New bill could safeguard potential dust explosions

| Mar 8, 2013 | Firm News, Workplace Accidents

Every workplace in America comes with its own unique array of risks, pitfalls, obstacles, and perils. Whether it be in a Tennessee mine, a California school, or an Illinois office space, the places in which we go to work each day are never completely secure, and accidents are inevitable occurrences in virtually every industry and workplace.

New legislative action being taken at the nation’s capital may lead to progressive regulation of at least one of the myriad workplace dangers that many, including some Tennessee residents, must contend with every day. Introduced by three Democratic representatives, the Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act is still only a proposed bill. However, if passed the measure would engender much more comprehensive and strict OSHA regulations for businesses whose work leads to the accumulation of potentially explosive dust material.

Much of the motivation behind the measure still stems from a tragic 2007 accident at the Georgian Imperial Sugar factory, in which 14 workers were killed and dozens other were injured in the wake of a harrowing dust explosion at the company’s industrial workplace. The act was introduced late last month.

The real teeth of the legislation depends upon OSHA, which would be required to both develop new dedicated standards of safety and dust accumulation for workplaces that produce such material, as well as work with the National Fire Association’s Protection Standards to enact immediate interim regulations that could save untold lives from possible explosions.

Industrial workplaces that work with combustible materials like wood, coal, metal, and sugar are the primary target of desired regulations. All told, 50 combustible dust-fueled explosions or fires have been tallied since the Imperial Sugar disaster, claiming the lives of over a dozen people.

Increased regulation and OSHA oversight of dangerous workplaces is an encouraging sign for workers everywhere. However, accidents, injuries, and even deaths on the job do happen, and those who have been a victim of such a tragedy have firm legal options available to them. Working with a personal injury attorney can help to make them both clearer and closer in reach.

Source: Woodworking Network, “Combustible Dust Bill Re-Introduced in House,” Rich Christianson, Feb. 17, 2013

  • Being injured while on the job can often leave victims feeling unsure of where to turn. For information on what to do after a workplace injury or wrongful death, contact our East Tennessee injury law page.
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