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Combustible Dust


Combustible dust lurks as a hidden danger in industrial facilities. Created during the normal course of production at factories, most dust seems like nothing more than a simple housekeeping nuisance – waste that collects on floors and equipment. However, dust can pose a serious threat to worker safety.


OSHA is actively inspecting facilities, issuing citations and fines and is creating a regulatory standard for the proper handling of combustible dusts. As a leader in proactive workplace safety, we provide a thorough combustible dust safety program, from auditing and analysis to employee training.

Our Approach to Combustible Dust Safety Services

NFPA Standards states, “The owner/operator of a facility with potentially combustible dusts shall be responsible for determining whether the materials are combustible or explosible and, if so, to characterize their properties as required to support the process hazard assessment.


Dust is unique and must be tested to accurately develop a plan to reduce the risks associated with combustible dust. Without a complete understanding of many factors unique to your facility’s dust, may have a negative impact on the specific controls used to reduce risk.

Our expert team will design a plan to ensure collection of all representative samples and determine the required tests. Once testing is completed, our team will guide you through the results and discuss the best plan of action.

All of SEAM Group's combustible dust tests are performed to ASTM standard E1226 (Standard Test Method for Explosibility of Dust Clouds).

General categories of combustible dusts are metal dust (aluminum, magnesium, titanium, zirconium, etc.), agricultural (grain dust), wood dust (cellulosic, paper, etc.), chemicals (polymers, plastics, resins, rubber), formulations and mixtures, biosolids, coal dust, organic dust (flour, sugar, soap, etc.), and dust from certain textiles.


The sampling plan shall include the following:

  1. Identification of locations where fine particulate and dust is are present

  2. Identification of representative samples

  3. Collection of representative samples

  4. Preservation of sample integrity

  5. Communication with the test laboratory regarding sample handling

  6. Documentation

  7. Safe sample collection practices

Documentation of test results shall be made available to the authority having jurisdiction.

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NFPA standards states, “Where dusts are determined to be combustible or explosible, the hazards associated with the dusts shall be assessed and mitigated.”

The hazards assessment and mitigation process identifies and addresses all relevant hazards, evaluates scenarios that potentially lead to dust or fire explosions, and provides the corrective actions required to address those consequences. The DHA is a critical step in the mitigation of combustible dust risks and provides a basis for the implementation of other requirements such as engineering controls, operating procedures, training, inspection and testing programs, and management of change programs.

The Dust Hazards Analysis (DHA) is also called a Process Hazards Analysis (PHA).

Several NFPA standards including NFPA 61, NPFA 68, NFPA 69, NFPA 484, NFPA 654 and NFPA 664 require a thoroughly documented DHA or PHA. OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard (29 CFR 1910.119) also requires employers to perform a thorough PHA on all applicable processes that are covered under the standard.

DHA-Phases Dust Hazards

Our DHA process includes 3 phases: 

  • PHASE I – Process Review and Data Collection 
    SEAM Group's combustible dust, safety and health consultants will collect and review information such as, but not limited to, combustible dust testing data, Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), safety and health programs, and other applicable information. SEAM will use this information in conjunction with an on-site audit of the facility to analyze all the processes and equipment located throughout the facility, with a heavy emphasis on the dust handling and generating areas.

  • PHASE II – Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA)
    SEAM Group will analyze the processes and related information to evaluate the facility’s current level of compliance with applicable combustible dust, safety and health standards, as well as potential fire and explosion hazard scenarios associated with the combustible dusts. SEAM will also ensure that proposed fire and explosion risk mitigation strategies are both safe and compliant with NFPA 652 and other NFPA and OSHA standards. The process will conclude with a preliminary high-level discussion of observations. All observations identified as immediately dangerous to life and health will be addressed at the time they are discovered.

  • PHASE III – Final DHA Report and Recommendations
    SEAM Group will prepare a detailed report in this phase. The report will not only explain the combustible dust hazards that are identified during the DHA, but also identify practices that are not in compliance with the applicable OSHA, NFPA, and other combustible dust, safety and health standards. The report will also propose specific corrective actions to mitigate any combustible dust hazards identified through the DHA. The proposed corrective actions will be prioritized based on the severity and probability of the hazard. After the report has been issued, SEAM will assist with any questions or issues arising from the DHA.


As part of SEAM Group’s comprehensive solution we offer a variety of Administrative Controls – often the quickest and least expensive methods used to mitigate combustible dust hazards. Our Program Development, Management of Change and Training programs are all designed and run to the highest safety standard by our industry experts.


NFPA says, “The owner/operator shall establish written procedures for operating its facility and equipment to prevent or mitigate fires, deflagrations, and explosions from combustible particulate solids.” SEAM Group can create and write your customized combustible dust policy, establishing an operational safety program unique to your facility.


NFPA says, “Written procedures to manage change to process materials, technology, equipment, procedures, and facilities shall be established and implemented.” Combustible dust hazards are complex – let our expertise guide you through the changes required to reduce the risk.


Once a combustible dust hazard has been identified, you must protect equipment with approved explosion protection and fire suppression methods. SEAM Group helps you control your dust hazard by managing the fire hazard, isolating equipment and eliminating ignition sources. Our team can follow established prescribed methods or utilize our experience to develop performance-based design solutions specifically for your facility.

Whatever your engineering need, the SEAM Group team has the experience to help resolve your issue, from managing the selection and installation of all equipment required to mitigate your hazard, or assisting you in developing an Engineering Design Guide or a Basis of Design.


Combustible dust fire and explosion risk mitigation design requirements for a specific engineered solution related to a specific engineering project.


A guidance document your company can reference anytime you are adding or modifying a combustible dust handling process, equipment or system. The design guide serves as a one stop shop reference guide for your company’s engineers.



We don’t leave your safety to just anyone. Instead, our own industry experts identify the risks associated with your dust and develop customized, comprehensive dust management procedures to reduce the risks associated with combustible dust and comply with industry standards.

Our experts are uniquely qualified to identify and resolve the complex and sometimes costly controls associated with combustible dust. Our team has OSHA experience and has been instrumental in improving safety at some of the most well-known combustible dust events.


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