WASHINGTON -- To ensure safety, the first rule of thumb is to make employees aware of the facility’s compliance responsibilities and how to handle combustible dust.
For most grain elevators, mills and other agricultural facilities, thorough knowledge of OSHA 1910.272 regulations for grain handling facilities is critical, said Jess McCluer, director of safety and regulatory affairs, National Grain and Feed Association, Washington. “Only the grain handling industry has to comply with an industry-specific combustible dust standard,” he said. Bakeries are not covered under OSHA 1910.272.
In a handful of states, he said, the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) standards are mandatory, but for facilities, the regulations are voluntary, unless the authority having jurisdiction such as the local fire marshal makes them a requirement. However, familiarity with NFPA standards, especially NFPA 61 for the prevention of fire in agricultural and food processing facilities, is something that facilities managers should know. Mr. McCluer noted the NFPA is in the process of revising NFPA 61 to correlate with a recently developed general industry combustible dust standard that is expected to be released later this year.
Another best practice involves proper recordkeeping in regard to ingredient handling and safety, noted Jason Stricker, national accounts manager, Shick USA, Kansas City.
Kevin Pecha, sales manager, AZO, Inc., Memphis, Tenn., observed that some bakeries along with their jurisdiction’s authorities have strict interpretations on what should be done while others use historical practices at the facility for determining the path to take.“In any event, the bakery should not take lightly the impact that a dust explosion can have on personnel or equipment,” he said. “Risk assessments, inspections and standard operating procedures should focus on reducing dust in the bakery based on the potential for fire, combustion and explosion.”