OSHA intends to establish a SBREFA panel in October 2016 as it works to develop a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry.

Combustible Dust Standard Drawing Closer?

OSHA intends to establish a SBREFA panel in October 2016 as it works to develop a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry.

OSHA's website lists 15 of its standards that have some bearing on employers' responsibility for controlling potential accumulations of combustible dusts to prevent catastrophic explosions, not including the all-important General Duty Clause the agency can use in enforcement cases. But there is a document on the reginfo.gov website of OIRA, the federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, that indicates OSHA is moving a small step closer to issuing a standard specifically about combustible dust hazards: an indication that OSHA intends to establish a SBREFA panel in October 2016.

OIRA is a gatekeeper agency: It reviews federal agencies' proposed and final regulations before they become effective, and some rules have languished there for extended periods. SBREFA refers to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, enacted in 1980. The law requires that OSHA and EPA set up these panels to review a proposed rule's impact on small businesses.

The OIRA document was noticed by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board -- Board Member Kristen Kulinowski, Ph.D., alerted her Twitter followers about it May 27. Her tweet: "5 yrs after 3rd dust explosion at Hoeganaes, @OSHA to initiate small biz review on combustible dust std."

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