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Combustible dust poses risk for explosion and injured workers

Combustible dust is a risk in many different types of manufacturing facilities, posing a risk for explosions and injured workers. This dust is composed of tiny metal particles, which could ignite a deadly explosion and lead to injured workers with just one tiny spark. While there have been explosions in other countries due to this risk, there have also been several combustible dust accidents in the United States.

In 2011, one Tennessee manufacturing facility had three separate incidents that resulted in five deaths and that could have resulted in even more devastating consequences. The types of facilities that may be at a higher risk for these types of explosions also include food processing plants, rubber, wood, plastics and pharmaceutical facilities. This makes it extremely important for employers to practice safety procedures and observe safety measures, such as installing ventilation systems. Employees should also be trained in safe work habits and how to decrease the risk of these combustible explosion incidents.

At this time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a national regulation system in place for many industries that pose a risk for combustible dust explosions. There is documented proof, however, that these standards decrease dangerous incidents and it is possible that new regulations could be set soon. However, that does not diminish the responsibility of Tennessee employers to provide safe work environments in the meantime. Unnecessary risk and safety hazards could lead to unfortunate consequences.

When an employee is injured on the job, he or she will typically be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. These are offered to cover the costs of medical treatment and lost wages. Injured workers who have suffered because of combustible dust or any other work-related accident should understand the exact benefits for which they are eligible.

Source: Business Standard, "The danger of combustible dust", Rafael Moure-eraso, Aug. 23, 2014

Source: Business Standard, "The danger of combustible dust", Rafael Moure-eraso, Aug. 23, 2014

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