WASHINGTON — OSHA has revised its National Emphasis Program on combustible dust to include cut stock, resawing lumber and planing.
According to OSHA, any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such dust is suspended in the air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosible. The purpose of the revised emphasis program is to continue OSHA inspections of facilities that generate or handle combustible dusts likely to cause fire, flash fire, deflagration, and explosion hazards.
The NEP was revised based on enforcement history and combustible dust incident reports. In 2018, wood and food products made up an average of 70 percent of the materials involved in combustible dust fires and explosions. Incident reports indicate that the majority of the industries involved in combustible dust hazards are wood processing, agricultural and food production, and lumber production, but others are susceptible as well.
The updated NEP, which went into effect on Jan. 30, reflects combustible dust incident reports and enforcement history. According to OSHA, wood and food products accounted for 70% of materials in combustible dust explosions and fires in 2018.
“Incident reports indicate that the majority of the industries involved in combustible dust hazards are wood processing, agricultural and food production, and lumber production, but others are susceptible as well,” the agency says in a Jan. 27 press release.
OSHA has added the following industries to the NEP, by the North American Industry Classification System:
- 311812 – Commercial bakeries
- 325910 – Printing ink manufacturing
- 321912 – Cut stock, resawing lumber and planing
- 316110 – Leather and hide tanning and finishing
- 321214 – Truss manufacturing
- 424510 – Grain and field bean merchant wholesalers
The NEP, which replaces a March 2008 directive, will remain in effect until a cancellation notice is issued. OSHA notes that the revised directive doesn’t replace a similar one for grain handling facilities, “but it may cover operations involving grain processing that are outside the scope of the grain handling directive.”
OSHA initially launched its NEP on combustible dust in October 2007 after a number of incidents that resulted in fatalities and serious injuries.
“The combustible dust NEP is one of the agency’s important programs for proactively inspecting the nation’s most hazardous facilities before a catastrophic incident occurs,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker said in the release. “The results of a combustible dust fire or explosion can be catastrophic to workers and the facilities that they work.
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