Combustible dust is a fire and explosion hazard in many industries that handle dusty materials, including pharmaceuticals. Deadly dust explosions and how to prevent them have been a concern in the US and a focus for the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the past several years.
A step in the right direction is the revised OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) (29 CFR Part 1910.1200), which took effect in May. According to an OSHA press release on March 20, 2012, the revisions are aligned with the United Nations’ global chemical labeling system. One of the revisions is that the standard now officially includes combustible dust as a hazard. The standard gives guidance on defining combustible dust and provides a standardized label element. Employers must complete employee training for new label elements by December 1, 2013, and must comply with label and safety data sheet requirements by June 1, 2015, as explained in the ruling. More information on combustible dust is available on the OSHA website.
Do you think the new standard will help prevent combustible dust explosions? What else do you think would help?