CSB Urges OSHA to Issue Dust Standard

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has issued a report that calls on OSHA to issue a standard aimed at preventing combustible dust explosions and fires, which have killed 119 people and injured 718 since 1980.

At a Nov. 9 public meeting in Washington, D.C., CSB officials presented the findings and recommendations from its investigation into explosions that occurred in Kinston, N.C. (West Pharmaceutical Services); Corbin, Ky. (CTA Acoustics); and Huntington, Ind. (Hayes-Lemmerz) in 2003. These three explosions killed 14 people and injured 81 others.

In its report, CSB notes that there is no comprehensive OSHA standard addressing dust explosions, which occur when fine particles of combustible material are ignited.

" … While some programs to mitigate dust hazards exist at the state and local levels, they form a patchwork of adapted and adopted voluntary standards that are challenging to enforce," CSB Chairman Carolyn Merritt said. "New federal standards are necessary to prevent further loss of life."

CSB also points out that the required safety data sheets for combustible powders provide no warnings that they could explode.

Training, Expanded Dust Warnings Also Recommended

In addition to calling on OSHA to issue a new national standard designed to prevent combustible dust fires and explosions in general industry, CSB is asking OSHA to:

  • Require expanded dust warnings under its hazard communication standard;
  • Provide training to inspectors on recognizing and preventing combustible dust explosions; and
  • Implement a national Special Emphasis Program on combustible dust hazards in general industry.

Among other CSB recommendations in the report, the agency is calling on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to modify its standard for hazardous industrial chemicals to urge that material safety data sheets include combustible dust warnings.

The CSB report on combustible dust hazards is available on the agency's Web site. The agency also said it plans to release to the public data on the 281 previous dust incidents that form part of the basis for the study.

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