The Cost of Procrastinating on Your Spark Arrestor Purchase

Jan 7, 2016

Delaying your spark arrestor decision may cost you– We can help you reduce the risk

warningHow much is your procrastination costing you?  In some industries, putting decisions or actions off for a later date can have negative, if relatively mild, consequences.  A deadline is missed, an opportunity is lost.  A client or partner may even be disappointed. While these consequences may be difficult for those having to deal with them, they pale in the face of the cost of procrastination within the metalworking industry.  

Unlike other businesses, your metalworking company is a high-stakes situation every single day.  With the potentially explosive combination of combustible dust and sparks flying, it is imperative that you act immediately to implement all of the required and recommended safety equipment, including dust collection systems with sealed ductwork and an effective spark arrestor.

Of course, each of these pieces of equipment represents a major investment for your business, and it is important to do your homework and decide which one is the best fit for your business.  However, letting that pending decision intimidate or hold you could be a serious hazard.  

In this blog, we will lead you through:

  • The Risks of Combustible Dust & Sparks
  • The Role of A Spark Arrestor in Risk Prevention
  • The Features & Benefits of the Imperial Systems’ Spark Arrestor

Understanding The Risk of Combustible Dust & Sparks


what_materials_are_involved_in_combustible_dust_incidents_-_graphicIn the metalworking industry, it’s not secret that the materials you work with day in and day out can create a serious risk for combustion.  In fact, metals make up 20% of the materials involved in combustible dust incidents. And between 2008 and 2012, the United States Chemical Safety Board documented 50 combustible dust accidents, which led to a total of 29 fatalities and 161 injuries.


Unfortunately, as of 2014, metals and manufacturing were among the top industries being cited by OSHA for combustible dust, flammable dust, and other explosible dust hazards. This tells us that, although the risk is clear, it may not be clearly understood by those in the industry.

Five simple elements are required for combustion to occur:

  • Heat
  • Fuel
  • Oxygen
  • Dispersion
  • Confinement

image-300x275With each of these factors occurring effortlessly within most metalworking shops, tragedy lurks only a moment away.  This is why, in 2006, the US Chemical Safety Board recommended a comprehensive combustible dust regulatory standard for all industries, be added atop the initial regulations which were developed in the grain industry in 1987.

Clearly, the risks are both real and nearly ubiquitous.  They need to be taken seriously by all within the affected industries. One of the best ways to do this is to evaluate your workspace and ensure that it has all of the equipment necessary to meet OSHA, NFPA, and other regulations.  Additionally, you should regularly evaluate your equipment to ensure that it is in good working order.  

The Role of A Spark Arrestor in Risk Prevention

At its most basic, the role of a spark arrestor is to prevent the emission of flammable materials from combustion.  Sparks, in various forms are the major cause of combustion in combustible dust accidents:

Screenshot at Jan 07 19-37-37Because sparks are often carried along through the exhaust gas stream, it has not cooled from its temperature of 600 degrees Fahrenheit by the time it arrives at the solids separator.  At this point, it can be deposited onto the filter element surface, positioned as a glowing risk of combustion. The filter element surface is at high risk for combustion, no matter what material it is made of, because of it’s role in collecting tiny metal particles and dust that are produced by nearly every manufacturing and metalworking process.  Even a simple spark is enough to insight disaster.

This is why OSHA’s ignition control recommendations regarding combustible dust include the following:shutterstock_243589588

  • Control smoking, open flames, and sparks
  • Control mechanical sparks and friction
  • Use separator devices to remove foreign materials capable of igniting combustibles from process materials
  • Separate heated surfaces from dusts
  • Use an equipment preventive maintenance program.

OSHA’s injury and damage control methods also include:

  • Separation of the hazard (isolate with distance)
  • Segregation of the hazard (isolate with a barrier)
  • Deflagration isolation/venting
  • Specialized fire suppression systems
  • Explosion protection systems;

A Spark Arrestor is an instrumental part of these methods, working to minimize risk by cooling and thus extinguishing sparks before they reach the filter surface.  In the diagram below, note how the hot spark enters the arrestor which both cools and collects debris, before allowing the cooled ember to pass through.

Spark Arrestor internal view copy

The spark arrestor fits within the full dust collection system as the first line of defense.  They take up little or no extra space, but provide powerful results.  

The Features & Benefits of the Imperial Systems’ Spark Arrestor

At Imperial Systems, our highest priority is to provide the best solutions in dust collection and air pollution.  We are determined to provide the best protection for your workers, your plant, and the environment.  For over a decade, we have been serving metalworking businesses like yours all over the United States and Canada.

In an effort to provide fully comprehensive dust collection equipment, we have debuted our Spark Arrestor.  It’s standard features include:

  • Heavy duty construction
  • No maintenance
  • Clean-out door
  • Fully welded construction
  • Easy install into any system
  • Can be installed in horizontal or vertical configurations
  • No moving parts
  • Carbon steel or stainless steel available
  • No water required
  • AVAILABLE IN SIZES: 6 in. to 40 in

Additionally, you can opt for raw inlet and outlet edges, rolled angle flange for bolt together ducts, or clamp together for clamping duct.

As with all Imperial Systems’ products, you can count on the highest quality materials, top safety features, and unbeatable value.

The Cost of Procrastination

So back to our original question.  If you haven’t yet decided on a spark extinguisher for your metalworking business, what is that procrastination cost you?  Let’s take a look at the numbers:

From 1996-2005, 106 explosions resulted in 16 fatalities, 126 injuries, and an estimated cost of $162.8 million in damages to the facilities.

And we know, from previously cited studies, that sparks are a major cause of such explosions.  Will you absolutely face a combustible dust explosion if you put off your decision about a spark extinguisher?  Perhaps not.  But is it really worth the risk?

If you are ready to take the next step towards improving the safety of your workplace with an industrial spark arrestor, you can contact Imperial Systems today at 800.918.3013 or by emailing us at
At Imperial Systems, we know that spark collection is only one of the many challenges that metalworkers like you face every day.  What other safety and production challenges are you facing in your business?  What actions have you taken to try to solve these issues?  Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments section below.