Combustible dust a growing hazard to North Carolina workers

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) needs to gather information from experts to consider regulatory options for making workers safer from combustible dust hazards.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Charlotte, Greensboro and Asheville know that over the last 30 years almost 150 workers have been killed and an additional 850 have sustained injuries from combustible dust explosions.

In recent posts to our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog we reported on the dangers of working in a hazardous dust environment. We also wrote about the tragic February 22, 2011 Sherwin-Williams plant explosion in Greensboro that investigators believe was caused by vapors igniting.

OSHA will be hosting a Combustible Dust Expert Forum on May 13, 2011 to discuss methods for reducing such explosions. Various industries will be represented including:
research groups, academia, labor, insurance-underwriter organizations, and government officials will be on hand. The topics to be discussed will be on protecting employees from dust hazards in addition to how to keep the costs to small- and medium-sized businesses down.

OSHA started efforts to address combustible dust hazards back in 2007 with a National Emphasis Program. The result yielded inspections on facilities that handled or created combustible dusts. Those inspections found that facilities could benefit from stronger standards regarding combustible dust. What followed in 2009 was a publication of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which received more than 100 comments.

Then OSHA conducted a Web chat and held six stakeholders meetings. They wanted as much participation on combustible dust as possible from stakeholders and the public, especially how it would affect small business. This was all in preparation for gathering a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel.

Combustible dusts are chips, fine particles, fibers, flakes or chunks that, under certain conditions, can cause an explosion or fire when floating in air. Types of dusts can include plastic, aluminum, wood, magnesium, rubber, flour, coal, paper and sugar among others.

Learn more about Combustible Dust on OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page.

If you have suffered an injury at work or are dealing with a workers’ compensation disability claim in North Carolina, call the Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free consultation. Work injuries can be life changing and should be compensated for so call 1-800-887-1965 today to discuss your rights.

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