Combustible Dust Standard: A Stalemate

Jul 15, 2016

Stalemate Between Federal Agencies May Be Moving Toward Resolution

A combustible dust standard may mean more stringent control measures, a lot of new tests and reports, and major growth in the air quality control industry, especially dust collection systems.

Since 2008, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) have been making recommendations to OSHA that a formal standard for combustible dust is needed to prevent worker injuries and deaths caused by dust explosions. OSHA established a “National Emphasis Program” to provide more information and awareness about dust control and combustible dust hazards. They have yet to establish any formal, enforceable standards. The CSB continues to make recommendations for such a standard in their investigations of explosions and resulting fatalities ( and has deemed OSHA’s response to their recommendations to be “unacceptable”. They consider an OSHA combustible dust standard to be the most important safety measure they have recommended.

According to John S. Forester, the managing editor at Powder & Bulk Solids, ( the NFPA is currently working on revisions of its standard 652, its proposed standard for combustible dust, intended to be comprehensive and to cover all industries to which it would apply.

This combustible dust standard ( would require that all facilities, new or existing, complete Dust Hazard Analysis testing and report their results. Also, some of the standards will be applied retroactively to existing businesses. In response, OSHA seems to be responding to the call for increased regulation for the first time since 2010. However, there’s no sign of new enforceable regulations in the immediate future. Facilities who need to meet NFPA standards may find themselves dealing with the mandated Dust Hazard Analysis. This will mean an increased investment in dust control systems.

The article notes that due to increasing regulation and the adoption of NFPA standards globally, the market for industrial dust collectors is expected to increase significantly in the following years. Demands for explosion isolation equipment (such as Imperial Systems independently tested, NFPA-standard CMAXX with In-Line Deflagration Arrester filters) are expected to be even higher as reports of industrial accidents and stricter regulations circulate in the industry.

The NFPA 652 will require industry-wide testing of all dusts that might be combustible and full analysis of all facilities for areas and equipment that might create a risk of dust accumulation, such as conveyor belts, elevators, ductwork, and ovens. Dust testing may include standards on the amount of dust allowed to accumulate on any surface and testing to determine whether the dust is in contact with hot surfaces or static buildup that could trigger ignition of that particular dust. These assessments will be an ongoing headache for many companies, and installing a system of correctly functioning dust collection equipment (and maintaining it or having it maintained by our ServiceMAXX professionals) can minimize that headache by keeping the dust problem minimal and keeping the facility up to standards.

While the expected boom in sales of industrial dust extraction and explosion suppression equipment is good news for our industry, it’s especially good news for Imperial Systems, since our CMAXX with IDA filters already meets NFPA standards and should continue to meet the new standards in the future. If you already have one of our systems and it is well-maintained and operating properly, you should be prepared to weather any new regulations for explosion-containing dust collection systems. If you’re using another type of dust collector, measures such as high-speed abort gates and our fire-retardant DeltaMAXX nanofiber filters can help you be in compliance with current and future standards.

If you have questions about what you need to be prepared, give on of our knowledgeable team members a call today at 800-918-3013!