Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Antiquated OSHA General Industry Standards is the Problem

Several OSHA General Industry Standards already specify combustible dust such as hazardous (classified) locations, powered industrial trucks, and ventilation. The problem is that a majority of OSHA general industry standards are antiquated and do not reflect the 21st century where technology and the wealth of knowledge has exceeded the level from when a majority of OSHA standards were initially written over three decades ago.

It's easy for local elected officials to demand that a separate standard be developed for combustible dust when they have no understanding that combustible dust explosions are propagating explosions like vapor could explosions and require similar layers of protection concerning damaging overpressure effects, harmful thermal radiation, and life threatening ensuing projectiles.

A separate standard for combustible dust only further deviates from the fact that combustible dust poses a potentially explosive atmosphere like flammable gases, vapors, and mists. An excellent example of global protective and mitigative measures would be the ATEX Directives for explosive atmospheres that our international trading partners have implemented in the European Union.

The realistic urgent issue nationwide regarding propagating explosions is not dust explosions but the multitude of flammable liquid, vapor, and gas explosions that have plagued the nation's workplace. Since 2003, the Chemical Safety Board has investigated two dozen of these incidents compared to only four combustible dust incidents in nearly a decade.

In a politically and emotionally charged environment the hard and true facts are being misreported in governmental press releases that all fatalities and injuries since 1980 have occurred due to dust explosions. This totally contradicts the results of the CSB governmental 2006 Dust Hazard Study, which reported that combustible dust related fires and explosions are the culprit, not solely explosions.

Over 80% of the combustible dust incidents in 2008, according to media accounts, were fires not dust explosions. Any workplace fatality or injury is one to many. Fortunately in 2008, excluding the Imperial Sugar explosion, the human toll was minimal. The few injuries that did occur consisted of flash fire burn injuries and would not even come up on the radar as a national problem, in contrast to the rash of recent workplace flammable liquid, gas, and vapor explosions.

Jumping to incorrect conclusions that dust explosions with fatalities are prevalent and occur on a regular basis does not reflect current reality. The Imperial Sugar Refinery explosion was tragic and preventable. Something definitely needs to be done with the current OSHA regulatory scheme. But a separate dust standard is the wrong direction. If good housekeeping in removing the fuel load was adhered to as outlined in the current OSHA General Industry Standards then the secondary devastating dust explosions in the Imperial Sugar and prior catastrophic 2003 incidents would never have occurred.

To further complicate the matter is the call by legislators to supersede the OSHA combustible dust rulemaking process with a bill that would force OSHA to enact a standard four months after the bill became law. This is economically unrealistic in a time when the nation is experiencing the worst recession since the 1930’s with many facilities shutting down permanently and laying of workers.

Already through OSHA’s targeted national emphasis program through combustible dust enforcement and citation activities, businesses have began to lay-off workers so as to implement costly abatement actions. It’s just a matter of time following a proposed separate combustible dust standard or bill that many more small businesses in the manufacturing sector will be force to close down.

In conclusion, there needs to be an equitable balance between occupational safety and business economics, which reflects the reality of potential workplace fatalities and injuries due to combustible dust related fires and explosions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Breakfast Discussion Prior to ComDust Stakeholder Meeting

Stakeholders, come join us in Washington, D.C. for a 7:00 A.M. -8:30 A.M Breakfast Discussion, December 14 2009, in the Latrobe Room (Constitution Level 3B) at the Grand Hyatt Washington prior to the 9:00 AM OSHA Combustible Dust ANPRM stakeholder meeting.

The gathering on 1000 H Street NW, across the street from the Washington Marriott at Metro Center will provide an opportunity for a cross spectrum of stakeholders to briefly discuss, compare notes, and share ideas on important aspects of the OSHA Combustible Dust Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM).

With over 200 questions in the ComDust ANPRM that OSHA is seeking data, information, and comment that covers fifteen major topics, the morning discussion prior to the stakeholder meeting will be an interesting and lively event. Representatives from government, industry, standards developing organizations, research and testing, unions, trade associations, insurance, fire protection equipment manufacturers, consultants, and others are all invited to the early morning venue.

During the lunch break from 12:00-1:00 P.M. the Latrobe Room will also be open so stakeholders can meet and briefly discuss topics prior to the afternoon 1:00 P.M. -4:00 P.M. OSHA ComDust ANPRM stakeholder meeting.

OSHA plans on directing the stakeholder meetings to cover topics of possible regulatory approaches, scope, organization of a prospective standard, role of consensus standards, economic impacts, and additional topics as time permits. Additionally, OSHA will select approximately 35 stakeholders across a spectrum of industry sectors and affiliations for each of the sessions from the registrant pool that the Eastern Research Group (ERG) is compiling. Furthermore, members of the general public are welcome to attend the meeting, but not participate. Seating for the public is limited, so it is a first-come, first served basis.

Contact Info
Please contact me if you desire to attend the Breakfast Discussion so as to ensure there is adequate seating. Currently, I've reserved space in the Latrobe Room for 35 participants. Please send an email to and I'll reply promptly. Thank you.

