OSHA Releases Booklet for Responders Encountering Combustible Dust

It outlines best practices for pre-incident operational preparation by emergency responders, Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said.

OSHA has issued a new booklet, "Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust," to aid emergency responders who may face fires and explosions caused by combustible dust.

"This booklet will keep both emergency response and facility workers safe by giving them a framework to prepare for potential emergencies involving combustible dust," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Stakeholders that have reviewed the booklet, including fire chiefs and union health and safety representatives, describe it as ‘'n excellent resource for explaining the hazards associated with combustible dust and outlining the best practices for pre-incident operational preparation by emergency responders.'"

Since 1980, more than 130 workers have died and more than 780 have been injured in combustible dust explosions, according to OSHA. The publication describes how combustible dust explosions occur and uses previous incidents to illustrate how firefighting operations can prevent dust explosions. It explains the preparations emergency responders can make before a response and how these preparations will affect the operational plan during a response.

Fires typically are precursor events to combustible dust explosions. Many materials in dust form can be explosive at certain concentrations in the right circumstances, including metals, wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar, and paper.

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