OSHA Schedules May 13 Combustible Dust Forum

OSHA has scheduled a Combustible Dust Expert Forum on May 13 to consider possible regulatory options that could help protect workers from combustible dust hazards.

Combustible dusts include fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks or flakes that, under certain conditions, can cause a fire or explosion when suspended in air. According to OSHA, nearly 150 workers have lost their lives and more than 850 were injured in combustible dust explosions since 1980. In February 2008, 14 workers were killed and dozens more were injured in the Imperial Sugar Refinery explosion in Port Wentworth, Ga.

OSHA first initiated rulemaking to address combustible dust hazards in October 2009. Most recently, in a January Web chat, OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels called combustible dust legislation “a complex project that could affect a large number of industry sectors.” He added that the agency “must conduct considerable research to ensure that the resulting standard effectively protects workers and meets legal requirements.”

This forum strives to identify regulatory options that can both protect workers and minimize the costs to small- and medium-sized businesses working to reduce or prevent combustible dust hazards. Representatives from various industries, academia, research groups, insurance-underwriter organizations, labor and government will comprise the expert representation.

The forum will be held at 9 a.m. at the Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., with limited space available for non-participating observers. To register as a non-participating observer, contact Bill Hamilton at 202-693-2077 by May 6.

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