On-going developments in addressing combustible dust hazards


  • This article was originally presented at the 9th Global Congress on Process Safety, San Antonio, TX, April 29 to May 1, 2013.


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) continues to play an important role in creating guidance for identifying and controlling hazards associated with combustible dusts. Five separate standards address hazards associated with wood-related materials, metals, agricultural products and foodstuffs, sulfur, and all other combustible dusts (e.g., paper, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals). This article will address a number of developments in NFPA's initiatives addressing combustible dust hazards. Topics to be addressed include:

  • The status of, and recent revisions to, NFPA's combustible dust standards;
  • NFPA's plans for a new combustible dust standard, which will address the common issues associated with controlling combustible dust hazards, leaving the commodity-specific standards to address the issues unique to their scope;
  • A new technical correlating committee, which will help ensure greater consistency between the approaches addressed in the various combustible dust standards;
  • The increasing inclusion of process safety management (PSM) principles in the combustible dust standards; and
  • The increasing allowance provided to users of NFPA standards for the use of risk-based decision-making in the selection of combustible dust hazard control options.

Options exist for AIChE to provide technical support to a number of the above areas. The article will also preview a new Center for Chemical Process Safety project for providing tools for addressing combustible dust hazards. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog 34: 24–30, 2015