Addressing Combustible Dust Hazards

Many industries — from chemicals, plastics, and pharmaceuticals to food processing and mineral recovery — face combustible dust hazards in their facilities. Incidents such as the explosions and fires at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA in February 2008 demonstrate the need to effectively manage these risks. Follow this approach to understand and mitigate your combustible dusts.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently developing a combustible dust regulation. Until that is finalized, engineers should be guided by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and by recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEPs).

Each company needs to determine the appropriate strategy for controlling its combustible dust hazards and select specific safeguards based on a hazard evaluation and risk assessment.

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