In a Dec. 31 letter to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), the NGFA and other grain organizations outlined reasons they believe additional regulations do not need to be developed by the board to mitigate combustible dust hazards in the grain handling and processing industry.
“We support OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) goal of protecting employees and recommend that the CSB work cooperatively with industry groups to ensure stakeholder input and feedback is duly considered,” the groups noted, adding that they do support the continued delivery of safety and health education and training to mitigate combustible dust and other workplace hazards.
The American Feed Industry Association, the Corn Refiners Association, the National Oilseed Processors Association, the North American Millers Association and the U.S. Beet Sugar Association joined in signing the NGFA-authored letter. NGFA submitted the letter in response to the board’s Oct. 24 “Call to Action” regarding combustible dust.
The NGFA’s extensive efforts to enhance safety include unprecedented research and education efforts launched in the early 1980s that helped lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of fire and explosion incidents in commercial grain-handling facilities in the late 1970s. The industry has demonstrated its commitment, before and after the promulgation of the OSHA’s grain handling standard in 1988.
NGFA’s letter cites combustible dust explosion data collected by Kansas State University
between 1976-2014, which found that explosion incidents declined by 55 percent, injuries declined by 79 percent and fatalities declined by 95 percent, as examined in five-year increments. These declines occurred even as the volume of grain handled increased significantly during the same time frame.
“It is clear the effects of our industry’s self-initiated and self-funded actions, including significant facility, equipment and technology improvements, extensive education and research efforts, and improved commodity handling, storage, and shipping practices, is being reflected in substantially reduced risks of fires, explosions and associated injuries and fatalities,” the Dec. 31 letter states.