At a recent combustible dust webinar last October, attendees to the educational event learned that about ten combustible dust incidents occurred annually from the early 1980s until 2005 in the U.S.A. This data was obtained from the Chemical Safety Board Dust Hazard Investigation that was completed in 2006, noting 281 ComDust incidents from 1980-2005.
Unfortunately, this is not reality in contrast to media reports that note over ten combustible dust incidents every month. Currently, OSHA is in the combustible dust rulemaking process utilizing this incomplete data from the CSB Dust Hazard Study. This presents a problem by not exposing the enormity and complexity of combustible dust related fires and explosions in the manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and utility sectors.
The problem is exasperated by the current OSHA Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) that further lessens the magnitude of combustible dust incidents by solely listing certain national industries (NAICS) that have a potential for combustible dust incidents and excluding thousands of other manufacturing plants that do have a history of ComDust incidents not listed in the ComDust NEP. For example, in 2008 over 50% of facilities that had ComDust incidents were not listed in the Appendices D-1 and D-2 of the NEP.
If your facility generates combustible dust it doesn't matter whether OSHA acknowledges the hazard our not in the ComDust NEP. Bottom-line, you have a potential fire and explosion hazard that can cause grave burn injuries, fatalities, and severe property damage. Get your dust tested now or at least conduct a thorough process hazard analysis; identifying, evaluating, and hopefully controlling the hazard.
To learn more about combustible dust hazards be sure to check out the excellent Chemical Processing. com webinar moderated by Traci Purdum, Senior Editor/Digital Media. Presenters included Dr Vahid Ebadat Ph.D/Chilworth Technology, Inc., John Dauber, sales manager/Camfil Farr APC, Bob Korn, Director of Sales for Explosion Protection Products/Fike Corporation, and Guy Colonna, Division Manager, managing the Industrial and Chemical Engineering department for the National Fire Protection Association.
Google Map Dec 2010-Jan 2011 Combustible dust related fires and explosions
Dust Gets it's Due- By Seán Ottewell, Editor at Large-Chemical Processing.com