In late 2009, OSHA released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for combustible dust hazards, investigating regulatory methods of reducing the hazards associated with combustible dust at industrial facilities. In December 2009, stakeholder meetings were held in Washington, D.C. to allow industry’s voice to be heard on the issue. Now OSHA has set January 19, 2010 as the date by which all comments from interested or affected parties need to be submitted. All of these steps point to the fact that OSHA continues to progress in the rulemaking process, and the completion of formal regulations is not far away.
Even though this rulemaking process is incomplete, OSHA is already taking enforcement steps based on the Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP), which was reissued in March 2008 and is concerned with facilities at which combustible dust is likely to pose a hazard. OSHA officials are currently performing inspections to enforce this NEP, and nationally nearly 4,000 violations have already been issued during over 800 inspections. Therefore, industrial facilities do not have the option of passively waiting until OSHA rulemaking is finalized to take steps toward compliance. To ensure facility safety, as well as avoid costly fines, facilities should work to identify and eliminate combustible dust hazards as soon as possible.
Combustible dust, according to OSHA, is often either organic or metal dust that is finely ground into very small particles and presents a fire or explosion hazard when suspended in air. These dusts exist in a wide variety of industries, and a number of factors must be evaluated to determine a dust’s combustibility, including particle size, shape, and moisture content.
CTI is available to assist your facility in evaluating and mitigating hazards associated with combustible dust.