High-profile rules like combustible dust are not likely to be finalized, during the final year of the Obama administration, OSHA-watchers say.

Combustible dust is not on the agency’s long-term agenda. OSHA has been working on the rule since 2009, and many stakeholder groups – including the Chemical Safety Board – have pushed for movement on it.

OSHA said it intends to convene hearings under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) on the rule in 2016. If those hearings take place, Marc Freedman, with the US Chamber of Commerce, said it’s likely the agency has a draft regulation. “That suggests they could get a proposal on the street,” he said.

Although this won’t amount to a final rule before Obama exits the White House, it could result in a proposed rule, on which stakeholders could comment. What happens after that would depend on Obama’s successor.

Some are doubtful that in the next year-and-a-half the agency will get to the SBREFA hearings, let alone a proposal. Even though groups such as CSB and the National Fire Protection Association have issued recommendations and consensus standards on combustible dust, OSHA views the issue as more technically complex. It may come back to resources – OSHA only has so many.

Excerpts from Safety+Health Newsletter