Experts to Discuss Combustible Dust Regulation at OSHA Forum

Discussions will include identifying regulatory options that can minimize the costs to small- and medium-sized businesses of reducing or preventing combustible dust hazards, while protecting workers from these hazards.

Since 1980, nearly 150 workers have been killed and more than 850 injured in combustible dust explosions. To explore methods for preventing such explosions, OSHA invited outside experts to participate in a Combustible Dust Expert Forum May 13, 2011. OSHA will gather experts' views on possible regulatory options for addressing combustible dust hazards.

Discussions will include identifying regulatory options that can minimize the costs to small- and medium-sized businesses of reducing or preventing combustible dust hazards, while protecting workers from these hazards. Representatives from various industries, academia, research groups, insurance-underwriter organizations, labor, and government will participate.

OSHA's earlier efforts to address combustible dust hazards included a National Emphasis Program in 2007 that targeted inspection efforts on facilities that create or handle combustible dusts. Results from these inspections indicated that facilities had unusually high numbers of general duty clause violations, indicating a strong need for a combustible dust standard. This effort was followed by publication of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2009, from which the agency received more than 100 comments. Additionally, OSHA conducted six stakeholders meetings and a Web chat on combustible dust to expand the opportunity for public and stakeholder participation. The agency recognizes the importance of considering options for addressing combustible dust hazards, particularly as they may affect small facilities, in preparation for convening a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel.

Combustible dusts include fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks, or flakes that, under certain conditions, can cause a fire or explosion when suspended in air. Types of dusts include metal (for example, aluminum and magnesium), wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar and paper, among others. Visit OSHA's Safety and Health Topics page on Combustible Dust to learn more about this dangerous hazard.

The forum will take place at 9 a.m. EDT in Washington, D.C. Go to http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=19710 for more information.

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