Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

OSHA focusing on combustible dust hazards

August 7, 2009
ATLANTA — Over the past 16 months, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials have made 813 trips to various companies where employees are exposed to potentially fatal combustible dust hazards, according to a press release.
According to the release, there have been 132 citations for workplace safety and health violations in Alabama alone, with 81 percent categorized as willful, serious, repeat or failure to abate.
The visits are part of OSHA''s National Emphasis Program that has resulting in housekeeping, hazard communication, personal protective equipment, electrical and general duty clause violations in various industries, including the JanSan industry, the release stated.
OSHA Regional Administrator Cindy Coe said: "Any company that has combustible dust, or thinks that it may have combustible dust, needs to intensify housekeeping, review hot work processes, evaluate electrical equipment for possible Class II locations, prohibit smoking or flames in dust laden areas, ensure that relief venting on dust collection systems releases the dust to a safe location and develop and/or review an emergency action plan."
Dust fires and explosions can pose significant dangers in the workplace and can occur when five different factors are present: oxygen; an ignition source; fuel; dispersion of the dust; and confinement of the dust, the release noted.
The five factors are referred to as the "Dust Explosion Pentagon," and if any one of these factors is removed or is missing — as a result of proper cleaning and maintenance — an explosion cannot occur, the release added.
Click here to read the complete release.
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