Saturday, April 19, 2008

Failure Knowledge Database-JST

An excellent resource in studying the cause an effects of accidents can be found at the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST website. Under the direction of Professor Yotaro Hatamura (Kogakuin Univ.), a Failure Knowledge Database was developed. Several of the incidents involve combustible dusts and it is very helpful browsing and reviewing all the incidents. This would be a fantastic tool to implement in the United States in assisting industry in the prevention of reoccurring predictable and preventable ComDustX accidents. Question is, who would enter the data and would the manufacturing industry provide such hush-hush information?

Costly Information
Currently, in order to learn about combustible dusts, one has to spend hundreds of dollars to attend out-of-state educational sessions at conferences and seminars. Many stakeholders which include millions of workers in the manufacturing industries, don't have several weeks of their paycheck to spend for such an outlay on these educational endeavors. More information needs to be available freely on the Internet, like the Japan Science and Technology Agency has provided.

Global Resources
On the other side of the globe, the Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BGIA in Germany has a free database of combustion and explosion characteristics of dusts from more than 4000 dust samples across a wide spectrum of industries. Why doesn't the United States have such a database? Up until 1996, the U.S. Bureau of Mines was the primary organization conducting scientific research and providing information on combustible dusts. Now, after over a decade, the agency is gone with no replacement . Where is the leadership in government in providing the data that our industrial infrastructure needs?

Instead the nation has to resort to Acts of Congress, like an act of war in providing safety standards regarding workplace safety issues. Standardization in preventive and mitigative measures is only one aspect of the pyramid. Transparency and ease in availability of vital information is also required. For example, you have two manufacturing processes exactly alike. One on the East Coast, the other on the West Coast. Suppose a ComDustX incident occurs on the West Coast due too a static electricity source. Wouldn't it be prudent to share that information with the entire industry in the prevention of future electrostatic ComDustX incidents? But no, this isn't done in the U.S., it takes several years for information availability.

Global Collaboration
Japan and Germany are just two countries which are also our global trading and security partners. There are many other nations spanning the globe that governmental, industry, and academia need to collaborate with concerning the complex subject of ComDustX. Why waste time and other resources if specialized work and programs have already been successfully implemented? A global Internet revolution on combustible dust is in order.

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