Pyroban-Explosion Proof (EX)ForkLifts
Dantherm Filtration, Inc-Dust Extraction
Nilfisk CFM- Explosion Proof Vacuums
Ashburn Hill Corp.-Flame Resistant Clothing
Fauske Associates, LLC -Combustible Dust Testing


Federal Register Notice-OSHA ComDust ANPRM Stakeholder Meeting
Registration-ANPRM Stakeholder Meeting
OSHA Combustible Dust; Proposed Rule
Google Map Stakeholders Meetings-Washington, D.C.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grain Elevator Dryer Explosion (Dust Explosion)

a small explosion came from a grain dryer near the elevator around 8:45 a.m. - two employees nearby were hurt in the blast, one was working on a platform on the grain dryer at the time of the explosion - one worker was taken to a hospital and the other flown by air ambulance to a hospital - no other details at this time.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Sensible solution for the Combustible Dust standard...that creates private sector jobs and provides FREE training for companies impacted by the std

Two paths to choose from:
1) add CD as a PSM covered chemcial without a threshold assigned to it. Why can we not establish a threshold? Unlike other PSM chemicals, CD is a hazard when it is OUTSIDE of the process and allowed to accumulate over time. This is unique to CD and if we set a threshold of even 100 pounds, then those who do not exceed this would be exempt. However, they process say 50 pounds of dust a year (VERY LOW) and over 10 years do you think they may have enough dust on the ledges and hidden drop ceilings to cause an explosion. So my take is no threshold. The PSM standard is a great standard and lays out the frame work of a management system for companies to follow.

The second path would be to mirror the frame work from the PRCS standard where the employer "conducts an evaluation" to determine the applicability of the standard. This path may be troublesome based on a recent OSHRC decision that vacated some OSHA citations where an employer did an evaluation without even visiting the spaces and no documentation. OSHRC stated that 1910.146 does not qualify who and how the eval is to be done and if a company says they did one, then OSHA can not cite them for determining a PRCS is not one and killing a worker.

EDUCATION is the key! With that said, we already have a GREAT frame work in place to educate businesses, safety professionals, engineers, and workers. OSHA's outreach training program could be revamped (since they are making major changes already due to issues with the program) to include a SPECIAL Combustible Dust course. Using the Susan Howard Training grants in 2010, OSHA develops a national training program, trains the trainers just like the OSHA 500/501 courses, and then uses the grant money to provide FREE training for businesses and professionals. If you are the one that will be doing a CD hazard evaluation, you MUST have completed the OSHA 30-hr CD course, which you can get for FREE. Each area office or regional office would select a reputable firm in their area as the FREE outreach instructors and that company would have to offer at least 12 courses for the next 12 months. These courses are FREE and the training company would be paid by OSHA and the company would use the OSHA training program. The training could be attended by consultants and company safety professionals alike. But any one doing a CD eval MUST have completed the 30-hour course. You would also become a SGE as we see used in VPP Assessment and could be a resource for OSHA to help out with CD inspections. Companies would have a choice...sign up for an SGE to do an inspection of your facility voluntarily or wait for OSHA to show up with a team using the CD CPL. We keep hearing that companies need help and this would provide OSHA with a set of eyes in the field looking specifically at this hazard as well as provide non-OSHA personnel as a resource to any businesses who want some help with their CD hazards. The SGE would almost be like the "consulting" side of OSHA where they make recommendations but have no enforcement role.

Even if we do not do the SGE, I think OSHA (if they are serious about this) should use the 2010 Susan Howard Grant money to focus solely on CD Hazard training. OSHA develops a OSHA 502 course for CD training. Anyone who attends the course becomes a certified OSHA CD Outreach training. Then OSHA uses the grant money to pay these instructors to conduct these outreach courses. The 10 hour is just a CD awareness course and the 30-hour certifies you to be able to conduct a CD hazard evaluation. The grant money is used to pay for the course and course materials so there is NO deterrent to companies sending their employees. It helps small businesses on both side of the standard: 1) those who have CD at their business can get free training and resources that OSHA has trained using OSHA materials and 2) it helps small private consulting firm by them doing the training over a one year period.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Forklift Operations in Potentially Explosive Atmospeheres

I'd like to share this post that was authored by Robert Zuiderveld, General Manager at Pyroban Corp in the ComDust discussion group.

The recent article by contributing editor Tom Andel,"Keeping forklifts out of explosive situations," clearly illustrates that the majority of stakeholders do not understand the complexities involved in or consequences resulting from operating non- compliant powered industrial equipment in potentially explosion hazardous areas. Even though I appreciate the attention the article is putting on the issues at hand I am concerned with some in the information and statements published in the article.


According to the OSHA IMIS citation and violation data, CAL-OSHA has not written a single OSHA 1910.178. C01 or C02 citation between Jan 1, 2003 and the present. Yet according to the NFIRS data approximately 432 fires were started by powered industrial equipment in California between 2003 and 2007.

As a matter of fact OSHA regions 9 and 10 (entire West Coast region) experienced approximately 600 and 742 fires respectively (according to the NFIRS), while only one (1) OSHA 1910.178. C01 citation was written (Nevada in 2003) between Jan 1, 2003 and the present in both regions.

I can only wonder why CAL-OSHA publishes an article about equipment fire and explosion safety while they appear to have completely ignored enforcement of the issue for at least 6 years?

