OSHA Starts Combustible Dust Rulemaking

OSHA also is moving forward the proposed regulation governing workers' exposure to diacetyl food flavoring by convening a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel May 5.

Regulatory action on two hot issues in workplace safety was announced April 29 by U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. The more significant announcement is that OSHA will issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on combustible dust and hold meetings to take comments from stakeholders. The dust explosion at Imperial Sugar's Port Wentworth, Ga., sugar refinery renewed interest on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, and OSHA officials have been pressed in more than one congressional hearing to move ahead with a standard, which the previous administration resisted.

Solis also announced OSHA is moving forward the proposed regulation governing workers' exposure to diacetyl food flavoring by convening a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel May 5. SBREFA is a required step in the federal regulatory scheme; it evaluates a proposed rule's likely impact on small businesses. This panel from OSHA, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will reviews the draft rule and supporting economic analyses, appoint small entity representatives to provide comments, and submit a report within 60 days after being convened. Materials provided to the representatives have been placed in Docket Number OSHA-2008-0046 at http://www.regulations.gov; OSHA will add the panel's final report to that docket.

DOL's announcement did not include a timetable for completing the combustible dust rule. "Over the years, combustible dust explosions have caused many deaths and devastating injuries that could have been prevented," Solis said there. "OSHA is reinvigorating the regulatory process to ensure workers receive the protection they need while also ensuring that employers have the tools needed to make their workplaces safer."

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