New OSHA Document Discusses Combustible Dust Hazards

Hazard Communication Guidance for Combustible Dusts is a new guidance document recently published by OSHA that assists chemical manufacturers and importers in recognizing the potential for dust explosions, identifying appropriate protective measures and the requirements for disseminating this information on material safety data sheets and labels.

Combustible dusts are solids finely ground into fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks, or flakes that can cause a fire or explosion when suspended in air under certain conditions. Types of dusts include metal (aluminum and magnesium), wood, plastic or rubber, biosolids, coal, organic (such as flour, sugar, and paper, among others), and dusts from certain textiles.

The document addresses the combustible dust hazards in relation to the Hazard Communication Standard, which is designed to ensure that chemical hazards are evaluated and the information concerning them is transmitted to employers and workers.

"Recent events have shown the devastation of combustible dust explosions resulting in worker loss of life and injuries," said Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "This guidance document is a useful resource to prevent potentially catastrophic events."

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