Powder and Bulk Solids Show with Chris Cloney from Dust Safety Science – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E3

May 31, 2023

Another episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast from the Powder and Bulk Solids Show. For this show we meet up with Chris Cloney from Dust Safety Science again as he discusses the important aspects of the show. He talks about always trying to progress the mission of combustible dust safety and providing everyone with the necessary information to help mitigate a combustible dust event.





Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs Podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.

Donovan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs podcast. This is going to be our last install here at the Powder & Bulk Solids Show. Chris Cloney is joining us today from Dust Safety Science. How’s it going, Chris?

Chris: Good. How’s everyone doing?

Donovan: Good. We’re doing good. This is like, this is your show. This is like your playground of dust safety. This is where everybody comes to talk about, like where, what you guys are all about, isn’t it?

Chris: Yeah, I mean, the powder show has been a great event for us to come to for the awareness and education of combustible dust. Obviously, the industry is here, plastics and powders and food and wood and pharma and chemical are all creating dust. That’s why you care about it. But a lot of cases that’s combustible dust and that’s what we do all day every day.

Donovan: Yeah. So tell everybody maybe it’s not familiar with your organization, what you guys are all about.

Chris: So our small team runs Dust Safety Science, Dust Safety Academy, Dust Safety Professionals, and it’s all around awareness and education for combustible dust. We have a podcast and run for five years now. We’ve had you on the show before. We’ve been on Dusty Jobs.

Donovan: You guys have like 250 episodes something like that now, right?

Chris: Every week for almost five years.

Donovan: Oh my gosh, that’s a lot.

Chris: A lot of talking all about combustible dust. Can you believe there’s that much to say about it? So we do awareness education. Somebody needs help you send a request through we find an expert anywhere in the world to help them out. We have a number of companies like yourselves that support those efforts. We do a lot of educational material like the conference here right last couple days doing a lot of presentations and moderating of sessions trying to bring people together to understand the challenges.

Donovan: Yeah. Yeah, you know, were talking about this before –  regulations are changing all the time. Yeah, people are coming up with better and safer ways to help people go home safe at the end of the day and you guys are as far as I know you’re one of the people who do one of the best jobs tracking that –

Chris: I appreciate that

Donovan: Knowing what’s going on a great resource for anybody out there who is trying to figure out more about their situation or their dust you guys just are a treasure trove of knowledge.

Chris: I appreciate it. Yeah, from the newsletter every Sunday again going on five years. Every fire and explosion we can find in combustible dust we send it out. Yeah, Dust Safety Academy. It’s got 1700 people in it. There’s open forum there. People’s ask questions get answers, weekly digest so. If if somebody else is creating more material combustible dust trying to trying to further the mission then then I don’t know I don’t know who that be.

Donovan: So yeah, I sat in on your guys online seminar just a couple months back. That was great so many professionals on there talking about just more knowledge. It was like drinking from a fire hydrant trying to learn everything. You being someone who has this huge experience huge knowledge base on what’s going on from this show what are some things that you know if you didn’t come to this show what did you miss out on, what’s some stuff that I mean that new or learned about.

Chris: There’s there’s a couple pieces. One – so we’ll go through three things. But one it’s just nice to be back interacting with people in the flesh. I know with the world events and traveling all that we’re just sort of ramping up in last year so having events but it’s good to have that in-person communication. The reason is just so much faster. So yesterday through our help desk we had three requests plus two DSP requests, Dust Safety Professionals. Training out of Quebec for combustible dust. Is hay dust explosible? TNT equivalents of sugar which actually I know about from a past life in defense research and stuff, if you can believe that. Testing large test sites out of Europe. Where they are located and you know in five or six questions like that.

And within about 20 minutes of walking around the show it says, “I know this person has an answer, go talk to him.” “I know this person has an answer, go talk to him.” We were able to get all that support, help desk requests, Dust Safety Professional requests moved along. At a speed that was just, you know, via email, it takes forever. Now, you guys are responsive, but not everybody responds because of your email. So to have that in-person capability at these events come to one of these events. I appreciate Informa putting it on, and Powder Bulk Solids putting it on. That’s really where in a day people are getting answers to the hundred toughest questions they have, and I think that’s a really big piece.

