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OSHA Initiates Rulemaking on Combustible Dust


November 19,2009

Following multiple catastrophic combustible dust explosions across the United States, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has formally initiated a rulemaking process to develop and adopt a comprehensive combustible dust standard within the United States. OSHA began a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) originally published in October 2007 and reissued in March 2008 that included inspections targeting dust explosion hazards in specific industries. These inspections resulted in citations to facilities using existing OSHA regulations and the General Duty Clause.

Any standard addressing combustible dust related hazards potentially affects a significant number of industries including but not limited to, agriculture, animal food manufacturing, grain handling, food manufacturing, wood product manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, textile manufacturing, furniture manufacturing, metal processing, pesticide manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, tire manufacturing, rubber and plastics recycling, wastewater treatment, and coal handling and processing.

Exponent engineers understand current industry standards and recommended practices (for example, the National Fire Protection Association Standard 654 Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids) and are currently assisting clients in understanding how to best protect life, property, business operation, and the environment from the harmful effects of dust fires and explosions. We have extensive experience in analytical and experimental investigation and analysis techniques for the investigation and prevention of dust explosions and are experienced in conducting Process Hazard Analyses of new or existing facilities and developing alternative methodologies to mitigate dust explosion hazards.