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Bill aims to prevent workplace injuries caused by dust explosions

Many times when we hear about on-the-job accidents and injuries in Michigan, the incidents have taken place in an industrial workplace or on a construction site. Of course, workplace accidents can happen anywhere, but certain industries may be more hazardous to workers. In any industry, however, it is important that employers take the necessary steps to minimize risks and keep their workers as safe as possible.

Some people may remember hearing about the horrible dust explosion that resulted in 14 deaths in an industrial facility in Georgia several years ago. Following that workplace explosion, federal lawmakers have worked on legislation to prevent dust explosions by eliminating certain hazards from industrial workplaces. Last month, lawmakers re-introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to prevent combustible dust explosions.

Under the Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would be required to apply National Fire Association Protection Standards to control the combustible dust from items like sugar, wood coal and metal.

Those against the bill have argued that it is not wise to place the same standards on all of those industries. However, in the aftermath of the 2007 Imperial Sugar dust explosion noted above, 50 combustible dust explosions have taken place in the U.S.--causing 127 injuries and 15 deaths.

Some lawmakers have argued that, currently, OSHA's powers are too limited when it comes to preventing these serious workplace incidents.

When workers in Michigan are injured due to any workplace accident or event, it is typically possible to obtain workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and time spent away from work. This is generally the case regardless of what caused the accident. In tragic cases, the family members of victims can often obtain workers' compensation benefits as well. In many cases, it is wise to work with an attorney to ensure that one will receive all of the benefits to which he or she is entitled.

Source: Woodworking Network, "Combustible Dust Bill Re-Introduced in House," Rich Christianson, Feb. 17, 2013

  • For more information about workers' compensation benefits here in Michigan, please see our personal injury law firm's Workers' Compensation page.

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