Chemical Safety Board Urges OSHA to Update Its Standards for Hazardous Combustible Dust

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Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers discuss updates that need to be made to standards of hazardous combustible dust. According to the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), combustible dust is a serious industrial hazard, one that will continue to cause devastating injuries and fatalities if steps are not taken to address this critical issue. CSB officials have made a number of recommendations to improve safety gaps in federal and state regulations, industry codes and standards, and best practices.

After conducting a study on the hazards of combustible dust, CSB found that companies either ignore the hazard, fail to take the appropriate steps to prevent the hazard, or are unaware that the hazard exists in their facility. As a result, they are urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a comprehensive combustible dust standard.

What Hazards does Combustible Dust Present?

When dust collects on surfaces, an explosion can occur, which is referred to as a primary event. When another fire or explosion disturbs the dust that has been undisturbed for years, it can cause a secondary explosion, which tends to cause the most devastating injuries and fatalities. Even 1/32 of accumulated dust – roughly the thickness of a dime – can cause a major explosion, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

Combustible dust fires and explosions tend to occur in places like food processing plants, oil production facilities, waste treatment plants, and pulp and paper manufacturing companies.

In order to prevent these catastrophic explosions from happening, the NFPA urges companies to control their dust emissions, design facilities that prevent dust from accumulating, and remove dust that settles. The safety standards established by the NFPA address a range of important topics, including dust hazard analysis, engineering controls, housekeeping, operating procedures, worker training, and explosion protection.

However, the CSB study found that there is no federal standard that requires companies to adhere to these practices, which is why they are calling for OSHA to enact an official industry standard.

The Combustible Dust Study from 2006 found that there were 281 dust-related incidents between 1980 and 2005. These accidents caused 119 worker fatalities, 718 injuries, and extensive property damage. CSB investigated five other dust-related incidents and found that 27 workers lost their lives and 61 were injured in the explosion.

Process of Preventing Dust Explosions

 According to the CSB, preventing combustible dust explosions involves the following three steps:

  1. Education: All employees must understand the hazard.
  2. Regulation: OSHA’s combustible dust standard should be based on the NFPA standards.
  3. Enforcement: Once finalized, the OSHA regulations must be strictly enforced at all times.

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment to all employees. Safety standards must be observed and enforced at all times, and workers should be trained on the proper safety protocols. If an employee is injured, he or she may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Combustible Dust Accidents

If you have been seriously injured in a workplace accident caused by combustible dust, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. These types of accidents often cause severe injuries and we will work tirelessly to secure the maximum financial benefits that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.