Lack of Ex Hazard Awareness
I also have to question these statements:

“The problem is it’s not easy or cheap to find replacements,” he says. “For example, an electric forklift designed for heavy use in an outdoor location is not easy to come by. A number of my clients are concerned because they’ve been cited for having unapproved forklifts in their outdoor locations. We’re not sure what the fix is but we know it will be pretty expensive. You can’t use gasoline fired engines because of the various ignition sources. Now they’re coming after diesel.”

Availability of equipment:
The industry offers EX solution for diesel and electric powered trucks which are compliant with ATEX codes and regulation and can and may be safely operated in US facilities handling flammable materials. They are pretty easy to find for anybody with access to a computer, the Internet and the ability to type in “explosion proof forklift truck” in a Google, Yahoo or Bing search engine.

Cost of the equipment:
Yes, explosion protected equipment is more expensive than conventional equipment types. However when you compare their price to the cost involved in injuries, fatalities or adverse economic effects after an fire or explosions incident, there really is not that much money difference. Besides that it appears that litigious nature of society is eager to put a price on a human life, so I would like to challenge anyone to come up with putting a cost on a human life which lower than the cost of an EX forklift truck.

Equipment approvals:
It is true that UL approved EX diesel equipment is hard to find, for that matter none existent. This is due to the fact that UL never develop HAZLOC codes, regulations, construction specification or testing procedures for IC powered industrial equipment used in explosion hazardous areas.

ATEX ATmosphères EXplosibles
OSHA however has not objected to the use of ATEX compliant conversion in explosion hazardous areas in US as long as it passes a hazardous equivalency test and evidence of certification can be provided. OSHA has not cited companies using internationally certified EX equipment because of two little know OSHA enforcement facts:

1. OSHA has the “burden of proof” that equipment is unsafe
2. OSHA will allow the use of international certified equipment if not US certified alternative exists

ATEX certified solutions are available to industry and they meet both criteria, especially when it comes to diesel powered explosion proof equipment.

OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks
And these equipment type suitability/approval claims:

“OSHA’s diesel designations include DS (with safeguards to the exhaust, fuel and electrical systems) and DY (with all the safeguards of DS units plus temperature limitation features). The only forklifts approved for Division 1 hazardous locations are electric-powered, designated EX (with safeguards for use in atmospheres containing flammable vapors or dusts). DS, DY, EE (enclosed electrical equipment) and EX are approved for Division 2.”

Crucial Mistake
Unfortunately OSHA is making a commonly made crucial mistake by implying the suitability of UL approved DS, DY and EE equipment types for use in explosion hazardous areas. UL does not test, certify or approve the use of these equipment types for use in explosion hazardous areas. If equipment is tested and certified for hazardous areas, the appropriate hazardous area classification will be shown on the ID tag of the equipment. If contact your equipment OEM or UL for a written statement of the hazardous area suitability of the of DS, DY and EE type you will be able to quickly verify this info.

Authority Having Jurisdiction:
Keep in mind Lawyers are not listed in the NEC/NFPA standards as an Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and their technical judgment of equipment suitability or code interpretation is completely irrelevant.

More interesting to the law factor is the actual US product law:

To amend title 18 of the United States Code to penalize the knowing and reckless introduction of a defective product into interstate commerce. IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

September 7, 2000
Mr. SPECTER introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

A BILL To amend title 18 of the United States Code to penalize the knowing and reckless introduction of a defective product into interstate commerce. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.

(a) A 'defective' product is one with a flaw in design, manufacture, assembly, or instruction which renders the product dangerous to human life and limb beyond the reasonable and accepted risk associated with such or similar products lacking such a flaw.

(b) To 'introduce' a product into the stream of interstate commerce is to manufacture, assemble, import, sell, or otherwise produce or transfer the product in question.

(c) 'Person' means the employees of any corporation, company, association, firm,
partnership, or other business entity.

(d) 'Serious bodily injury' means bodily injury which involves--
(1) a substantial risk of death;
(2) extreme physical pain; or
(3) protected or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.

(a) A person who in gross deviation from a reasonable standard of care introduces into interstate commerce a product known by that person to be defective which causes the death of any individual shall be guilty of murder in the second degree and shall be imprisoned for a term of up to fifteen years.

(b) A person who in gross deviation from a reasonable standard of care introduces into interstate commerce a defective product which causes serious bodily injury to any individual shall be imprisoned for a term of up to 5 years.

Post By
: Robert Zuiderveld


OSHA Powered industrial trucks. - 1910.178

NFPA 505: Fire Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks

Contact Info
Robert Zuiderveld-General Manager at Pyroban Corp.
T: +1-973-748-0760
F: +1-973-842-0508

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

OSHA Underground No More

Many visitors here on the ComDust site, have also have visited the OSHA Underground site where a diverse spectrum of health and safety information could be found. Unfortunately the OSHA Underground site was removed a few days ago and visitors will no longer be able to read the helpful information that Kane and contributing authors provided concerning workplace health and safety issues.

As a contributing author, I was much at loss as others into what happened. Especially with all the great content, now vanished at the click of a mouse, that Kane and others provided through comments and posts. To a large extent the ability to write and post content on OSHA Underground as a contributing author enabled me to continue successfully in my combustible dust research project. On many a occasions, Kane and numerous visitors on the site always provided welcome encouragement to continue, which provided the much needed extra boost following hundreds of hours of researching combustible dust incidents.

