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Combustible dust hazards at the workplace

Georgia residents who face daily dangers at the workplace may appreciate a recent report exposing the hazard caused by combustible dust. According to the report, 185 Chinese workers were injured and 75 others died because of a combustible dust explosion at a metal products factory in the eastern Hiangsu Province of China in August. Prior to the fatal dust explosion, the dangerous dust particles which filled the air also caked the skin and clothing of the factory workers before the explosion.

American manufacturing factories are not exempt from hazardous dust explosions. Whenever clouds of dust and particles form in these factories, just a simple spark can turn the vulnerable dust cloud into a massive explosion. The result can be catastrophic as one combustible dust explosion can easily trigger additional explosions, putting workers in danger of serious injuries and death.

Since 2008, there have been 50 documented accidents from dust explosions that killed 29 workers and injured 161 others, according to a representative of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. The danger for dust explosions looms in pharmaceutical, plastic, rubber, wood and food processing industries. In a Georgia sugar refinery plant, 14 employees died and dozens of other workers were burned from multiple sugar dust blasts in February 2008. In fact, workplace explosions from grain dust have decreased in the past several decades, due to the Occupational Safety and Health Association's regulations on the grain industry set in 1987. OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are working towards the implementation of more safety measures in order to combat the danger of future combustible dust explosions, according to the report.

Workers who were injured in an industrial accident are entitled to file for workers' compensation benefits. As the process can be daunting to some, a workers' compensation attorney can be of assistance in this regard.

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

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