Avoiding accidents and OSHA citations by knowing your combustible dust hazards
In this article, engineering consultants Michael L. Hanks and Robert Kenney use their experiences in investigating combustible dust accidents and helping companies respond to OSHA citations to explain how you can protect your plant.
Many bulk solids processors and handlers overlook or underestimate combustible dust hazards in their plants. This creates the potential for devastating fires and explosions that can injure workers and destroy equipment and property. The hazards can also lead an OSHA inspector to issue a citation and impose fines or other penalties. Between 1980 and 2005, more than 280 fires and explosions involving combustible dust occurred in the US. These incidents resulted in 119 fatalities and 718 injuries. In 2008, OSHA issued a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP). This program instructs local OSHA inspectors to identify and inspect businesses and plants that produce or handle combustible dusts. It also explains what hazardous conditions the inspectors must find to issue a citation to the company.