Dangers of Factory Dust.

Dangers of Factory Dust.

Each development of manufacturing processes appears to augment the fire hazard, not merely by reason of the dangers incident to the increased speed of operation, and also the concentration due to the greater units of larger buildings, but more especially to the greater amount of dust thrown off by the more rapid manipulation of the stock in the new methods of manufacture. The comparison of the readiness of ignition to the shaving to that of the log holds good in all combustible material namely, the finer subdivision the greater the facility of ignition and the greater the rapidity of combustion. The severe accidents occurring in those lines of special manufacturing using powdered wood and pulverized cork, so that these substances can be classed as explosives under such conditions illustrate the occurrences resulting from such changed conditions. It would be trite to make any reference to the explosive of grain dust in flouring mills or of hop dust in connection with the manufacturing of malt, but there are continually occurring instances of the explosion of materials not ordin~ arily included in the list of explosives and which are made so solely on account of rapid combustibilty entirely due to subdivision.

A few days ago an explosion occurred in that portion of a print works where the cloth was received into the establishment “ in the gray” directly from the mills without any treatment and was being wound into large rolls preparatory to the processes carried on in that establishment. The short, fine cotton fibers were shaken out of the cloth as dust by the rapid winding to such an extent that it became necessary to put a ventilating hood over the machine. An electric spark at the belt ignited some of the dust, and it produced an explosion which blew off the roof and wrecked the contents of the building with such violence as to seriously injure five men at work in the room.

With the old method of opening and picking cotton by which it was blown into a “guazeroom”, there were numerous instances of explosions occurring in connection with such fires, but that class of accidents has been very much reduced by the present method of lapper pickers, which wind the cotton into a relatively compact cylinder. The explosion of cotton fibers in napping-rooms are still of frequent occurrence. Within recent years a fire starting in the cardroom of a cotton mill produced an explosion which was exceedingly violent, and spread the flames to an extent beyond the scope of the fire apparatus and compassed the destruction of the mill. The explosion from dust in the various forms of continuous driers used in textile mills have been such as to require the utmost precau. tions by way of construction and continuous cleanliness in order to secure conditions of safety. When the facing dust accumulating on the trusses of a foundry was being washed from the beams by a stream from fire hose, when the works were shut down during an enforced vacation, such as has occurred during recent times, the dust filled the building and was ignited by the fire the portable forge, where repairs were under way.

But such fires are not by any means confined to the dust of ordinarily recognized combustibule materials. Fires have been known to occur in the dust of iron thrown out from the tumbling barrels used for polishing tacks by their attrition on each other. One form of the well-known parlor fireworks, which produces such a bright figuration, is merely the combustion of finely divided steel, whose temperature of ignition is so low that the hand can be held, not only with impunity, but also without any sensation of heat directly in the scintillation of the fireworks. The finely povvdered zinc, known as “ zinc auxiliary,” which is used in connection with the rejuvenation of the indigo dye vats in the coloring of cotton, is so rapidly oxidized by a small amount of moisture that fires produced in that manner are of frequent occurrence, and the danger is so well known that many lines of water transportation refuse to take this material under any condition whatsoever.

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