OSHA has commenced rulemaking to develop a combustible dust standard. It is at the top of the 2012 regulatory agenda.
This standard has been needed for some time. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) completed a study of combustible dust hazards in late 2006, which identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers and injured another 718. That is about eleven incidents per year.
OSHA has previously addressed aspects of this risk. For example, on July 31, 2005, OSHA published the Safety and Health Information Bulletin, “Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions.” Additionally, OSHA implemented a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) March 11, 2008. OSHA will use the information gathered from the NEP to assist in the development of this rule.
OSHA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) October 21, 2009. Additionally, stakeholder meetings were held in Washington, DC on December 14, 2009, in Atlanta, GA on February 17, 2010, and in Chicago, IL on April 21, 2010.