OSHA has released a new resource  to help keep emergency responders and facility workers safe when handling emergencies involving combustible dust. The booklet, titled Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust, explains the associated hazards of combustible dust and outlines best practices for preparations to make prior to a response, as well as the effect of these preparations during incidents, according to an OSHA press release .
The booklet notes that “just about any solid material that burns can be explosible when finely divided into a dust” and states that a flash fire will occur when combustible dust that is dispersed in a cloud in proper concentrations is ignited. This flash fire can cause an explosion when confined in an enclosure such as a dust collector, processing equipment, conveyor, room, or building. According to the booklet, responders can inadvertently increase the chances of combustible dust explosions by using tactics that cause dust clouds to form, introducing air to create an atmosphere for explosions, applying the incorrect or incompatible extinguishing agents, or using tools and equipment that can become an ignition source.
More than 130 workers have been killed and nearly 800 workers have been injured in combustible dust explosions in the past three decades, according to OSHA. Many of these incidents may have been avoided with proper training and preparation for responding to such emergencies. OSHA’s newest resource should help facilities to avoid future worker injuries and deaths by providing the information necessary for safe practices with regards to combustible dust.
Access the OSHA booklet titled Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust here .