Are you confused about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) directive on explosive dust controls and how it applies to your business? It appears that OSHA will wait another year to solidify their new rules. In the meantime, read on to understand how the enforcement of existing industry standards impacts you today.
A recent Bloomberg article outlines the challenges around the tricky issue of combustible dust, noting that OSHA had not yet passed a combustible dust standard due to the complexity of the hazard and a packed regulatory agenda.
In the absence of OSHA rules, however, existing National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards are widely viewed as industry benchmarks for dust deflagration and explosion. OSHA uses these and other standards to cite combustible dust hazards, from surface safeguards to mandates for grain-handling facilities.
Penalties can be severe for combustible dust incidents. In July 2015, a mechanic at International Paper Co. died after suffering severe burns. OSHA fined the company more than $200,000 for failing to “provide appropriate protective equipment and training, conduct required inspections and implement safeguard procedures, among other violations.”
A hazard across industries
OSHA defines combustible dust as “all combustible particulate solids of any size, shape or chemical composition that could present a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or other oxidizing medium.” Those solids range from wood, sugar, fertilizer and dried blood, to textiles, metals and more. No matter your manufacturing sector, combustible dust poses risks.
Keeping your factory safe, clean and productive
The most important thing to keep in mind is this: Dust explosions will continue to harm workers and damage property, with or without clear OSHA guidelines. So if you are producing dust in any of your processes, you need to collect a sample and have it tested for its explosive characteristics. Contact Air Purification Inc. for a site visit today. We’ll help you navigate the complex codes and standards – making sure you maintain a safe, clean and productive factory. Trust Air Purification Inc. for turnkey solutions to any air cleaning problem.