One of OSHA’s Safety and Health Information Bulletins, titled Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions discusses some of the tragedies that have befallen those who work with combustible dust over the last fifteen years.
One such incident was a dust fire and explosion that happened in Kentucky in 2003 in which 7 were killed and 37 were injured. A quote from the OSHA document discusses the incident:
“… a Kentucky acoustics insulation manufacturing plant was the site of another fatal dust explosion. The CSB (U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board) also investigated the incident. Their report cited the likely ignition scenario as a small fire extending from an unattended oven, which ignited a dust cloud created by nearby line cleaning. This was followed by a deadly cascade of dust explosions throughout the plant.”
The document goes on to list the causes of the explosion as identified by the CSB:
- Hazard Assessment
- Hazard Communication
- Maintenance Procedures
- Building Design
- Investigation of Previous Fires
All of these are pretty simple elements of combustible dust training. Assessing dangers in the workplace is an important part of any business, not just those that involve combustible dust. By educating your employees about the dangers of combustible dust accumulation, the chance that they will leave a work area unclean or under maintained drop significantly. By keeping a housekeeping and upkeep schedule, you can be sure that your employees are refreshed on this information at reasonable intervals. Beyond that, having architectural knowledge of your building and a report of previous incidents is essential if you are going to maintain a smart and safe business venture that includes combustible dust.
Join us next time when we’ll give you a list of resources you can use to get started with your own combustible dust training program. In the mean time, if you have any comments or questions, let us know by sounding off in the comments section below!