For Immediate Release Contact: Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413, dhurns@asse.org
Combustible Dust Explosion Information
(June 8, 2008) — COMBUSTIBLE DUST EXPLOSIONS

Combustible dust can lead to fires or explosions in the workplace if proper safety measures are not implemented. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is possible for any combustible and occasionally non-combustible material that exists in a finely divided form to become explosive. Several people have been killed or injured by explosions due to combustible dust in various industries over the years, including but not limited to the food, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and plastics industry.

For example, the recent explosion in a sugar refinery killed 13 workers and injured several more. In February 2003, seven workers were killed and 37 injured due to a dust explosion in an acoustics insulation manufacturing plant in Kentucky, and just one month prior to that six workers were killed and 38 injured in North Carolina at a pharmaceutical plant dust explosion. In addition, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) identified 281 fires and explosions over a 25-year period that took 119 lives and caused 718 injuries. Employers need to take proper measures to ensure that employees are not injured or killed due to the presence of combustible dust in the workplace.

Combustible Dust Resources:

Hayden, Donald K., “Secondary Dust Explosions: Lessons from the Plastics Processing Industry,” Professional Safety Journal, January 2004, p. 27 – 30. For a copy of the article contact Joanna Climer at jeclimer@asse.org.

Standards for Preventing Explosions due to Combustible Dust:

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 654, Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids, provides guidance on the control of dusts to prevent explosions and guidance on the control of ignition sources to prevent explosions due to dust. Some of these recommendations include: minimize the escape of dust from process equipment or ventilation systems; use dust collection systems and filters; use surfaces that minimize dust accumulation and facilitate cleaning; provide access to all hidden areas to permit inspection; inspect for dust residues in open and hidden areas, at regular intervals; clean dust residues at regular intervals; control static electricity, including bonding of equipment to ground; control smoking, open flames, and sparks; control mechanical sparks and friction; and more. Visit www.nfpa.org for more information on the standard.

OHSA links:

For more information on combustible dust visit the OSHA Combustible Dust Safety and Health Topic page at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/combustibledust/index.html.

For information on OSHA’s new directive on the Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program visit http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_03-00-008.pdf.
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