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CSB Releases Combustible Dust Video

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recently released a new safety video depicting how accumulations of combustible dust at worksites can provide the fuel for devastating explosions that kill and injury workers, shut down plants and harm local economies.

Combustible Dust: An Insidious Hazard,” features all-new CSB computer animations that illustrate three major dust explosion accidents CSB has investigated: West Pharmaceutical Services in Kinston, N.C.; CTA Acoustics in Corbin, Ky.; and Hayes Lemmerz International in Huntington, Ind.

For each accident, the animations show how explosive dust accumulated over years on plant equipment, pipes, floors, ducts, dust collectors and other areas. The video shows how conditions develop needing only an ignition source to set off a primary explosion, which lofts the accumulated dust, leading to deadlier secondary explosions.

News footage and still photographs depict actual damage caused by these explosions, as well as other accidents, including last year’s tragedy which killed 14 workers at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth, Ga. The video also includes commentary from experts and CSB investigators.

Understanding the Hazard

“No company wants to see its facility blown up and destroyed and its employees killed,” CSB Chairman John Bresland said in the video. “But they just don't understand what the hazard is, they don't realize that they have a hazard here, until that one day when the explosion occurs, and it's a terrible tragedy for them. And they look back and say, ‘If we'd only known.’”

The video points out that dust accumulations – and the resulting secondary dust explosions – can be readily prevented. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards have long been available to general industry and, if followed, will prevent such accidents, as NFPA official Amy Beasley Spencer stated in the video.

Laboratory footage in the video depicts how easily combustible dust ignites, as a small dust sample gathered by investigators in the rubble of a dust explosion site is lofted over a flame and creates an instant fireball.

According to Bresland, CSB hopes the video will be viewed across general industry – in all facilities where combustible dust may be generated in the manufacturing process. “It is our hope,” he said, “that company executives, safety managers, and labor groups will take 29 minutes to view this video and ask themselves, ‘Could this happen at our operation?’ And then take action to eliminate dust hazards from their facilities.”

In the video, Bresland also calls for action to prevent dust explosions. “We need education,” he said. “We need industry to understand what the hazards are. We need regulation. We need a comprehensive combustible dust regulation, and we need enforcement of the regulation.”

The free video is available on CSB’s Web site and on YouTube.

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