WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal investigators on Thursday called for
tighter regulations to prevent particle-dust fires like those that
have killed 119 people since 1980.
The five-member Chemical Safety Board voted 3-2 to recommend
that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration pass
regulations to prevent dust explosions. OSHA is not required to
follow these recommendations.
"I think regulation has to happen in order for industry to pay
attention and to recognize these hazards and do something about
controlling them," board chairwoman Carolyn Merritt said in an
The report containing these recommendations was the result of
investigation into 2003 explosions in Kinston, N.C., Corbin, Ky.,
and Huntington, Ind. The three explosions killed 14 people and
injured 81 others.
According to the CSB report, combustible dust incidents resulted
in 119 deaths and 718 injuries between 1980 and 2005.
The recommendations include regulations for inspections, maintenance and construction of facilities where combustible dust
could pose a danger. They also address the availability of
information about the hazards of dust explosions for people working
in buildings where these incidents could occur.
Gary Visscher, one of the two board members who voted against
the recommendations, said a campaign to raise awareness about the
risks of combustible dust would be more effective and faster than
passing new OSHA regulations. He favored alliances between OSHA and various trade associations, safety organizations and labor unions
to spread the word about combustible dust hazards.
CSB is responsible for investigating industrial chemical accidents.
This is only the second time that the CSB has recommended
regulations to OSHA. The first set of recommendations, sent in
2002, have still not been addressed to the board's satisfaction,
according to Jordan Barab, CSB recommendations manager.
The Corbin, Ky., explosion and fire on Feb. 20, 2003, killed
seven people and injured dozens others at CTA Acoustics, an
insulation factory. Federal investigators concluded that the blast
could have been prevented because management knew that a buildup of dust was extremely flammable. Investigators concluded that flames
from an open oven door ignited a cloud of dust around a production
line at the plant that molds insulation for the automotive
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)