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Board: OSHA Should Do More To Prevent Combustible Dust Explosions

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KINSTON, N.C. — The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) presented its report Thursday about a fatal Kinston plant fire in 2003 and similar factory fires.

Six people died and dozens were injured on Jan. 29, 2003, in an explosion and fire at the West Pharmaceuticals plant. Officials blamed the explosion on combustible dust.

According to the CSB, two similar plant explosions in Kentucky and Indiana that year were caused by combustible dust.

In their report, the federal investigators found there is no comprehensive federal safety standard. They also discovered the required safety data sheets for combustible powders provided no warnings that they could explode.

The CSB recommended that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issue a new, national regulatory standard to prevent combustible dust explosions and train inspectors on how to spot the hazards.

The board is also urging that combustible dust warnings be included on all material safety data sheets. OSHA has 180 days to respond to the board's recommendations.

Since 1980, the CSB has identified more than 280 combustible dust explosions. The incidents killed 119 people and injured more than 700.