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Over $197,000 in Fines from OSHA for Combustible Dust Issues

Date: 8/12/2016
Posted by: Brian Mathews

A manufacturing company in Queensbury, NY that makes animal bedding from wood has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to address issues related to combustible dust. The OSHA citations carry potential fines totaling $197,820. Among the issues, OSHA inspectors found that employees were exposed to multiple uncorrected combustible dust hazards as well as recurring fire and fall hazards that the manufacturer previously agreed to correct in earlier inspections.

In a report from OSHA, inspectors also identified new and recurring hazards from the manufacturer's failure to:

  • Address combustible dust related fire and explosion hazards for conveyor equipment and an inoperable spark detection/fire suppression system.
  • Inspect fire extinguishers annually, and maintain them in fully charged and operable condition.
  • Remove accumulations of combustible wood dust and shavings on rafters and other surfaces.
  • Remove piles of wood dust and shavings on floors that create fire, slip, trip, and fall hazards.

In a statement from Robert Garvey, OSHA's area director in Albany, "(the manufacturer) has disregarded its employees' safety in failing to correct an obvious fire and explosion hazard and in allowing the existence of new and recurring hazards. Especially disturbing is the fact that, since OSHA's last inspection, a significant fire occurred in the plant's production area in December 2015. For the safety and well-being of its employees (the manufacturer) must take immediate, comprehensive and effective action to correct these hazards once and for all."

The manufacturer has 15 business days after receipt of the OSHA citations and fines to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before an independent review commission.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release. U.S. Department of Labor. July 13, 2016. The full OSHA report can be viewed here.

Currently, OSHA is using the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to inspect and fine for violations as it is the employer's responsibility to maintain a place of employment free from recognized hazards. The various NFPA Standards including the latest NFPA 652 Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust 2016 Edition are being used as reference guides by OSHA inspectors and the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The owner/operator of a facility is now responsible for determining whether the materials being processed or generated in their facility are combustible or explosible and ensuring the materials are handled per the latest industry guidelines.

For more on NFPA 652, check out SDC's Blog, A Simple Review of...NFPA 652 here.

If your facility has issues with combustible dust or you would like more information on NFPA and combustible dust, send an e-mail to sdceng@scientificdust.com and one of our qualified engineers will be able to respond to your inquiries.

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Alsip, IL 60803-1901

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Email: sdc@scientificdust.com

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