PHILADELPHIA – The Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America, which has taken a leadership role in monitoring the potential creation of a federal combustible dust rule, recently submitted written comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The letter, signed by Jamison Scott, chairman of the WMMA’s Task Force on Combustible Dust, noted, the association’s concerns about the potential cost impact the standard might have on small businesses. “We are wary of simply adopting the current voluntary National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standards as mandatory standards.”

Following is the complete text of the letter dated Feb. 12.

Dear Sir / Madam:

The Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America (WMMA) wishes to provide the following comments to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding issues related to the hazards of combustible dust in the workplace. (74 Federal Register 54334 (October 21, 2009)).

WMMA has created a task force to work on this issue and we support the establishment of fair and reasonable safety standards. We are concerned about the impact on the very small businesses that are among our customer base. These small shops do not have the resources to comply with mandatory regulations that will impose significant new burdens upon them. We know OSHA is aware of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the Small Business Enforcement Regulatory Fairness Act (SBREFA). We are certain that this rulemaking will trigger OSHA’s obligations under the provisions of the RFA and SBREFA. At the end of the day, the critical outcome of the process is that if the agency proceeds with promulgation of standards, that it identifies alternatives that mitigate the impact on small business and the final requirements are reasonable and fair to small business.

We are wary of simply adopting the current voluntary National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standards as mandatory standards. While they represent laudable goals, we do not think that all aspects of the NFPA standards make sense as specific regulatory requirements. Also, while we respect the proprietary efforts of the NFPA, we believe small businesses need access to any mandatory standard set by the federal government without having to pay a fee. Finally, the NFPA standards may simply not be compatible with an enforcement regime and could cause confusion among those who are trying to comply with the various standards. In response to your questions specifically on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), we are not clear how any of the requirements of the MSDS program could be applied to wood dust.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. We stand ready to work with OSHA as this rulemaking proceeds.

Jamison Scott
WMMA Task Force on Combustible Dust

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