Donovan: There has been a really great turnout. There’s been a lot of good people here. We’ve had a lot of people come through our booth and just getting to know them and learn from them too as they come in about what they’re doing and how we can help them or how they can help us.

Chris: Yeah, you got it.

Donovan: Yeah.

Chris: So that was number one. We ran a whole track on combustible dust yesterday. Started in standards and regs in the morning moving on to dust hazard analysis in the middle of the day and then hazard management so explosion protection, fire protection options in the afternoon. Really meant take people through that journey and the piece that was a big takeaway for me was that that’s still really important. You still have people that are every you know, every spot of the spectrum for combustible dust. People that don’t recognize the hazard through they started to recognize has they need that education

What really hit home is that a conversation with the large multinational Well, held safety management large multinational, pretty new to the field. She said she came in on Tuesday walked around it was just overwhelmed. You know every vendor of every system and every from from dust collection to explosion protection to fire design and since she almost couldn’t talk, it was too much information. She came to the education session yesterday. Walked right through with all the speakers there again regulations, identify, assess, address combustible dust hazards. Here’s your options and afterwards she came to thank me and said, “I feel more comfortable now going back and talking to everybody next day. I feel like I have that level of understanding.” I know the problem when they say a a flameless vent or a dust collection system or filter receiver whatever the piece of information.

So that that education was really important to keep, you know, front of mind instead of throwing whatever and the end thing is that you have at people, “Here, here,” you know. “You need a suppression system.” Try to understand why in some of the background.

Donovan: That’s true, I mean some people who are new to the industry, just terminology like what is what, what you need, what you know, maybe you do need this on your system, you don’t need that on your system, it can be overwhelming. And that’s something you guys can help with too, helping walk people through that with just a real basic understanding.

Chris: All day, every day. People just ask us questions from, I said Dust Safety Academy, the emails we send out, the podcasts. People will just email and say, “What is NFPA 660?” We’ll talk about this in a second. Just the really basic stuff.  If you’re thinking and ask it to us, because we’ll get you over that hump instead of not understanding for three months. Myself or somebody from our team has brought back, it’s like, “This is definition combustible dust.” “Ask NFPA,” or whatever it’s gonna be. It could be the most basic question in the world. If you’ve got it, somebody else has probably had it, and we’ve probably answered it before.

Donovan: Right, and don’t get hung up on that basic question. Don’t get hung up on that. We wanna help–

Chris: You can’t get safety if you don’t move forward, right? So don’t get hung up there and get to the, yeah.

Donovan: ’Cause that’s your goal, that’s our goal, is just to help people have that safer work environment so they can get home safe every day.

Chris: Yeah, you got it.

Donovan: Yeah, so, and okay, so what were you gonna say about NFPA?

Chris: So this morning we did a panel on NFPA 660, which is the standard for combustible dust. It is a combination of all the older NFPA standards, the current NFPA standards, I should say. So today the framework is 652 is the fundamentals of combustible dust. 61, 44, 655, 654. And I missed one, but there’s five of them are industry and commodity specific standards covering grain, wood, sulfur, metal, and other particular matter. That’s sort of your standard set for how NFPA sits today. They’re all different documents. They’re all very technical in nature.

Donovan: And they’re all unique.

Chris: And they’re all, they’re all unique. They’re all different layouts. Chapters are in the same order. So low point 660 then, and it’s been a tremendous effort by the NFPA committees for all those groups as listed, is to combine that into one document in a hierarchy that’s set up so it’s much easier to understand hazards of combustible dust, you understand that, again, identify, assess, address, framework that’s in there. But if you have questions, you know, and that’s what the panelists heard this morning, is open discussion, we have four of the six committee chairs there, just open forum discussions on what NFPA means, NFPA 660 means for the industry moving forward.

Donovan: Yeah.

Chris: And so the biggest things, I mean, the three top concerns that we talked about, people are worried that’s gonna cause onerous, you know, more requirements.

Donovan: Right.

