Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The need for tighter regulations and preventive measures is again making headlines after OSHA hands out safety violations stemming from combustible dust hazards to a manufacturer of dried milk products. Occupation Health and Safety reports that Milk Specialties Co., who makes dried whey protein concentrate powder, is facing a proposed fine of $72,000 after OSHA cited their Fond du Lac, Wisconsin facility with three violations – one of which includes a willful violation for combustible dust hazards. These safety violations arrive following an investigation after a combustible dust explosion inside one of the plant’s machines caused a fire to break out. OSHA’s inspection also discovered two other-than-serious violations by Milk Specialties Co. after the manufacturer failed to properly maintain OSHA 300 logs throughout 2011. These logs were to describe days lost by employees or days in which work activities were restricted due to the combustible dust explosion.

Surely Milk Specialties Co. could have prevented this accident if they practiced better safety measures for handling combustible dust within their facilities. At the same time, this incident and its subsequent fines may have also been avoided if OSHA guidelines for combustible dust were updated and set in place. Unfortunately, approval for proposed new safety guidelines that would better control combustible dust hazards are not expected any time soon despite pleas from the Chemical Safety Board to fast track them this year. Therefore, it becomes all that much more important for manufacturers to take preventative measures into their own hands and understand the need for equipment such as specialized industrial vacuums that can safely collect and remove combustible dusts.