Safety and OSHA News

Dust explosion injures 4, one with serious burns

A dust explosion at a plant in Florida sent four workers to the hospital. One had to be airlifted to a burn center for critical injuries.

Police in Port Panama City say the explosion happened in two dust collectors. An investigation will determine what triggered it.

Authorities say it started in an area where a coating is put on pipes.

The facility will be shut down for several days while OSHA investigates.

After going from three shifts to one and briefly shutting down in December, Monday — the day of the blast — was the first time that all three shifts were up and running again.

Federal statistics show, in a 25-year period, 281 combustible dust explosions and fires killed 119 workers and injured 718.

This week, our Quick Poll was on combustible dust. We asked: Do you think OSHA needs a new standard on combustible dust?

  • 51% said no, OSHA should use its existing regulations, and
  • 49% said yes, current regulations aren’t enough.

A total of 430 readers voted. Check our home page for a new poll later this week.

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  1. Good post. I’d like to highlight the importance of PPE in donning flame resistant clothing (FRC) where there is a flash fire hazard in a combustible dust environment that also includes working adjacent to process equipment such as dust collectors. Burn injuries are minimized and the severity of occurrence is reduced when the implementation of all layers of protection such as best engineering practices, inherent safety principles, administrative controls, and PPE.

    The CSB failed in the Imperial Sugar accident investigation report to recommend that FRC’s be donned when working in the workplace where potentially explosive environment exists. NFPA 2113 is an excellent resource for workplace hazrd assesement in the donning of FRC’s. 20 workers sustained life threatening burn injuries where their clothingignited from the fireball. As a result six workers succumbed to their severe burn injuries at the Joseph M. Still Burn Unit due to a very high percentage of total burned surface area (TBSA)

    A separate ComDust standard is unnecessary. When instead a hybrid ComDust PSM can be developed. Why reinvent the wheel when managing the risk of hazards if explosive atmospheres has been successful for two decades with the OSHA PSM.

    Combustible dust has the same explosive severity as flammable gases, vapors, and mists. A capor cloud explosion is a propagating explosion like a dust explosion, Implementing a separate standard in managing the risk does not acknowledge the urgency of explosive atmospheres.

    Already in the EU the ATEX directives treat combustible dust as a potentially explosive atmosphere, just like flammable gases, vapors, and mists. Why in the USA, is there a disconnect in awareness? When there should be the same sense of urgency in managing the risk.

    Many elements of PSM already are incorporated in the NFPA combustible dust standards. The petrochemical sector has successfully utilized PSM in managing the risk.

    In fact since 1992, there has been a reduction in accidents, fatalities, and injuries utilizing PSM. Developing a hybrid PSM for combustible dust could likewise provide proactive prevention and mitigation layers of protections. Why reinvent the wheel when successful PSM has been utilized for nearly two decades?

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