Stakeholder meeting attendees advise OSHA on combustible dust

Stakeholders offered their take on a combustible dust standard during an informal OSHA meeting Wednesday in Chicago.

OSHA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on combustible dust in October 2009 and has hosted other meetings to solicit feedback.

A main topic of discussion during the meeting was types of dust. "Not all dust is equal," one stakeholder pointed out, saying OSHA should keep in mind that some dust is not combustible or will ignite but not explode, and perhaps should not be subject to strict regulation.

Testing was a chief concern for some stakeholders, particularly those representing small businesses. They noted that some facilities may have several types of materials or products that generate dust, and testing the dust deflagration index, or Kst, for all of them could prove excessive. Some suggested OSHA and NIOSH create a repository of information pertaining to the Kst values of various dust types. However, others attendees cautioned that such an approach could produce only generalized values.

No timetable was given for when OSHA might release a notice of proposed rulemaking for combustible dust. However, Dorothy Dougherty, the agency's director of standards and guidance, said additional details may be highlighted in the agency's next regulatory agenda, scheduled for release sometime next week.

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