OSHA Forum on Combustible Dust is in the Air

OSHA is hosting a Combustible Dust Expert Forum on May 13 in Washington D.C. to explore regulatory options for tackling combustible dust hazards. According to its forum announcement, 150 workers have been killed and 850 injured in combustible dust explosions since 1980. OSHA’s Combustible Dust page explains the hazard this way: “Any combustible material (and some materials normally considered noncombustible) can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, it can become explosive. The force from such an explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries, and destruction of entire buildings.” The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has a harrowing video on the dangers of combustible dust. It includes live demonstrations of the explosive nature of combustible dust as well as animated explanations of recent combustible dust events.

Examples of combustible dusts include fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks or flakes of metal (for example, aluminum and magnesium), wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar and paper. Presently, OSHA does not have a combustible dust standard and violations are issued via the General Duty Clause under the Combustible Dust NEP. The planned forum is another step in OSHA's effort create a combustible dust standard. If you are interested in attending the Combustible Dust Forum, sign up by May 6 via Bill Hamilton at 202-693-2077.