National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
The NFPA is a global self-funded non-profit organization that was established in 1896. Founded in the desire to help avoid death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards, the NFPA offers information and knowledge to professionals. The NFPA delivers this information and knowledge through consensus codes and standards.
Combustible Dust Standards
As it relates to combustible dust hazards, the NFPA created a set of standards to guide safety professionals. NFPA 652 offers plant managers, engineers, and safety operators the fundamentals to ensure safety from combustible dust fires and explosions. Industry-specific standards then provide additional details specific to the respective commodity or industry they cover.
Industry-Specific Combustible Dust Standards
Five industry-specific standards are as follows.
- NFPA 61 — Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities
- NFPA 484 —Combustible Metals
- NFPA 654 — Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
- NFPA 655 —Prevention of Sulfur Fires and Explosions
- NFPA 664 —Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities
The NFPA also created two additional standards, NFPA 68 and NFPA 69 to serve as how-to standards for designing and applying safety solutions. One of the NFPA 652 requirements to ensuring combustible dust safety is a dust hazard analysis or DHA. Chapter 7 of NFPA 652 provides detailed descriptions and explanations of a DHA, but in short, a DHA is a vital step in identifying combustible dust hazards. An expert undertakes a DHA on behalf of the plant or plant operator and begins by understanding the materials that are in use and the processes that are in place. These two items, the materials being used and processes in place, are the primary focus of a DHA. Since the DHA is a roadmap to identify, understand, and mitigate the risk of combustible dust, it is a retroactive requirement under NFPA 652.
Combustible Dust Consolidation Plan
Though NFPA 652 and the industry-specific standards have served as useful documents to work towards mitigating or eliminating risk from combustible dust, some engineers and plant operators have found the series of documents difficult to understand and implement. Companies with operations across several industries, for example, have found gaps in safety standards. In an effort to improve the document, the NFPA is in the process of consolidating the combustible dust standards into a clear and comprehensive code, the NFPA 660.
NFPA 660 will improve the language, consistency, and recommendations, ensuring the focus is on mitigating combustible dust risk across divergent industries or processes. Outlining the risk and plan for safety is the fundamental goal of the NFPA 660, which is expected to be released in 3-5 years.