Before the Imperial Sugar Company Refinery explosion in Georgia killed 12 workers and injured 11 others Feb. 7, 2008, 119 workers had died, and 718 had been injured, in so-called "combustible dust" explosions, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, a little-known independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents.
The board will testify Wednesday during Congressional hearings into the sugar refinery explosion. Interim Executive William E Wright will tell the House Education and Labor Committee that the nation needs standards for dust to protect them from a hazard that should have come as no surprise.
In 2006, the board completed a two-year combustible dust hazard study that numerated 119 deaths by combustible dust explosion between 1980 and 2005.
"The CSB's nationwide study, issued in November of 2006, found that there is no U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard that comprehensively addresses combustible dust explosion hazards in general industry," the CSB stated in a press release. "As a result, the Board voted to recommend that OSHA issue a new national regulatory standard designed to prevent combustible dust fires and explosions."
OSHA does publish information and guidelines about combustible dust on its Web site.
2008 - 12/ 11 - Imperial Sugar Company, Port Wentworth, Ga.
2003 - 6/ dozens - West Pharmaceuticals, Kinston, N.C.
2003 - 7/ 37 - CTA Acoustics, Corbin, Ky.
2003 - 1/ 2 - Hayes Lemmerz, Huntington, Ind.
2002 - 5/ 7 - Rouse Polymerics, Vicksburg, Miss.
1999 - 3/ 9 - Jahn Foundry, Springfield, Mass.
1999 - 6/ 36 - Ford River Rouge, Dearborn Mich.
1995 - 0/ 37 - Malden Mills, Methuen, Mass.
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