South Carolina workers may not realize the danger that combustible dust may pose in the workplace. According to data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System, there were 500 combustible dust fires in 2011 alone. The fires impacted companies across a variety of sectors, and many were labeled as “near misses”, which means that the organizations impacted got lucky in avoiding catastrophe.

In addition to the incidents reported in the NFIRS system, there may be many more combustible dust fires that go unreported. While many such fires may occur each year, they may be preventable if proper safety protocols are in place. According to OSHA, companies should strive to prevent dust accumulations of more than 1/32 of an inch on more than 5 percent of a facility floor. Employers should be aware that they may be cited for combustible dust issues despite the lack of a specific OSHA standard.

Companies that handle or manufacture potentially hazardous dust are required to have it tested even if the organization has no prior record of dust incidents. The results of these tests must be kept on file. Tests may be done either through OSHA or through an outside lab, and depending on the results, an additional Dust Hazard Analysis may be required.

work accident victims may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can include the payment or reimbursement of medical expenses as well as in some cases partial wage replacement, and they are available even if the victim’s negligence contributed to the accident. An attorney can often help to ensure that the required claim contains all necessary information and that it is filed within the time period specified by law.