Combustible Dust

Combustible Dust

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is a dust?

Dust is defined as solid particles that are generated by some type of mechanical action on organic or inorganic materials. These mechanical actions include, but are not limited to, handling, crushing and grinding. Dust particles that are too large to remain airborne will settle out, while the smallest ones can remain suspended indefinitely. 

What is a combustible dust?

In general terms, a combustible dust is a combustible solid particle having an effective diameter of 420 microns (μm) or smaller and is capable of being suspended in air.

What are the hazards associated with combustible dust?

Combustible dusts when suspended in air in sufficient concentration can result in a fire or explosion when ignited by an ignition source, such as a flame or electric arc, resulting in extensive property damage and serious human injury and death.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Your employer is required to conduct a workplace hazard assessment, a part of which should include the identification of processes and materials that are capable of producing combustible dust. In addition, the employer is also responsible to inform employees about the physical hazards, as well as the health hazards, associated with any materials used in the workplace.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Several example checklists and programs pertaining to combustible dust can be downloaded and customized to fit the workplace:

These presentations, hazard communication, respiratory protection, and personal protective equipment, can also be downloaded and customized to fit your training needs.

Related resources can be found on the A-Z topics pages for respiratory protection, hazard communication, and personal protective equipment. In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

Regulations

Regulations

What regulations apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards that are applicable to combustible dusts:

In addition, the General Duty Clause located in N.C.G.S. 95-129(1) can be invoked for the protection of employees against recognized serious hazards such as combustible dusts for which no OSH standard exists.

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-807-2875.