Georgia Issues Combustible Dust Safety Regulation

John Oxendine, Georgia's insurance and safety fire commissioner, announced a new regulation March 7 that will require facilities whose operations create or handle combustible particulate solids to register with the state by July 1, submit Material Safety Data Sheets of the substances involved, create emergency plans, and train employees in evacuation procedures. Violators would be subject to civil fines and could face enforcement action by fire code officials. The rule says employee hazard awareness and safety training must be provided on a monthly basis.

The facilities will register as a general industrial occupancy, special purpose industrial occupancy, or high hazard industrial occupancy with their contents' hazards further classified as low, ordinary, of high hazard ("those that are likely to burn with extreme rapidity of from which explosions are likely," according to the rule, which is online at www.gainsurance.org/ANNOUNCEMENTS/1078ER-372008143836.pdf). It will require all manufacturers in Georgia to have a designated safety officer and also will require facilities making, processing, or handling combustible particulate solids that create combustible dust to comply with NFPA 70E-2004, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, and numerous other NFPA standards.

"These regulations will set new standards for safety in industries that produce flammable dust in their manufacturing processes," Oxendine said in a news release posted on his agency's Web site. "The explosion and fire at the Imperial Sugar plant was the most devastating loss of life in Georgia in 16 years. I want to make sure this type of accident never happens again."

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