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Combustible Dust

A series of dust explosions in non-grain related industries in recent years prompted an October 21, 2009 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on the problem of combustible dust in the workplace. OSHA asked for comments and information to be used in developing a standard to comprehensively address the fire and explosion hazards of combustible dust. The ANPR proposed to incorporate National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards by reference to address combustible dust hazards.

The OSHA announcement included agency data showing that since it began collecting data on dust incidents in 1980, there have been no such incidents in the milling industry.

In January 2010, NAMA submitted comments in opposition to the use of the NFPA standards for multiple reasons, including the inevitable confusion that would result from the discrepancies between the various NFPA combustible dust-related standards, and the fact that NFPA standards have not been subjected to the public rulemaking process – a key component of the U.S. regulatory system.

Additionally, mills are already regulated by two sets of standards: the OSHA General Duty Clause and, since 1987, a comprehensive OSHA standard that specifically addresses combustible dust hazards.

OSHA has taken no further action on this issue.

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