by , on September 29, 2009

It still amazes me when governmental agencies miss key recommendations in accident investigations. The CSB didn’t even mention flame resistant clothing in the Imperial Sugar combustible dust explosion when it could have clearly made a difference.

The Chemical Safety Board’s recommendations rightly place the main focus on housekeeping and other recommendations but they fail as so many do to look at what could have helped prevent so many of the severe burns and fatalaties. One of the upper management folks at Imperial Sugar noticed a flame resistant garment which survived the explosion and to their credit put their workers in flame resistant clothing going forward. It is a fact that clothing causes most of the body burns in a flash fire. Workers wearing clothing that doesn’t ignite live 95% of the time because they receive less than 25% body burn in most cases. I’m not one to say, “throw PPE at the problem” but PPE can make a huge difference IF other measures fail. You could take the Imperial Sugar fire as a case study and make a major statement to save hundreds or possibly thousands of lives per year and a huge burden on the healthcare system. Prevent burns!

The CSB made some good recommendations but they could have gone further by reading and quoting NFPA 2112 FLAME-RESISTANT GARMENTS FOR PROTECTION OF INDUSTRIAL PERSONNEL AGAINST FLASH FIRE. I support the CSB’s recommendations but they don’t go far enough in my opinion. I was an original member of the NFPA 2112 standard committee.

“Committee Scope: This Committee shall have primary responsibility for documents on the manufacture, selection, care, and use of garments and equipment used for protection of industrial personnel where there is potential for flash fire. Industrial personnel include workers who are potentially or may accidentally be exposed to hydrocarbon or combustible dust flash fires, and not electrical flashes. These documents do not cover fire fighters and other emergency services personnel.”

Click here to read the CSB report…


Hugh Hoagland
About author:
Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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