OSHA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on combustible dust should be published soon in the Federal Register. The ANPR is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget, the final step in the intergovernmental review process. Employers with combustible dust hazards in their worksites are encouraged to participate in the rulemaking process.

Combustible dusts are solids ground into fine particles, which can cause a fire or explosion when suspended in air under certain circumstances. Common examples of combustible dusts include metal (aluminum and magnesium), wood, plastic, rubber, coal, flour, sugar, and paper, among others. OSHA has identified  a number of industries with combustible dust hazards, including agriculture, chemicals, food, grain, plastics, wood, paper, textiles, pharmaceuticals, tire and rubber manufacturing, and metal processing. While certain OSHA standards provide some protection against combustible dust, for example, Housekeeping (29 CFR 1910.22) and Electrical Equipment in Hazardous Locations (29 CFR 1910.307), OSHA does not have a single comprehensive rule to protect employees from combustible dust explosions.

Secretary of Labor Solis, in announcing the combustible dust rulemaking, stated that “OSHA is reinvigorating the regulatory process to ensure workers receive the protection they need while also ensuring that employers have the tools needed to make their workplaces safer.” We will continue to monitor closely developments in this area and update this blog when the ANPR is finally published in the Federal Register.