Recently Abel, the owner of OSHA Aboveground site, obtained an e-mail from Google, the owners of Blogger. I'd like to share with others the content of the email:

Google has received a subpoena for information related to anonymous comments posted on your blog. The case is entitled Secretary of Labor v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., United States Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Case number SDT-9-0181.

To comply with the law, unless you or an anonymous commenter provide us with a copy of a motion to quash the subpoena (or other formal objection filed in court) via email at by 5pm Pacific Time on November 26, 2009, Google will assume you do not have an objection to production of the requested information and may provide responsive documents on this date.

For more information about the subpoena, you may wish to contact the party seeking this information at:

Michael D. Billok
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036

So that's it. I called Mr. Billok, the attorney representing Wal-Mart and he could not legally provide any additional information that wasn't already in the above letter. It appears that the OSHA Underground site was voluntarily removed by Kane, the owner of the site.

This is a bittersweet ending to the recent award that LexisNexis bestowed on the OSHA Underground as one of the Top 25 Blogs for 2009. I was honored to be one of the four contributing authors in addition to Kane that wrote on subjects concerning workplace issues, which potentially had an impact amongst the readers.

Since the site is down and I can't express my feelings there, so here on the ComDust site I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to all the OSHA Underground readers for your support with your diverse comments that made the site so special as a unique outlet in discussing workplace health and safety issues. Like a friend that you grew up together with in the old neighborhood, all that is left is good memories from those days gone by.

Alternative: Facility Licensing that Generate Combustible Dust

I'd like to share this post that was authored by Timothy Anderson, Owner, Allfeed Process and Packaging Inc in the ComDust discussion group.

Information is powerful and it’s easy to become complacent when life experiences do not match the statistics. For instance, when you operate fork trucks for 30 years and never heard of an LPS classification of forklift or understood that there are also additional classes of electric fork trucks, then its easy to stop looking or stop asking questions to answers you didn't knew exist. Additionally, when the OEM (original equipment manufacturer), does not enlighten you or when OSHA inspectors visit your facility, when you have two, then three, then four trucks, and says nothing until you have ten forklifts then fines you $60,000 dollars, you then immediately realize you can not count on them (and shouldn't) for the answers.

Having farmed for some years (late 70’s to mid 80’s) it was common a few times each day to open the engine compartment to put out the embers from soybean or corn dust that accumulated on the engine and were smoldering. We never looked to see if there were any, there always were, we were just hunting them down.

In the grain elevator business, running corn dryers, we did fire watches each hour. Again not to look to see if there were hot spots but to find the ones that were always there. So in the feed business, when we get done running our LP or diesel equipment, we simply blew down the motors and put out any embers that might be there, and sometimes there are.

This is how it has been done for a long time. I agree with the changes that are coming down the pike but don’t agree with how they are coming down. Licensing is the real answer. Upgrade the test annually so changes are small. These pendulum swings from no knowledge to no tolerance is bad business.

Posted by Timothy Anderson

Combustible Dust Discussion Group

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wanna play the OSHA 191.178 C02 lottery?

I'd like to share this post that was authored by Robert Zuiderveld, General Manager at Pyroban Corp in the ComDust discussion group. It is an interesting and informative post as it provides insight regarding equipment protection levels of powered industrial trucks and equipment type’s suitability in a potentially combustible dust explosive atmosphere. OSHA PIT 1910.178 violations where third most cited violation according to the recent OSHA status report of the Dust NEP program

Robert Zuiderveld analyzed OHSA citations given for OSHA 1910.178 C02 violations for powered industrial trucks (use of improper equipment types in explosion hazardous areas) between 2003 and 2008.

2003 - 10 citations
2004 -18 citations
2005 -14 citations
2006 -16 citations
2007 -18 citations
2008 -31 citations

Units Sold

During that same time the following estimated number of “rated” forklift trucks (“S”, EE & DY types) were sold based on a 2% market share of total trucks sold (figure agreed upon by forklift OEMs)

2003 - approx. 2800 ES, EE, LPS, DS, DY units sold
2004 - approx. 3300, ES, EE, LPS, DS, DY units sold
2005 - approx. 3600, ES, EE, LPS, DS, DY units sold
2006 - approx. 3800, ES, EE, LPS, DS, DY units sold
2007 - approx. 3500, ES, EE, LPS, DS, DY units sold
2008 - approx. 3000, ES, EE, LPS, DS, DY units sold


According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) during this same time period the following number of fires were ignited by forklift trucks and loader:

2003 – 532 fires (+/- 2233 fires if you incl. construction equipment, cranes and misc ind. equipment)
2004 - 572 fires (+/- 2469 fires if you incl. construction equipment, cranes and misc ind. equipment)
2005 - 657 fires (+/- 2795 fires if you incl. construction equipment, cranes and misc ind. equipment)
2006 -686 fires(+/- 2982 fires if you incl. construction equipment, cranes and misc ind. equipment)
2007 -795 fires (+/- 3149 fires if you incl. construction equipment, cranes and misc ind. equipment)
2008 –not available yet

Equipment Protection Levels

Based on this data, it appears that OSHA inspectors may lack the ability to recognize equipment protection levels and equipment type’s suitability allowing the use of equipment types which are not tested, certified or suitable for use in the Class I and Class II explosion hazardous areas.

