In some manufacturing facilities, finely ground particles can stay suspended in the air long after work has ended. Workers can experience serious respiratory issues if they inhale these particles, even from short-term exposure.
In a poorly ventilated space, certain particles can create “combustible dust hazards.” If they meet an ignition source, the resulting blast could cause extensive property damage, injuries and even employee deaths.
A processing plant in Illinois was cited for multiple health and safety violations over combustible cornstarch dust.
Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) noted levels of cornstarch above its permissible exposure limits (PELs). The high levels of exposure could increase workers’ chances of developing lung disease.
Management had also allowed workers to operate forklifts that were not designed for high dust areas, increasing the chances of an explosion. OSHA issued 21 total violations, which included amputation, fall and chemical hazards.
Between 1980 and 2005, 119 workers died in more than 280 combustible dust incidents nationwide. Proper ventilation and responsible electrical maintenance could be the difference between life and death.
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Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys