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December 9, 2009

OSHA announces development of a combustible dust standard

Dorothy Lozowski

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking input on the approach to use in developing its federal standard for combustible dust. In its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on Combustible Dust, OSHA identified five National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) combustible dust standards that address the hazards of combustible dust processes. Of the five NFPA dust-specific standards mentioned by OSHA, NFPA 654 provides fundamental safety practices to be followed.
One approach, consistent with the National Technology and Transfer Act, P.L. 113, would be to incorporate the relevant NFPA standards by reference. This approach has been advocated for some time in the recommendations of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB; in its Combustible Dust Hazard Study, 2006-H-1, November 2006 and by Congress in its Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act of 2009, H.R. 849.
NFPA encourages all interested parties to provide input to OSHA by January 19, 2010. An electronic comment form and instructions are available at  in Docket No. OSHA-2009-0023, RIN 1218-AC41. Additional information is available from OSHA.
The NFPA standards on combustible dust – NFPA 654, 664, 61, 484, and 655 – can be viewed  from the NFPA Web page:
NFPA 654     Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
NFPA 664     Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities  
NFPA 61       Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities 
NFPA 484     Standard for Combustible Metals
NFPA 655     Standard for Prevention of Sulfur Fires and Explosions

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