Combustible dust is a serious safety issue that must be addressed in a wide range of industrial environments. Any fine particulate that has the potential to ignite or explode is considered combustible dust. As with any type of dust, combustible dust tends to settle and accumulate on surface areas including machinery, duct, rafters, walls, and ceilings. This creates a dangerous environment that has the potential to be life-threatening to your employees and devastating to your business. Implementing a system for managing and eliminating combustible dust is essential for safety and regulatory compliance.
OSHA & NFPA Standards for Combustible Dust
To determine if your facility is at risk, it is important to understand how combustible dust originates. Combustible dust can be created by processes involving metal, wood, sugar, grain, as well as many other organic and non-organic materials. A wide array materials can become combustible under certain circumstances. For a comprehensive listing of combustible dust producing materials, see this reference chart published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has issued regulations concerning combustible dust, including NFPA 652, which relates to industry-specific standards to make sure that set requirements are consistently managed across industries, processes, and dust types. As of October 2018, industries will no longer be grandfathered into compliance. Individual industries will be required to develop and maintain compliance with NFPA standards:
- NFPA 61 Agricultural and Food Processing
- NFPA 68 Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting
- NFPA 69 Explosion Prevention Systems
- NFPA 484 Combustible Metals
- NFPA 654 Combustible Particulate Solids (Manufacturing, Processing, & Handling)
- NFPA 655 Sulfur
- NFPA 664 Wood Processing & Woodworking
It will be the responsibility of facility and business owners to determine whether the dust materials in their operation are explosive or combustible.
To learn more about managing industrial dusts in your facility, download our FREE guide, Controlling Dust and Mist in the Industrial Environment.