The other day I happen to see that on September 15, OSHA reported that a company in Ravenna, Ohio will need to cough up about $61,000.00 in proposed fines. On March 13th 2014 an inspection revealed that employees were exposed to combustible dust. Here is an excerpt from the OSHA NEWS release:
"Combustible dust can burn rapidly and explode with little warning, putting workers at risk for severe injury and death," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "OSHA's inspection found that (company name omitted) used potential ignition sources, like powered industrial trucks and electrical equipment, in areas where combustible dust was present. This is dangerous and unacceptable."
OSHA's March 13, 2014, inspection found workers were exposed to the combustible dust while working in the facility. For the exposure, the company was cited with one serious violation. If this dust is suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. The force from such an explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries and destruction of buildings. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, injured 718 and extensively damaged numerous industrial facilities.
I’m thinking I might send my wife to take a look at the place. I love my wife; she comes from a very large family here in the Midwest with Dutch and German heritage. She was raised strictly and taught early on the value of hard work and having a clean house. If you had nothing to do you were sent to clean out and organize drawers. When we were dating, there were times I had to wait till her kitchen floor was scrubbed. Together we have 4 sons and 2 daughters. She began the process of training our children, as well as myself in the finer points of a clean place to live early on. After 43 years I’m starting to get the hang of it. I’m sure that it wouldn’t take her long to get that plant in Ohio straightened up.
Combustible dust is not anything you want to take for granted. It’s dangerous and as reported is deadly under the right conditions.
The following is from the http://www.nclabor.com/osha/etta/indguide/ig43.pdf
The National Fire protection Association (NFPA) defines a combustible dust as “a combustible particulate solid that presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations regardless of particle size or shape.”
Some of the natural and synthetic organic materials that can form combustible dusts include:
Food products (e.g., grain, cellulose, powdered milk, sugar, flour, starch, cocoa, maltodextrin)
Pharmaceuticals (e.g., vitamins)
Wood (e.g., sawdust, wood flour)
Textiles (e.g., cotton dust, nylon dust)
Plastics ( e.g., phenolics, polypropylene)
Resins ( e.g., lacquer, phenol-formaldehyde)
Biosolids ( dried wastes from sewage treatment plants)
Coal and other carbon dusts
Combustible dusts can also be formed from inorganic materials and metals including:
What industries are at risk
Agriculture, Chemicals, Food (candy, sugar spice, starch, flour, feed), Grain Elevators, (bins and silos) Fertilizer, tobacco, Plastics, Wood processing and storage, Furniture, Paper, tire and rubber manufacturing, Textiles, Pharmaceuticals, Metal Powder processing or storage, Automotive Refinishing
So let this Blog serve notice that if you are in any of these industries be ready with a plan. Have your facility inspected by a qualified person and train your employees in the proper protocol. Of course the other option is I could send my wife, just kidding, but seriously maintaining an environment as reasonably free from combustible dust hazards as possible, is extremely important for the health of all.
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