In the December issue of EHS Today there is an article titled “OSHA Rules To Plan For In 2014” written by Ron Severson and Amy Boas. In the article they talk about the OSHA Combustible Dust rule that’s in the rulemaking process.
This rule had been scheduled for its Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review in October of this year, but has been rescheduled to April 2014. This is just one more delay in the rule making process. If the SBREFA actually takes place in April, the rule then goes out for public comment which can take up to 2 years to complete. And then, the final rule could take up to 3 more years to publish. With that said, an OSHA combustible dust rule is likely to be at least 5 years in the future.
We’ve passed the 5 year mark since the Imperial Sugar explosion killed a number of workers, and with another 5 years before a rule, it total at least 10 years for OSHA to publish anything on combustible dust. The good news is, OSHA does continue to inspect facilities and does issue citations and fines for those that are not taking care of potentially dangerous combustible dust situations. Additionally, NFPA has written and revised standards to address this hazardous situation: NFPA 654 Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions …, NFPA 484 Standard on Combustible Metals, NFPA Guide To Combustible Dust, and NFPA 652 Standard on Combustible Dusts which is in the development process. We’ll keep you updated as the OSHA rule making process continues down its slow path.