OSHA Cites Company Following Combustible Dust Explosion

The agency has cited Inferno Wood Pellet Inc. of East Providence, R.I., following a combustible dust wood explosion and fire.

OSHA announced an enforcement action against Inferno Wood Pellet Inc., based in East Providence, R.I., following a combustible wood dust explosion and fire that occurred in August 2013. The ignition of wood dust began in the production room and migrated to a retention bin, which led to a building-wide explosion. No one was killed.

Following the incident, OSHA completed an inspection that found that the plant's employees were exposed to wood dust explosions, deflagrations, and other fire hazards "due to inadequate or absent preventive and protective measures in the wood pellet processing system and its equipment." The retention bin in particular lacked spark detection, explosion suppression, fire and explosion isolation, and explosion venting devices. In addition, conveyor systems carrying combustible wood products lacked spark detection and dust collection systems and dust segregation barriers were not maintained properly to minimize fire sources.

According to OSHA, other hazards at the plant included the accumulation of combustible wood dust on various surfaces, an incomplete fire prevention plan, and lack of dust-tight electrical equipment where combustible dust accumulated. Furthermore, an opening in the fire wall located between the production room and the chip room is what allowed a fireball to enter the chip room and spread the fire, the agency reported. The facility was cited for various violations unrelated to combustible dust as well, such as noise monitoring and respiratory protection.

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