Thursday, April 10, 2008

ComDust Hazardous Communication

Since OSHA has failed to proactively address hazardous communication of combustible dust hazards, the Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Blog will be providing pertinent information to interested stakeholders who wish to prevent and mitigate future incidents.

Todays post at the Combustible Dust Policy Institute will begin with signage that is used in the European ATEX 137 Combustible Dust Program, which is part of the
explosion protection document.


The directive requires that all areas classified as hazardous be identified with a warning sign. The sign must be triangular, black on yellow with the text Ex. The signs must be displayed at points of entry into explosive atmospheres

The Combustible Dust Policy Institute (CDPI) is especially concerned regarding firefighters who respond to fires not knowing that the facility utilizes non-hazardous combustible particulate solids that generate explosive atmospheres of seemingly harmless combustible dust. Of major concern is a primary and secondary combustible dust explosions occuring while the firefighters are inside the building.

November 14, 2005 -And in Iowa, two firefighters are recovering today after two explosions at a Pella (Iowa) company. The Pella fire chief says a dust explosion ignited a fire inside the American Wood Fibers plant early Sunday afternoon.

As firefighters tried to put out the fire, another explosion took place. Two firefighters suffered hand injuries as concrete and metal flew through the air. One firefighter was treated and released from a hospital. The other had to be airlifted to a Des Moines hospital. His condition has not been released.

This isn't the first time there's been trouble at American Wood Fibers. Back in December of 2002, an explosion and fire consumed the plant. Police believe wood dust caused that explosion.

Placement of the signs at all entry points will provide the necessary initial hazardous communication to everyone in the vicinity of a potentially explosive atmosphere during normal operating hours in addition to fire emergencies. Yesterday an event in Hamilton, Ontario Canada where firefighters responded to a factory blaze that contained rat poisons, which they had no knowledge of while fighting the fire. If warning signs like to NFPA 704 signs were located on the outside of the building maybe proper warning would of been communicated and fire crews could assess the hazards accordingly

NPFA 704 signage at building entry points is just one example to illustrate the importance in communicating the hazard in a real scenario. Explosive atmosphere signage would work in the same manner as it currently is required in the European Union. Our brave and dedicated firefighters require the same amount of transparency upon arriving on the scene of a facility fire.

Firefighters injured in dust dxplosion

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