Chris: The fundamental guiding principle of putting these together, and I’m not on the committees and I’m not NFPA. So from my understanding, but the principle is to actually have no net impact on industry, it’s more of an organizational exercise. So there may be a couple tweaks here and there that are, that are, I’ll say more minor, but it’s unlikely that your industry, whatever you’re in, graphite or coal or wood production or wood or, it’s very unlikely that’s gonna beca whole read write of your combustible dust safety management system. Because 660. It’s really meant to be a platform to help us as a community develop standards moving forward. So you don’t need to be worried that’s gonna re-change everything that you’ve done.

Donovan: I gotcha. So 660 is more of an overall arching to understand the combustible dust standards.

Chris: Yeah.

Donovan: But then you’ll still have to go down into your specific standard to really get into the weeds of it if you need to, right?

Chris: Yeah, it’s just easier now, because it’s all in one document, because it’s the way it’s set up. So to give you an example, it’s recursive. So chapters one and nine are fundamentals, that’s what was in your 652 document. And then chapters 11 and 15 are those other standards I said was added above and beyond the fundamentals for the material you’re studying. The really cool part is the layout is, I can’t think of a less nerdy word than recursive, so I’ll say recursive. But, so say section 4.2 is the owner and operator requirements for combustible bus. I don’t know if that’s the number of it, but say that was it. The additional owner and operator requirements for grain handling would be 11.4.2. The additional owner and operator requirements for metal would be 12.4.2. The additional requirements for other particular matter would be 15.4.2.

Donovan: So, not the other ones were any different. This is a little more logical layout too. So that if you go to this and then you can go to your section underneath it.

Chris: Exactly. And so like I just explained, you could read those, you understand all the combustible dust owner and operator requirements in about 10 minutes. You couldn’t do that in the current standard. You’d have to read every document and because they’re in different order and have different way the–

Donovan: Different flow patterns.

Chris: Conflicts are dealt with. You’d have to read each one, understand each one, understand where the conflicts are, and then kind of come up with a hypothesis on what you think it means for all combustible and then so you have to be really smart which the NFPA committees there but you’re coming in from the outside there’s no way to do it today.

Donovan: Yeah, if I’m the guy in my facility who’s tasked with figuring this out that’ll be a lot.

Chris: Or the or the guys trying to sell, you know equipment to support that operation. It’s confusing for everyone involved. So 660 again, like it literally would take 10 minutes to read those sections. Yeah, this makes sense. This is how it is across all combustible dust and that’s not possible in the current standards.That’s that’s really the the overarching goal for 660.

Donovan: Is it out or is it coming out?

Chris: It’s coming out. First draft came out in October last year, October 2022. There’s public input. Public comments were accepted on that draft till January of this year and now the committees are all voting on those public inputs that came in. So the way the process is they vote on the public inputs and change the documents are made. October this year the new draft will come out. You have another round of public comment they call it instead of public input. Basically the same you put input into the changes that were made. They’ll come on another draft then there’s another chance to appeal at NFPA’s conference in person in 2025 and then the the standard will go out from there. So we’re sort of in the middle, I guess. There’s a draft out there. You can access it today

Right now it’s www.nfpa.org/660, click on next edition. Click on first draft and click on view report or something, it says. You’ve got to create log in credentials. It’s just the way it is. It helped me out. But you do that and you can view the whole thing with all the public input. If somebody’s made a comment they had to leave their name the reason why they think it’s important to to consider, and you could actually understand where 660 is today just by going to those – I know it’s saying it verbally on here is nothing. If we had a we had an image of the 660 thing then we might be able to show how to do it. It’s quite easy. Much easier than people think, right? They might sit here for the next six months and say I don’t know what’s in 660. I’m scared about my section. You just go read it right now.

Donovan: Right and that’s what’s great is that it’s not – there’s not just some people out there who are making up whatever they want. They’re listening. I mean I didn’t know all this but it sounds like there’s a lot of steps to make sure that whatever comes out at the end is gonna be the best for everybody that’s involved.

Chris: Yeah. And it’s, the committees are anywhere from 20 to 30 to 40 people. And I’m estimating last three years, like the average might have been 40, 50 hours. Some I know spent up to 150 hours. So you’re talking high thousands, maybe tens of thousands of hours.

