The costly consequences of an explosion

Consider the devastating effects an explosion could cause in your manufacturing plant or processing facility. Your process could be shut down for days or even weeks. The business interruption and resulting lost productivity could put your company at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. The cost of insurance coverage could increase dramatically. Or even worse, your employees could sustain serious or even fatal injuries.

How does it happen?

A deflagration explosion requires five elements, fuel, oxygen, dispersion, an ignition source and a confined space. Does your process generate these elements? Fuel can be a bulk material that is dispersed as a cloud of fine particles, a flammable gas or a volatile chemical that creates vapors. Oxygen is readily available in most plant processes. Ignition can be generated by a flame, a welding arc, spontaneous combustion, frictional or electrostatic sparking. Finally the majority of plant processes can provide the confined space. Once all five elements are brought together, the potential for an explosion can exist in your plant.

How does it develop?

An explosion is a propagating combustion wave – or deflagration – moving at less than the speed of sound. A flame front travels initially at slow speeds but increases velocity quickly which forms a leading high pressure or shock wave. Since most industrial processes are not designed to withstand the pressures developed in an explosion, a rupture occurs in the process releasing a destructive pressure shockwave and flame. The subsequent damage can include a much larger secondary explosion occurring when the initial explosion disturbs dust layers within the facility itself as well as a post-explosion fire


The average dollar loss per explosion incident in a typical year is $3.4 million.

Total losses from explosions are four times the amount of losses from all other causes including fire.

Explosions account for less than 4% of all interruptions but nearly 40% of all losses.

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