Additionally it appears that OSHA enforcement and fines are inconsistent. Citations for 1910.178 C02 are none existent or far and few between in some of the states with the highest number of forklift fires.

If you are located in CA for example you have nothing to worry about. CAL-OSHA appears to be too busy with CARB to address equipment fire safety issues.

Fines have been relatively low ($250 – $2500), unless you have an incident that arouses OSHA scrutiny. Then things get really ugly really quick.

Imperial Sugar $350,000.00
All-feed $35,000.00

Off course if you are an oil refinery a different set of rules appear to apply, since BP Texas City nor Calumet, Shreveport were cited for using unprotected industrial equipment, even though a pickup truck and a vacuum truck were responsible for igniting those explosions.

Many more examples, mostly not cited by OSHA, can be found on our site at:

Why the double standard....only OSHA knows

With 45,000 Dust facilities to inspect (for some unknown reason these industries with known dust fire hazards were not included in the OSHA NEP SIC lists: paper related industries, ethanol plants, Cotton farms) and probably a similar number of companies handling Class I flammable materials. OSHA has its work cut out for them and your chances of getting audited may be similar to your chance of winning the lottery.


Thanks Robert for the valuable insight. Fantastic job on the excellent research and sharing with others

Contact Info
Robert Zuiderveld-General Manager at Pyroban Corp.
T: +1-973-748-0760
F: +1-973-842-0508

Combustible Dust ANPRM-Stakeholder Meeting

OSHA invites interested parties to participate in informal stakeholder meetings on the workplace hazards of combustible dust. OSHA plans to use the information gathered at these meetings in developing a proposed standard for combustible dust.

OSHA believes the stakeholder meeting discussion should center on major issues such as:

• Possible regulatory approaches
• Scope
• Organization of a prospective standard
• The role of consensus standards
• Economic impacts
• Additional topics as time permit

Meetings Location
The December 14, 2009, meetings will be held at the Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th Street, N.W., Washington, DC, 20005. The 2010 meeting dates and locations will be announced in one or more subsequent notices.

Dates/Times for the stakeholder meetings are:

• December 14, 2009, at 9 a.m., in Washington, DC
• December 14, 2009, at 1 p.m., in Washington, DC
• Additional meetings are planned for early 2010, and will be announced in
one or more subsequent notices.

Submit your notice of intent to participate in one of the scheduled or future stakeholder meetings with the following weblink:

• Electronic. Register at
(follow the instructions online).

Google Map

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Read the OSHA General Industry Standards Lately?

Out of curiosity I thought I'd review a few of the applicable OSHA General Industry Standards as they relate to combustible dust citations. This interest especially came about after the recent OSHA STATUS REPORT on the COMBUSTIBLE DUST NATIONAL EMPHASIS PROGRAM. In addition to General Duty Clause citations for combustible dust, facilities are also cited due to violations of the OSHA General Industry Standards. For example the status report lists several general industry regulations violations in Figure 6. Number of Combustible Dust Related Violations

The report states, "Hazard Communication standard is the standard most frequently cited with respect to combustible dust related hazards, followed by the housekeeping standard." On a prior ComDust post mention was made of the powered industrial trucks, which was the third most cited general industry violation. But then I got to thinking, "what about the OSHA Ventilation Standard 1910.94"?

OSHA Ventilation Standard

Reviewing the standards online it is interesting to note that 1910.94 is mostly concerned with industrial hygiene as it relates to grinding, polishing, buffing, abrasive blasting, and spray finishing operations. Elements of combustible dust fire and explosion protection is noted briefly in the definitions applicable to ventilation 1910.94(a)(2)(iii). Specifically, incorporated by reference as specified in § 1910.6. National Fire Protection Association Explosion Venting Guide, NFPA 68-1954. Okay that's great. But what does that 1954 at the end of NFPA 68 mean? After-all it is over a half a century later, here in 2009. That couldn't mean the year 1954, no way..?

Well as I always do, and ending up getting in more trouble, I decided to turn up more rocks and find out for myself. Sure enough a click here and a select there, and I'm on the NFPA site viewing NFPA 68 and reading the origins and development of NFPA 68. Well sure enough, NFPA was first printed as a guide using "rules of thumb," for explosions venting. I believe that was before the Russian Sputnik satellite was launched, which initiated America's space race.

ComDust NEP Status Report
The recent ComDust NEP status report summarizes some General Duty Clause citations issued by OSHA under the Combustible Dust NEP. Nearly half of these GDC citations in the summary have to do with ventilation such as ductwork, dust collectors, air handling, etc. It appears facility stakeholders have no clue in proper ventilation best engineering practices and procedures in minimizing the combustible dust fire and explosion hazards. Well after reviewing the OSHA ventilation standards and noting the sparsity of any information and guidance except reference to an over half a century NFPA standard it's no wonder there are so many of these GDC citations.

Now the primary argument in the recently published OSHA combustible dust ANPRM that a separate combustible dust standard is needed and in a recent OSHA news release is:

"The NEP has resulted in an unusually high number of general duty clause violations, indicating a strong need for a combustible dust standard. The general duty clause is not as effective as a comprehensive combustible dust standard would be at protecting workers."

Overhaul General Industry Standards

Of course there would be an unusually high number of GDC's especially with the outdated OSHA General Industry Standards, that were written over three decades ago. Smoke and mirrors are fine and dandy attending the circus once a year when it comes to town. But how can we even begin to start a national discourse on any separate standard when the problem lies squarely in a much needed overhaul of the OSHA General Industry Standards?

