WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in the Oct. 21 edition of the Federal Register as an initial step in development of a standard to address the hazards of combustible dust, according to Reuters.

OSHA has been conducting a Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP) since October 2007; a status report is available at osha.gov/dep/combustibledust/NEP-status-report.pdf. The NEP has resulted in an unusually high number of general duty clause violations, indicating a strong need for a combustible dust standard. The general duty clause is not as effective as a comprehensive combustible dust standard would be at protecting workers. Responses to questions posed in the ANPR will help the agency propose an effective combustible dust standard.

Support for a combustible dust standard came from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board in 2006 and again in 2008 during a congressional hearing when the board said a new standard, combined with enforcement and education, could save workers’ lives.

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