Special Topics in Safety Management

Combustible Dust Standard Is CSB’s First ‘Most Wanted Safety Improvement’

As of now, no federal combustible dust rule has been released, and the CSB is taking steps to increase pressure on OSHA to issue one.

In 2006, in the wake of a series of deadly major explosions and fires caused by combustible dusts, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued a set of recommendations for controlling these hazards.

Just 2 years later, a combustible sugar dust explosion at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth, Georgia, killed 14 workers, and the CSB renewed its call for federal OSHA to “proceed expeditiously” on its dust standard rulemaking. But the rule remained uncompleted.

In 2011, three iron dust-related flash fires at the Hoeganaes Corporation facility in Gallatin, Tennessee, killed five workers. The CSB added metal dusts to its recommendations and urged OSHA to issue a proposed rule within 1 year.

CSB’s Most Wanted

The CSB is not a regulatory agency. It is an independent federal agency that conducts root cause investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities. Based on its findings, the CSB makes recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

To better advocate for the adoption of its recommendations, the CSB created a program in 2012 to identify its “most wanted” changes list. The CSB’s “Most Wanted Safety Improvement” program is modeled on a similar one used by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) another independent agency that makes recommendations to industries and regulatory agencies.


Managing combustible dust risks can be a challenging task. BLR’s upcoming live webinar, Best Practices to Identify Hazards and Prevent Explosions, Fires, and Exposures, will help you develop an effective combustible dust safety program that will protect employees, company assets, and keep your organization out of the headlines. Click here for details.


The program is intended to highlight safety issues identified by accident investigations and increase industry, congressional, and public awareness about these priority issues and recommended safety solutions.

In July 2013, the CSB named its first Most Wanted Safety Improvement: a general industry combustible dust standard. The CSB will strongly advocate for such a program to be implemented within the next 3 years.

In 2013, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revised many of its standards that deal with combustible dust including NFPA 654-Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids and NFPA 499-Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas.

OSHA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR)—a request for information to be used in creating a standard—relating to combustible dust, on October 29, 2011. Progress has since stalled; OSHA did not list this proposed rulemaking on its most recent regulatory agenda.

In California, however, a standard regulating combustible dust already exists. The state’s General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) Section 5174 requires employers to:

A "yes" to all five questions means discipline is probably justified, although you will likely want supervisors to discuss the matter with you before taking action.

  • Control ignition sources
  • Practice good housekeeping
  • Collect and segregate dust at the point of generation

Join us for an in-depth webinar on January 7 that will provide you with best practices for combustible dust management plans and policies to help you control hazards at your facility. Learn More.


Learn More About Combustible Dust

It is critical for safety managers responsible for facilities where combustible dust hazards exist to take a close look to determine if all of the necessary components of a dust management and control program are in place. Although this can be a challenging task, if you follow some proven steps, you can develop an effective program that will protect employees, company assets, and keep your organization out of the headlines.

Join us for an in-depth webinar on January 7 when our presenters, seasoned safety experts who have been involved with all aspects of combustible and helped companies comprehensively address associated hazards, will provide participants with a proven approach for developing and implementing an effective and compliant combustible dust management and control program.

You and your colleagues will learn:

  • How to identify the hazards that combustible dust present
    OSHA’s response and activities associated with combustible dust

  • How major combustible dust incidents occur, and the typical combustible dust environments likely to cause deflagrations, fires, explosions, or employee exposures in industries such as agriculture, chemicals, textiles, paper products, and metal processing
  • The elements of a combustible dust explosion
  • Combustible dust area classifications, and primary and secondary combustible dust control practices
  • How to perform a combustible dust hazard assessment to audit facilities in a consistent and effect manner
  • Approaches for evaluating the typical combustible dust hazards that are identified in a hazard assessment
  • Proven strategies for effectively controlling, managing, and eliminating combustible dust hazards
  • Components to include in a comprehensive combustible dust management plan, with a detailed discussion of each component
  • Best practices for combustible dust management plans and policies to help you control hazards at your facility
  • Methods for performing combustible dust testing
  • Resources to help develop and implement and effective and comprehensive

About Your Presenters

Geoffrey J. Bacci was one of the founders of Aires Consulting in 1985. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and has a master’s degree in environmental engineering. Mr. Bacci has extensive experience in the health, safety and environmental disciplines for various entities in the industrial, manufacturing, commercial, institutional and governmental markets.

As a CIH, with extensive experience in mechanical engineering, he spearheaded Aires’ efforts in addressing combustible issues. He developed a practical, yet comprehensive approach to the evaluation of facility organization program development, relating to this.

Geoffrey J. Bacci II is a Professional Engineer (PE) and the Director of Engineering and Environmental Services for Aires Consulting, a division of Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc. He studied mechanical engineering at The University of Illinois.
His prior experience includes working for a mechanical contractor as project manager for installation of building/facility mechanical systems in commercial and industrial facilities. Since joining Aires Consulting, he has headed up Aires’ engineering and environmental groups. As part of his responsibilities, he conducts facility audits and program development for combustible dust, as well as reviews similar activities conducted by Aires’ staff.

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