Donovan: Yeah. People are taking their time.

Chris: And they’re not just the gurus, the experts. They have to have a mandatory split of consultants, insurance, end users, large end users, the big companies in the world, smaller end users, couple researchers in there and that sort of thing. So try to get every viewpoint in. And they hash it out. It’s, I don’t know, it could be a bloodbath in some of those trying to get, but that’s the point, right? To bring different perspectives in and then try to get a better doc at the end of the day.

Donovan: Right, which a better document is gonna make it clear for everybody who has to use these, clear for everyone who’s trying to implement them. And then in the end of the day, what it’s gonna do is it’s gonna make a safer environment for people who are working.

Chris: Yeah, and easier to understand too. You can go figure out what your requirements are as per NFPA where, I mean, you can do that today, but it just takes more effort to figure out.

Donovan: It gets tricky.

Chris: Yeah, so that was the big takeaway from that panel. There are a lot of specific discussions. I’d say if you have a question about how it impacts you or your industry, reach out to Donovan. You can also reach out to myself.

Donovan: Yeah.

Chris: And, well, I already explained, that’s what we do. People ask these questions all day every day, so we’re happy to help.

Donovan: Yeah, reach out to me, I’ll ask Chris.

Chris: Yeah. You got it.

Donovan: But, so is there anything else that, you know what I mean, that’s coming up, anything new with you guys coming up that you wanna tell people about?

Chris: I mean, there’s always new stuff going on. 660 is a big deal. If you’re a Canadian company, if you’re working out of British Columbia, they just came out with their proposed regulations on combustible dust. Um, so that’s a big deal if you’re working on British Columbia or you have clients working on British Columbia.

Donovan: Yeah.

Chris: I think it’s only open for public comment for six weeks or something like that. So then this comes out, it may, it may have missed the public comment stage, but it’s good to be aware of what the changes are to the regulations there. Um, lots of stuff overseas in terms of new and novel, and that would have been stuff covered at conference, land spending and suppression and isolation. and that sort of stuff, but that’s like leading edge, things that will impact the standards five years from now. You know, the latest in science of how to protect and prevent dust explosions.

Donovan: Yeah, learning more every day.

Chris: Yeah, for us, we’re just trying to double down with our team of, again, increasing awareness, doing education component, and then helping people when they have a question. And then stick their hand and say, “Hey, I’m lost. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to choose a widget that does X, Y, and Z. I need somebody to come and support me.” Our team get better and better at saying, quickly getting them to a place where they can get the help they need.

Donovan: Yeah, yeah, and that’s what’s great about what you guys do. You’re building the network so people can get answers, get ’em in a decent amount of time. And yeah, ’cause it’s, nobody wants to get bogged down with trying to figure out stuff on Google if there’s people who can just know it. So, and especially, like we were talking about, walking around here, you have the chance to come to a conference like this, it’s a great opportunity to walk around and talk face to face with people who are doing it full time.

Chris: You got it. And if you’re listening to this and you like podcasts, Dust Safety Science Podcast is our show.

Donovan: Oh yeah.

Chris: We’re 250 some odd episodes. Again, only about combustible dust. That’s if you can believe that, but it’s true. We covered a lot of ground from, from Zimbabwe to Jordan to North Carolina to, to here in Illinois, we talked about it all. So yeah, it’s a good spot.

Donovan: Yeah. Yeah. Well, well, Chris, thanks for coming on. We always enjoy having you on. You’re such a wealth of knowledge. It’s like drinking from a fire hose from you sometimes. I’m trying to keep it all in. But we love having you on. And we’re just looking forward to next time we get to talk to you. I’m sure it’ll be about exciting stuff. But I hope you have a great ride home. We’re signing off here from Powder Bulk. And I just want to say thanks for listening, guys. Everyone who’s out there, like, share. Share this with other people who might be trying to figure out what NFPA 660 is or what’s coming up. And until the next time we talk, stay healthy and stay safe.

Chris: A hundred percent. Thanks Donovan.

Donovan: Yep.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Breathe better, work safer.