Risk Management, Safety

Preventing and Responding to Grain Dust Explosions

GEAPS Online Learning courses are available anytime on-demand. Each course takes approximately 10 hours to complete and can be completed at any pace over five weeks. Courses must be completed within a five-week period that begins the day you register. After registering, learners will be sent a confirmation email, then you’re ready to start learning!  


$495 for members
$795 for non-members.  

Course Description: The most effective way to prevent grain dust explosions is to understand in detail what causes them, and then take sustained action to factor down the risks. This course will remind participants how disastrous grain dust explosions can be and then examine causes and preventive strategies and techniques. It will discuss what grain dust is and how it becomes combustible, how and why grain handling produces grain dust, what practices and techniques can be employed to reduce dust production, effective use of hazard-monitoring systems, major explosion risks within grain facilities, and the importance of preventive maintenance and housekeeping. The course will also examine how companies should be prepared to respond if an explosion occurs.

Course Goals: This course will provide a comprehensive overview of the causes of grain dust explosions, what measures should be taken to prevent them, and their potentially disastrous consequences. It will also provide insight about assessing the effectiveness of control measures, and how companies that experience an explosion should be prepared to respond.

Target Audience: This course is designed for grain facility safety managers, local and regional facility managers and superintendents, new grain industry employees, contractors and others with a need to know why explosions occur and how they can be prevented.


Brandi Miller  Kansas State UniversitySee Bio

Brandi Miller serves as the distance education program coordinator for the Department of Grain Science and Industry and International Grains Program at K-State. In this role, she focuses on for-credit course development as well as professional development classes. Currently, Brandi is working on her master’s degree in Adult and Continuing Education at K-State. Prior to joining the department, Brandi worked for Quaker Oats.

Douglas E. Forst  CMC Industrial Electronics See Bio

Mr. Forst started CMC Industrial Electronics in 1997 with a mission to “protect lives and human property.” Doug has 35 years of experience in electronics manufacturing, specializing in industrial controls. He has been active in the grain processing industry since the early 1980s and has products installed in facilities all across North America. His expertise includes the design, manufacture and deployment of hazard monitoring systems used in grain handling facilities. Doug is a long time member of GEAPS and is the chair of the Distance Education Program Oversight Committee.

Dr. R.P. Kingsly Ambrose  Kansas State University Dept of Grain Science and IndustrySee Bio

Dr. Kingsly Ambrose joined the K-State Department of Grain Science and Industry as an assistant professor in milling/grain processing in 2012. His expertise is in the area of grain processing, particle technology, particulate flow and materials handling, process modeling and simulation, grain dusts, and food process engineering. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in agricultural engineering and Master of Science in agricultural processing from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, and his Ph.D. in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University.

Dr. Carlos Campabadal  Feed Mfg and Grain StorageSee Bio

Dr. Campabadal is a program specialist focusing in the areas of grain storage, quality management and processing, and feed manufacturing for the International Grains Program at K-State. He also coordinates the Spanish-speaking outreach program, and handles teaching and research responsibilities in feed manufacturing and grain storage at K-State’s Department of Grain Science and Industry. Carlos works as a consultant in grain handling, quality and storage and in feed manufacturing in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and North Africa. He is finishing his doctoral degree in agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue University. His professional experience includes working as a project and maintenance engineer in the farm and feed manufacturing industry in Costa Rica.

Chuck Kunisch  Michigan Agricultural CommoditiesSee Bio

Mr. Kunisch worked for several agribusiness companies in Michigan and Ontario before going to work for Michigan Agricultural Commodities in 1998. He has managed the MAC Marlette and Brown City facilities for the last 15 years, with a combined storage of 10 million bushels of corn, soybeans, and red and white soft wheat. He also manages MAC’s Identity Preserved Food Grade Soybean Program that processes and ships food grade soybeans to Europe and the Pacific Rim. Chuck graduated from Michigan State University in 1979 with degrees in crops and soils and animal and dairy science. He has been a member of GEAPS for 20 years.

