OSHA Seeks Public Comment on Combustible Dust Standard

Oct. 20, 2009
Agency offers opportunity for feedback on proposed rules

The public will have an opportunity to offer its input toward establishing a combustible dust standard aimed at preventing disasters similar to the explosion that killed 14 workers at the Imperial Sugar Co. in February 2008, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said on Oct. 20.

The public has 90 days to comment on OSHA's advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR). (Click here to access the report.)

The agency will conduct stakeholder meetings and will analyze all information and comments received from the public in developing a proposed rule on combustible dust.

OSHA has been conducting a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) since October 2007. The NEP has resulted in an unusually high number of general duty clause violations, indicating a strong need for a combustible dust standard, according to OSHA.

The general duty clause is not as effective as a comprehensive combustible dust standard would be at protecting workers, OSHA reports.

Since 1980 more than 130 workers have been killed and more than 780 injured in combustible dust explosions, noted acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board recommended in November 2006 to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a comprehensive regulatory standard for combustible dust and improve requirements for dust hazard communication to workers.

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