for the prevention of fires and
dust explosions from the manufacturing, processing,
and handling of combustible particulate solids.
Additionally, Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) has a Combustible Dust National
Emphasis Program to help companies meet current regulations. Within many of these standards and regulations are
references to spark detection and extinguishing systems.
Spark detection is a preventive measure against fires
Matt Brady, Vice President of
and dust explosions. Food processing, including drying,
Food process industry profession-
als know that when a technology
is factory mutual (FM) approved, it
has undergone extensive testing to
ensure it delivers on its promise and
is reliable. When choosing any type of
industrial safety system, one should
consult with the supplier to ensure
that their equipment meets the highest
industrial safety standards. ◆
Federal Signal Corporation
Multi-layered communications has become
a critical component of disaster preparedness for today’s food processing facilities.
Not long ago, emergency communications
for manufacturing facilities, including food
processing, were limited to outdoor sirens,
indoor visual and audible alarms and public address systems. Times have definitely
changed. Technological developments now
enable plant safety officials to substantially
expand the effectiveness of their alerting and
mass notification capabilities. These added
‘layers’ of communications extend the reach
of emergency warning and notification well
beyond the scope of traditional plant alerting systems.
The modes of communication available to today’s emergency managers encompass everything from landline, cell and satellite phones
to texting, message boards, PC-based instant messaging, email, other
SMS technology and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Since each layer of communications offers distinct advantages along
with potential limitations, a centralized emergency notification strategy
that offers redundant backup, and that reaches everyone who needs
to be reached in the event of a crisis, is now essential.
This layered approach makes it possible to address cultural and
environmental barriers to effective plant emergency communications. Among the most common cultural barriers are the language
differences among employees. There are also the needs of the physically impaired, including people with mobility or hearing challenges.
Environmental barriers include the unique and possibly hazardous
characteristics of materials being used in production, and excessive
noise levels in the plant.
It is worth noting that technology is also allowing plant safety
officials to automate an expanding range of emergency response
processes. This includes everything from controlling outdoor alerting devices, such as sirens, indoor alarms and emergency lights, to
monitoring remote fire and gas-leak detectors. By the same token,
sophisticated scenario management software is now being employed
to automate the full range of disaster response functions, including
expediting communications with local first responders and community
safety officials. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the potential for a single point of failure that could adversely impact the effectiveness of the
entire system in the event of an explosion, fire, toxic gas leak, natural
disaster or other emergency crisis. ◆