Explosion Modeling: A Blast from the Future
Industrial facilities run like well oiled machines, keeping the pulse of the nation’s economy moving at a steady clip. But on-site explosions slow this pulse, threatening workers’ safety and jeopardizing production. Industry leaders know all too well the devastating effects that explosions can have on a facility. In its 1999 Process Safety Performance Measurement report, the American Petroleum Institute (API) noted that respondents reported nearly 100 industrial incidents that resulted in significant injuries and even fatalities. While many of these explosions may not be preventable, environmental staff can predict their effects, enabling appropriate emergency response planning. Explosion modeling software allows facilities to input potential explosion scenarios based on the types of materials they use and store as well as the structural components of the building itself. The software models structural damage as well as potential injury to workers within the facility. Facilities can benefit from explosion modeling in many different situations, including before constructing a new facility, when planning renovations to a facility, when changing the amount of a certain chemical stored on site, and before switching fuels. Equipped with this predicative tool, industrial personnel can help ensure the safety of their employees and the soundness of the structures in which they work. This article will briefly discuss the potential for industrial explosions. It will outline the steps in using modeling software to predict the human and structural effects of explosions at a facility. Finally, the article will explain how to use this information to ensure workers’ safety and minimize facility damage resulting from explosions.