WASHINGTON -- Combustible dust will be the topic of a full-day program scheduled May 13 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA said the Combustible Dust Expert Forum will explore possible regulatory options for addressing ComDust hazards. OSHA said, discussions will include identifying regulatory options that can minimize the costs to small- and medium-sized businesses of reducing or preventing combustible dust hazards, while protecting workers from these hazards. Representatives from various industries, academia, research groups, insurance-underwriter organizations, labor, and government will comprise expert representation.

The forum is the latest in a series of public hearings organized by OSHA since developing a National Emphasis Program in 2007 that targets inspection efforts on facilities that create or handle combustible dusts, including wood dust.

OSHA said nearly 150 workers have been killed and more than 850 injured in combustible dust explosions since 1980. A sugar dust blast in February 2008 at Imperial Sugar's plant in Port Wentworth, GA, that killed 14 workers, led OSHA to begin efforts to potentially develop a combustible dust rule.

OSHA has received more than 100 written comments, held six stakeholders meetings and conducted a Web chat on combustible dust.
 
OSHA said combustible dusts include fine particles, fibers, chips, chunks or flakes that, under certain conditions, can cause a fire or explosion when suspended in air. In addition to wood, types of dusts include metal, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar and paper

A summary of the forum will be available soon after the meeting on OSHA's Combustible Dust Web page.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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