Andy Heck  Edward J. Heck & SonsSee Bio

Andy Heck is president of Edward J. Heck & Sons Co. in Omaha, Neb. He has been with the company for 35 years, serving the grain, feed and processing industries with parts and equipment such as dust suppression systems and hammermill screens.

The Course of Study

Week 1Details

Lecture 1 – Historical Grain Dust Explosions and the Inevitable Consequences
This lecture will discuss the potentially disastrous consequences of grain dust explosions, pointing out why it is imperative for companies to relentlessly try to prevent them. What are the risks faced by industry and workers? The lecture will also investigate serious grain dust explosions that have occurred in the past.
Lecturer: Brandi Miller

Lecture 2 – Combustible Dust
What is combustible dust? Lecture 2 will discuss the origins and types of grain dust, the causes of grain dust explosions, ignition sources for explosions, and explain what factors are needed in combination to produce a grain dust explosion.
Lecturer: Dr. R.P. Kingsly Ambrose

Week 2Details

Lecture 3 – Grain Handling and Dust
Lecture 3 will provide an overview of the properties of grain, how handling grain generates dust and why the dust is combustible. It will also discuss how some dust types are more combustible than other types, particle size and combustibility, and ignition sources from machinery, high-risk machinery, and other hazards such as welding, electrical, chemical, etc.
Lecturer: Dr. R.P. Kingsly Ambrose

Lecture 4 – Housekeeping as a Control Mechanism
This lecture will emphasize the importance of housekeeping to keep dust levels under control, identifying dust hazards, use of dust collection systems.
Lecturer: Dr. R.P. Kingsly Ambrose

Week 3Details

Lecture 5 – Grain Dust Regulations
Lecture 5 will discuss regulations intended to prevent grain dust explosions, focusing on their main underlying goals, and how some regulations are converging internationally. Checklist what are things they have to be careful of regarding regulations and how it relates.
Lecturer: Dr. Carlos Campabadal

Lecture 6 – Preventive Maintenance
This lecture will cover how hazards-monitoring systems and engineering controls should be utilized to prevent explosions, and preventive maintenance of machinery components. Preventive maintenance.
Lecturer: Doug Forst

Week 4Details

Lecture 7 – Practices and Techniques to Avoid Creation of Dust
Lecture 7 will examine how grain handling practices and techniques can be implemented to avoid creating dust. Techniques include avoiding turbulence at transfer points through the design and sizing of pipes and sheets, using appropriate equipment for conveying and handling, and avoiding overload. Unloading systems (reducing free fall), appropriate buckets in elevators, equipment (cyclones, bag houses) and physical methods of control (oil) will also be discussed.
Lecturer: Andy Heck

Lecture 8 – Preventing Dust via Facility and Equipment Design
Lecture 8 will investigate how facility and equipment systems design can help limit grain dust, and mitigate explosion effects. The lecture will also cover design aspects (pressure regulation in dust collection equipment and maintenance), updates in bucket elevators (parts and location), explosion panels and venting (appropriate places to install panels/venting based on the need), and updates in handling systems that eliminates sparking/static charge build-up.
Lecturer: Dr. Carlos Campabadal

Week 5Details

Lecture 9 – Preventive Training
Lecture 9 will discuss the importance of training employees, contractors and others on site about the risks of explosions and what policies are in place to prevent them. Students will learn how to create an effective emergency evacuation plan, including identifying escape routes and accounting for employees after an evacuation. The value of a good training plan will also be covered, with an emphasis on maintaining signed training documentation for all employees.
Lecturer: Brandi Miller

Lecture 10 – There’s Been an Explosion. What Now?
Lecture 10 will discuss how companies will need to respond immediately after an explosion and deal with media access, emergency responders, personnel and families, insurance and other issues. What is the emergency action plan?
Lecturer: Chuck Kunisch