OSHA hosts web chat on combustible dust

In a "virtual" stakeholder meeting this week, OSHA officials solicited advice on the agency's development of a combustible dust standard.

Attendees expressed concerns about the definition of combustible dust, which OSHA has not yet nailed down. Some commenters suggested limiting the scope to exclude dusts not imbued with combustible or explosive material.

Others were concerned about regulation through the use of the dust deflagration index, which measures the relative explosive severity compared to other dusts. Stakeholders argued the index is too broad and would include dusts that pose little to no hazard.

Others expressed worry about the cost and execution of testing for combustibility, noting many small businesses that could be subject to the standard may not be able to afford required testing.

The next step in the rulemaking process for OSHA is the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review, expected to occur in April 2011.

The meeting, held via web chat, was conducted in real time to give those who were unable to attend the face-to-face meetings in Atlanta, Chicago and Washington an opportunity to participate, OSHA administrator David Michaels said. OSHA has been increasingly using such technology, and this marks the first time a web chat was dedicated to a proposed standard.

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