Combustible Dust Bill Introduced

A summary of H.R. 849

osha-logoWorker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act of 2009 – Requires the Secretary of Labor to promulgate an interim final standard regulating combustible dusts, which shall apply to manufacturing, processing, blending, conveying, repackaging, and handling of combustible particulate solids and their dusts (including organic dusts, plastics, sulfur, wood, rubber, furniture, textiles, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, fibers, dyes, coal, metals, and fossil fuels), but shall not apply to processes already covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standard on grain facilities.

Requires such standard to provide requirements for:
(1) a hazard assessment to identify, evaluate, and control combustible dust hazards;
(2) a written program that includes provisions for hazardous dust inspection, testing, hot work, ignition control, and housekeeping;
(3) engineering controls, administrative controls, and operating procedures;
(4) housekeeping to prevent accumulation of combustible dust in places of employment in depths that can present explosion, deflagration, or other fire hazards, including safe methods of dust removal;
(5) employee participation in hazard assessment, development of and compliance with the written program, and other elements of hazard management; and
(6) providing safety and health information and annual training to employees.
Provides an exemption from otherwise applicable rulemaking requirements for the interim standard but not for the final standard.
Provides that such interim standard shall have the legal effect of an occupational safety and health standard and shall apply until a final standard becomes effective.

Requires the Secretary of Labor to promulgate a final occupational safety and health standard regulating combustible dust explosions that has the same scope and worker protection provisions as the interim rule and provides requirements for:
(1) managing change of dust producing materials, technology, equipment, staffing, and procedures;
(2) building design, such as explosion venting, ducting, and sprinklers; and
(3) explosion protection, including separation and segregation of the hazard.

Requires the final rule to include relevant and appropriate provisions of the National Fire Protection Association combustible dust standards.

Requires the Secretary to revise the hazard communications standard to amend the definition of “physical hazard” to include “a combustible dust” as an additional example of such a hazard.

aihaAIHA offered the following recommendations: 1) “for the periodic inspection and maintenance of engineering controls and equipment, recordkeeping of the results of the inspections, and correction of any problems found during the inspections within a reasonable time.” 2) “determine whether or not it is possible for OSHA to promulgate a final standard within 18 months of enactment of the legislation.”

The letter stressed that while AIHA does not wish to delay a final standard, the association recognizes it could be difficult for OSHA to promulgate a final standard within the 18-month time frame.