Fact Sheets Outline Protections for Workers Who Handle Combustible Solids, Farmworkers

Published July 13, 2016

​Two new fact sheets developed by OSHA provide information on protecting workers from combustible dust explosion hazards and emergency preparedness for farmworkers.

OSHA urges employers and workers to take steps to control dust and avoid combustible dust incidents, including flash fires and explosions. The agency’s fact sheet lists three steps for preventing combustible dust explosions: first, capture dust before it escapes into a work area by using dust collection systems; next, contain dust within equipment, systems, or rooms that are built and operated to safely handle combustible dust; and last, use safe housekeeping methods to clean work areas, overhead surfaces, and concealed spaces frequently to remove dusts not captured or contained. OSHA provides several examples of potential combustible dust materials, including cellulose, sugar, aluminum, iron, epoxy resin, and rubber. Some materials in their pure chemical state such as cement, sand, and salt will not form combustible dust, the fact sheet explains.

A second new fact sheet is intended to help employers and supervisors develop an emergency action plan to prepare farmworkers for agricultural emergencies and disasters, including tornadoes, wildfires, grain entrapments, chemical releases or spills, and vehicle incidents. According to OSHA, emergency action plans can “lessen confusion, decrease injuries, and limit destruction of property during and after a disaster or other emergency.” The fact sheet lists items that should be included in emergency action plans such as procedures to account for workers and emergency escape procedures and routes. Also included is relevant information on worker training, preplanning with first responders, farm exercises and drills, and medical service and first aid.

Visit OSHA’s website for a full list of the agency’s publications.