SAFETY 101: COMBUSTIBLE DUST: PROTECTING WORKERS FROM COMBUSTIBLE DUST EXPLOSION HAZARDS
Combustible dusts can fuel a flash fire or explosion when dispersed in a dust cloud. Workers in many industries who handle combustible solids may be exposed to combustible dust incidents that can cause catastrophic destruction, injuries and deaths. Employers and workers should take the steps below to control the fuel and prevent tragic consequences.
Control the Fuel (Dust) and Avoid Incidents
- Capture dust before it escapes into a work area by using properly designed, installed, approved and maintained dust collection systems.
- Contain dust within equipment, systems or rooms that are built and operated to safely handle combustible dust.
- Clean work areas, overhead surfaces and concealed spaces frequently and thoroughly using safe housekeeping methods to remove combustible dusts not captured or contained.
Employers should determine whether dusts present in the workplace are explosible. If so, they must take proper precautions to protect workers against flash fires and explosions. Resources to help employers can be found at www.osha.gov/dsg/combustibledust.
Workers must be protected from combustible dust flash fire and explosion hazards. Supervisors should be notified if proper precautions have not been taken to protect workers from combustible dust hazards.
Some Dusts are Not Combustible
Certain materials in their pure chemical state will not form combustible dust, including cement, gypsum, limestone, sand and salt.
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA's rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.
|U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, 2016|