Combustible Dust Hazard Management
A dust explosion can be sudden and catastrophic, causing deaths, injuries, and destruction of entire buildings. In many combustible dust incidents, employers and employees were unaware that such a hazard even existed. Between 1980 and 2005, there were 281 documented combustible dust incidents that resulted in 119 deaths, 718 injuries, and extensive damage to multiple industrial facilities. Those incidents occurred across 44 states, in many different industries, and involved a wide variety of materials. As a result, in 2007 the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to inspect facilities that generate or handle combustible dusts that pose a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air, regardless of particle size or shape.