In 2009, OSHA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for a Combustible Dust standard based on a recommendation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board which found 119 workers were killed and 718 injured by combustible dust explosions between 1980 and 2005. Despite the fact that combustible dust hazards are still prevalent (in June, a Kentucky-based wood working company saw two workers injured in a combustible dust explosion that sent flames more than 50 feet into the air.) the ComDust rule is continuing to get bogged down by statutory and legal burdens. The Unified Regulatory Agenda which was just published July 7, 2011, shows that the SBREFA review (the next step in the rulemaking process) has been pushed back 8 months.
Although (and because) it may be some time before we see a final rule, companies that are at risk for combustible dust hazards should take the responsibility to protect their workers now. OSHA has a Safety and Health Topics page on their website (see link below) which has information that may be helpful in preventing a combustible dust explosion at your facility. Some of the most important things you can do are to:
- Educate yourself about combustible dust.
- Complete a hazard assessment to find any and all factors that could contribute to an explosion.
- Implement a hazardous dust identification, testing, housekeeping and control program to minimize dust accumulation throughout the facility.
- Identify and control all ignition sources.
- Have an Emergency Action Plan in place.
- Educate employees of the dangers of combustible dust and the practices you’ve implemented to keep them safe.
For more information on Combustible Dust hazards and how to mitigate them, check out these links:
- CCI’s blog on Combustible Dust
- OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page on Combustible Dust
This information is provided as a service to you by Compliance Consultants, Inc.