Most Wanted Safety Improvement: OSHA Combustible Dust Standard
Combustible dust-fueled fires and explosions continue to injure and claim the lives of workers across a broad spectrum of industries, including the food, chemical, paper, pharmaceutical, and metal processing industries. In 2006, after investigating three combustible dust-related incidents over a two year period, the CSB conducted an in-depth study that identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers, injured 718, and extensively damaged industrial facilities. Since that time, the CSB has conducted four additional investigations into dust-related incidents, and the agency’s Office of Incident Screening and Selection continues to identify serious dust-related incidents on a regular basis.
The CSB believes that a general industry standard for combustible dust is greatly needed to prevent future tragedies. OSHA commenced rulemaking in October 2009; however, the agency has yet to issue a proposed rule. Moreover, the next step in the rulemaking process, the convening of a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel, has been postponed several times.