Thursday, July 17, 2014

CSB Reiterates Need for Combustible Dust Standard

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a report reiterating its 2006 recommendation that OSHA establish a general industry standard for combustible dust.

The report focuses on a combustible dust explosion at an AL Solutions metal recycling facility in New Cumberland, WV, that killed three employees and injured a contractor. An inadequately repaired metal blender is believed to be the source of the initial fire, which triggered an explosion that ignited additional nearby combustible dust into a second, more devastating blaze.

The incident is 1 of 9 of its type under investigation by the CSB since 2003. Such explosions and fires have caused 36 deaths and 128 injuries in that time.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso says, “Preventable combustible dust explosions continue to occur, causing worker deaths and injuries. The CSB believes it is imperative for OSHA to issue a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry with clear control requirements to prevent dust fires and explosions.”

The CSB report notes that most solid organic materials will explode if particles are small enough and at a sufficient concentration in a confined space near an ignition source.

CSB’s investigation revealed that the AL Solutions facility had experienced fatal fires and combustible dust explosions in 1995 and 2006. Between 1993 and 2010, at least 7 fires at the facility had required response from the local fire department.

“Had a national standard for combustible dust been in place in 2006 – and if industry had followed the requirements – many of the severe dust incidents that followed, including AL Solutions, may have been prevented. The time is now for OSHA to take action to prevent these tragic accidents.” Moure-Eraso says.