Look at HazCom, no mention of the physical properties issue as it relates to midstream in the manufacturing life-cycle. Housekeeping is hidden beneath Subpart D: Walking-Working Surfaces and can't even find the word "fire" in the General Requirements. Then there is PPE, with chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants. What about PPE for thermal radiation hazards from flash fires?

The list goes on and on with these outdated OSHA General Industry Standards that don't reflect the current situation in the workplace that was not initially acknowledged in an entirely different era of the 1970's when our American troops were in Vietnam and it was still cool to go to the movie drive-in, watching the Godfather.

Protection of the workplace from hazards will need dozens more separate standards like the proposed combustible dust standard, if the dire situation continues in not addressing the current outdated General Industry Standards. So have you read them lately?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Authority Having Jurisdiction-ComDust Explosive Atmospheres

I'd like to share this post that was authored by Robert Zuiderveld, General Manager at Pyroban Corp in the ComDust discussion group. It is an interesting and informative post as it provides insight regarding AHJ approval of powered industrial truck in a potentially combustible dust explosive atmosphere.OSHA PIT 1910.178 violations where third most cited violation according to the recent OSHA status report of the Dust NEP program

John called me and asked, " if getting a letter from a AHJ other than OSHA stating that the use of "S" type equipment in 1910.178 - Powered industrial trucks. 1910.178(c) Designated locations, Dust hazardous areas is OK and would satisfy OSHA regulatory requirements?"

NFPA 70 (aka NEC):
I always go back to this document since it is one of the few that get regularly updated and actually offers good answers to many questions in article 500:

Page 70-360 paragraph 500.8(A) states: Suitability of identified equipment shall be determined by one of the following:

(1) Equipment listing or labeling
(2) Evidence of equipment evaluation from a qualified testing laboratory or inspection agency concerned with product evaluation (RZ note: NOT necessarily and NRTL).
(3) Evidence acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction such as a manufacturer’s self evaluation or an owners engineering judgment.

Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
An organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure.

FPN: The phrase "authority having jurisdiction," or its acronym AHJ, is used in NFPA documents in a broad manner, since jurisdictions and approval agencies vary, as do their responsibilities. Where public safety is primary, the authority having jurisdiction may be a federal, state, local, or other regional department or individual such as a fire chief; fire marshal; chief of a fire prevention bureau, labor department, or health department: building official; electrical inspector; or others having statutory authority.

For insurance purposes, an insurance inspection department, rating bureau, or other insurance company representative may be the authority having jurisdiction. In many circumstances, the property owner or his or her designated agent assumes the role of the authority having jurisdiction; at government installations, the commanding officer or departmental official may be the authority having jurisdiction.

At the end of the day the burden of proof that equipment is unsafe rests on OSHA shoulders. You can get a letter from the Pope, but if OSHA can easily prove that your practices endanger the welfare of your employees then you are in violation. If they take you to court, and evidence is so obvious that they are right, you are out of even more money. This is the case with using any UL approved “S” type in any explosion hazardous areas. It is not a question if it is going to happen, more a question of when?

If you don’t wear a seat belt while driving a car, you will be fine until you get into an accident. If you use UL approved "S" type equipment in explosion hazardous areas you will most likely start a fire or blow yourself when an accidental release takes place.

It is possible to challenge a OSHA judgment, but you must be able to substantiate your claims and provide evidence. Historic fact is not a solid defense in the age of IT. -Robert Zuiderveld

John's Note:
Robert is referring to type S equipment, in NFPA 505, which you'll find in the top row of Table 4.2 Summary Table on Use of Powered Industrial Trucks.

In row 13, For Class II Division 2 Group G, you'll notice 11 different types of equipment that are listed, seven which require AHJ approval. But thats the problem, these haven't be certified for explosive atmosphere. Only EX is certified for explosive atmosphere by UL.

Contact Info
Robert Zuiderveld-General Manager at Pyroban Corp.
T: +1-973-748-0760
F: +1-973-842-0508

Ignition source protection gaps
UL Letter- Explosive Atmospheres Certification
NFPA 505
Powered Industrial Trucks

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Combustible Dust Webinar-Free

A guide to the prevention of combustible dust hazards through the use of proper cleaning equipment

Please Join: Nilfisk and Occupational Health and Safety
Topic: A guide to the prevention of combustible dust hazards through the use of proper cleaning equipment.


Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Time: 2 PM (EST), 11 AM (PST)

Combustible dust-related fires and explosions have been a danger since the dawn of manufacturing; and while these accidents are not 100% preventable, manufacturers should not view them as inevitable. Facilities can significantly reduce the risk of a combustible dust accident by putting in place best-engineering practices – practices that include a solid maintenance plan in order to reduce or eliminate dangerous dust that settles on floors, walls, machinery, and overhead areas.

This interactive webinar will provide attendees with a basic understanding of the combustible dust issue and discuss critical housekeeping tips and recommendations as they pertain to OSHA’s NEP on Combustible Dust and Nilfisk CFM’s first-hand experiences.

OSHA Flammable Liquid, Gas, and Vapor Regulation Next?

