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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published new information on combustible dust and the safety procedures that can best help rescue crews fight fires and explosions caused by ignited dust.
"This booklet will keep both emergency response and facility workers safe by giving them a framework to prepare for potential emergencies involving combustible dust," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Stakeholders that have reviewed the booklet, including fire chiefs and union health and safety representatives, describe it as 'an excellent resource for explaining the hazards associated with combustible dust and outlining the best practices for pre-incident operational preparation by emergency responders.'"
Combustible dusts like fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks or flakes can accidentally ignite and potentially cause an explosion when under certain conditions. Metal like aluminum and magnesium, wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar and paper are all types of combustible dusts that employees must be protected from. When accidents occur and employees are injured, OSHA often opens an investigation to determine the cause of the fire or explosion as well as whether or not any safety violations were present.
The new OSHA publication discusses the causes of combustible dust explosions and offers examples of past incidents. The text attempts to explain what rescue teams and firefighters can do to prepare for responding to an explosion as the result of combustible gas, the report said.
Workers die from combustible dust explosions
Standards and regulations set by OSHA require employers to protect workers from dangerous situations and reduce their risk of injury on the job. However, not all companies comply to regulations and accidents sometimes occur. Even if safety equipment is present, it may be outdated or not operating properly, resulting in injury to not only employees but to rescue teams and firefighters who respond to calls for help. According to OSHA, more than 130 workers have died and more than 780 have suffered injures since 1980 as a result of combustible dust explosions.
The publication hopes to provide more information on the reason for combustible dust explosions and how to contain them.
There are ways to prevent these explosions and fires including the installation of safety equipment like flame detector sensors which can alert employees to hazardous conditions involving combustible dusts and other dangerous situations.
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