The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began writing a combustible dust rule in early 2009, right after Barack Obama took office on a campaign promise (among many others) to have the agency author such a rule. It was “long past time” for action on combustible dust, he had noted during his campaigning in 2008.
Issued during Thanksgiving week this year when few were around the capital, the Department of Labor (DOL) Fall Regulatory Agenda seemed to put the kibosh on the whole project.
After five years of working on the rule, OSHA announced in the DOL agenda that it had no timetable for its completion, basically meaning it won’t be issued during the Obama presidency.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which has no regulatory authority of its own but keeps track of combustible dust accidents, first began lobbying OSHA for a rule in 2006. That same year, the CSB issued a landmark report detailing 281 combustible dust accidents between 1980 and 2005, which resulted in 119 deaths and 718 injuries. Between 2008 and 2013, the CSB found 50 more incidents resulting in 29 deaths and 161 injuries.
According to OSHA on its website: “Combustible dusts are fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in air under certain conditions. A dust explosion can cause catastrophic loss of life, injuries, and destruction of buildings.”
Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, OSHA reporting requirements will change. Employers will be responsible for reporting all fatal work injuries within 8 hours, and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. The agency has also updated the list of industries required to keep injury and illness records. Fortunately, we at Personnel Concepts have created the perfect compliance companion for these new reporting requirements. Get a copy of our OSHA Recordkeeping and Reporting Compliance Kit, which is brand new and up to date with all the new requirements.