"Fire breaks out at oil refinery north of SLC"

Seems like a week doesn't go by that one doesn't hear about another facility exploding or catching on fire due to flammable liquids, gases, or vapors. Since 2003 the Chemical Safety Board has investigated nearly two dozen of these incidents. Now with this recent incident hitting the news wire, CSB will also investigate another refinery fire in Salt Lake City. So is it time now for a separate OSHA Flammable Liquid, Gas, and Vapor Regulation next? After all, a separate OSHA combustible dust regulation is in the works.

Explosive Atmospheres
Potentially explosive concentrations of gas, vapor or mist in the air, also includes concentrations of dust in the air. Amazingly, the explosive effects are all the same with overpressure, thermal radiation, and ensuing projectiles. In fact a vapor cloud explosion is a propagating explosion like a dust explosion, where there is a pressure wave and flame/reaction front in both. The main difference between vapors and combustible dust is a lower ignition sensitivity (MIE) with vapors.

No I guess it wouldn't make sense to have a separate OSHA Flammable Liquid, Gas, and Vapor Regulation. That makes as much sense as having a separate OSHA combustible dust regulation. What needs to be done instead is for all stakeholders to acknowledge that combustible dust is a potentially explosive atmosphere like all the rest. A separate dust regulation only further deviates from the issue that what we got here is one nasty hombre that needs the same respect as all the other explosive atmospheres. Check out elements of the ATEX directive from our global trading partners in the EU to get an idea of how the wheel does not need to be reinvented.

Dust ANPRM -Physical Properties
Acknowledging combustible dust as a potentially explosive atmosphere will go a long way in fixing the broken OSHA HazCom standard. The recent combustible dust ANPRM did not even mention the physical properties aspect that CSB found was deficient in the 140 MSDS's they surveyed in the 2006 Dust Hazard Study. It's like how would the raw product manufacturer of milk have any idea that his product had inherent explosive severity and ignition sensitivity characteristics? Midstream in the life-cycle at the milk powder plant with the spray dryers is an entirely different situation.

We all have heard it, in all the recent press releases over the past 20 months that a separate dust regulation will prevent dust explosions. Well of course if you shut down the entire manufacturing sector you would prevent primary explosions. But its not the primary explosions that resulted in the catastrophic events of Imperial Sugar and the devastating toll of the three dust explosions in 2003. It was the secondary explosions fueled by poor housekeeping. Simply remove the fuel load and you won't have a secondary dust explosion. In contrast, primary dust explosions will never be totally prevented, only the severity and probability reduced with appropiate layers of protection.

Majority Incidents-Fires
Last year there was over 150 combustible dust related fires and explosions in the manufactruing, non-manufacturing, and utility sectors. Not counting Imperial Sugar, the human toll was minimal in comparison to any other industry. Any fatality or injury is one too many. Yet, the severity of injuries would of even been less if the workers had donned flame resistant clothing. Over 80% of the incidents in 2008 were combustible dust related fires not explosions. Most incidents barely get notice in the news because thankfully there's no fatalities or injuries, only minor economic damage to the facility.

All combustible dust related fires and explosions need to be addressed in the realm of occupational health and safety. Already dusts are mentioned in several OSHA general industry regulations. So lets stop fooling around and get the specific wording "combustible dust" in the rest if the OSHA general industry regulations like is done with flammable liquids, gases, and vapors.

Failure to Communicate
It's frustrating to see all the mention of the issue solely on the process materials (dust). What about process conditions and process situations? You can't be identifying, evaluating, and controlling the hazard without recognizing the entire triad. Sort of reminds me of the scene in the 1967 movie, "Cool Hand Luke," when the Captain tells Luke, ""What we've got here is...failure to communicate." In this case of dust, there is a need to communicate the entire risk in the national policy making dialogue.

The issue of combustible dust incidents is a process situation where a majority of facilities have similiar processes that include bulk storage, material transfer, pnuematic conveying, duct systems, pressure relief devices, material feeding devices, belts, drives, conveyors, air material separators, mixers/blenders, dryers, etc. The only difference is the type of process materials (dust) spread out over 400 national industries in the industrial sector. A Hybrid Process Safety Management (PSM) standard for combustible dust is in order. Why keep trying to reinvent the wheel when a majority of PSM elements already are incorporated in the National Fire Protection Association combustible dust standards?

But again why not? Maybe a separate OSHA Flammable Liquid, Gas, and Vapor Regulation and another separate OSHA combustible dust regulation makes more sense. Just my two cents.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oops...Forgot Powered Industrial Trucks?

Figure 7. Percent Combustible Dust Related Violations Distributions

The recent status report on the OSHA combustible dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) provides helpful insight into recent targeted enforcement and inspection activities. It does get a bit bewildering in deciphering all the calculus when the numbers do not add up.

For example in Figure 6 the total combustible dust related violations is 2,214. Yet according to the introductory paragraph concerning enforcement findings, there was more than 4,900 violations. So which is it 2,214 or 4,900?

Many facility managers and owners attempting to manage the risk in addition to being regulatory compliant might just find themselves at the other end of a citation if not careful. For example, the NEP status report provides information on Violations Related to Combustible Dust Hazards:

"Under the NEP, the Hazard Communication standard is the standard most frequently cited with respect to combustible dust related hazards, followed by the housekeeping standard"

Yet there is no mention of violations in regards to powered industrial trucks in Figure 7. In contrast, review Figure 6 in the status report you'll note it's the third most frequent type of violation. So are you using an explosion-proof industrial powered truck (fork-lift)at you facility if there is combustible dust present?

