OSHA Revises Combustible Dust NEP, Quadrupling Inspections

OSHA has reissued its Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program Instruction, increasing enforcement activities and focusing on specific industry groups that have experienced frequent combustible dust incidents. This OSHA-wide directive cancels its previous instruction on the subject, which was issued Oct. 18, 2007. To view or download the new NEP, go to http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_03-00-008.pdf.

"Combustible dust fires or explosions can pose significant dangers in the workplace," said OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "With this new Combustible Dust NEP, the Agency will increase its activities in outreach, training, and cooperative ventures with stakeholders, as well as enhance its enforcement activities."

The purpose of this NEP is to inspect facilities that create or handle combustible dusts which can cause intense burning or other fire hazards when suspended in air, and can lead to explosions. Combustible dusts are finely ground organic or metal particles, fibers, fines, chips, chunks, flakes, or small mixtures of these materials. Types of dusts include, but are not limited to, metal (aluminum and magnesium), wood, plastic, biosolids, organic (sugar, paper, soap and dried blood), and dusts from certain textiles. Combustible dusts can be found in the agricultural, chemical, textile, forest and furniture products, wastewater treatment, metal processing, paper products, pharmaceutical and recycling operations (metal, paper and plastic) industries.

OSHA said that as a result of a recent catastrophic accident involving combustible dust at the Imperial Sugar refinery plant in Georgia, the agency is intensifying its enforcement activities at facilities where combustible dust hazards are known to exist. Under this revised NEP, each Area OSHA Office is expected to inspect at least four facilities each fiscal year. Under the previous NEP, each Area Office was expected to conduct at least one inspection.

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