Better check that factory nameplate for either DY, EE, or EX depending on the Hazardous Location Division 1 or 2
. It could be the defining difference between a costly fine or not.

On a side note
National Safety Council recently sent out a press release stating:

"The U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revealed the preliminary top 10 most-frequent workplace safety violations for 2009 as part of a presentation at the NSC's annual Congress & Expo. The number of top 10 violations has increased almost 30 percent over the same time period in 2008."

Powered Industrial Trucks is 8th on the list.

8. Powered Industrial Trucks -
2,993 violations

Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.


Combustible Dust Discussion Group
OSHA Reg 1910.178 Powered industrial trucks.
Informative article - Explosion-proof forklifts

Monday, November 2, 2009

Safety Doesn't Grow On Trees: COMDUST through the eyes of small business PART 1

I'd like to welcome guest contributor Jesse Anderson to the ComDust site. Jesse provides an interesting and informative post from the business perspective. I welcome additional guest contributors that can provide insight in regards to business concerns with combustible dust regulatory issues.

After reading the post about the general duty clause
I was inspired to share some thoughts from the perspective of a business working through general duty clause citations in regards to COMDUST.

I feel that this OSHA insider explanation of Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act is a prime example of the immature, purely prescriptive, failing nature of OSHA's approach toward COMDUST.

Immature, because it admits that the standard is vague and subjective. How can you apply this simple rationale to something as scientific, complex, and possibly deadly as COMDUST. The author uses the example:

"I'm driving along and I see people working on a scaffold at a height over 15 feet, and the scaffold has no rails. I am, of course, going to stop and conduct an inspection. "
If OSHA personnel think this example is adequate in describing the amount of insight that goes into assessing the hazards of COMDUST they are gravely mistaken. The science behind this National Emphasis Program is out there but it's currently hiding in the minds of engineers and scientists; not the minds of OSHA field agents .

Purely prescriptive, because it only addresses the symptoms and not a successful cure. In our case OSHA prescribed that we stop manufacturing our product as a method of abatement. Can you believe that? They're answer to the problem is that we not do business. OSHA would rather see employees "Out of Work" than "Safe at Work". What will be left if we pay no mind to the word "Occupation" in the acronym "OSHA". My answer: a very safe increasing amount of unemployed

Failing, because it is. The NEP report proves it:

Our Region V OSHA Assistant Area Director said that the general duty clause recognizes hazards that:

May be recognized by the industry
An unsuccessful 20% compliance says they're not recognized by the industry. In fact, our company wasn't even fortunate enough to be recognized by OSHA as one of 30,000 known dust producers. Which means that we didn't get a warning letter from the DOL as much of our competitors did. What about the 15 states that refused the National Emphasis Program on COMDUST? An entire state can simply refuse recognition of a federally mandated emphasis on COMDUST awareness but one business can't miss a single topic for fear of $42,000 fines.

May be recognized by other consensus standards
This is a cop-out. The NFPA can't fine us for half a million dollars, but OSHA can. Can anyone guess how many words there are in OSHA Standard Number 1910 on General Industry? Now we have to follow the hundreds of thousands of letters on the pages of ANSI, ASME, NFPA, etc. If it is a consensus then why are so many in industry amiss of the information and if it is all so "standard" then why is it taking so long for OSHA to write it? "Consensus Standard" is a spin on words to make small business feel stupid.

May be recognized by common sense
Please tell me who, through common sense, understands the science involved in calculating CFM and dust microns. Who here understands fire deflagration and suppression: not the deflagration and suppression experts; that's who. They are coming to our plant to try and better understand our process because it is unique. I didn't say there's not an answer. I just said it is not "common sense".

In fact the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said:
"Many industry and safety professionals lack awareness of combustible dust hazards. The widely recognized standards of good engineering practice in the NFPA's voluntary consensus standards were not being followed in many facilities. State and local fire codes were ineffective as a viable mechanism to reduce dust explosion risks in general industry nationwide."

They also said:

"The consensus standards related to combustible dust are large, complex, numerous, and interrelated, which make it difficult for employers to comply with them."

Sorry OSHA; it looks like we're not the only ones struggling with this.

My problem is not that OSHA passed judgment on our company (after all, that is their job). My problem is that they don't seem to care about actually helping small business mitigate COMDUST hazards. Instead they fined my employer of 40 employees $750, 000 in the past 12 months. That's $18,750 per employee and only half as much as we have spent in the last year on OSHA compliance re-tooling.

If I could cite OSHA with a Small Business General Duty Clause it would be that they have the general duty to ensure that small businesses have the time and resources to provide a safe environment where employees can earn a living and be able to go home to food in their fridge and benefits for their families. We've already laid employees off. Some of them have even called back because their unemployment has run out. We have nothing for them with $500,00 in fines looming.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Importance Utilizing Explosion Proof Vacuums

Be sure to check out this informative article in the Industrial Fire Journal. Rachel Brutosky, Public Relations Coordinator at Nilfisk-Advance America, provides helpful information on the importance utilizing explosion proof vacuums when cleaning up combustible dust in the workplace


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