The February 7, 2008, explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., resulted from ongoing releases of sugar from inadequately designed and maintained dust collection equipment, conveyors and sugar-handling equipment, says the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. OSHA is working on development of combustible dust standard.
Photo courtesy of CSB

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will hold two stakeholder meetings on December 14 to discuss combustible dust workplace hazards. The meetings will be held at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST at the Marriott at Metro Center located at 775 12th St. NW in Washington, D.C.

OSHA will use comments from these meetings -- as well as responses to its advance notice of proposed rulemaking -- in developing a comprehensive standard addressing fire and explosion hazards of combustible dust. OSHA's 74 FR 54334, published in the Federal Register, requests "comments, including data and other information, on issues related to the hazards of combustible dust in the workplace."

Since 1980, more than 130 workers have been killed and more than 780 injured in combustible dust explosions, including a February 7, 2008, explosion at an Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Port Wentworth, Ga., that killed 14 people.

"Workers are dying from combustible dust explosions and it must stop," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "Worker safety must be a priority, and we are committed to enforcing effective standards to prevent a repeat of these tragedies."

The meetings' agenda will include discussions on possible regulatory approaches and the role of consensus standards.

Those intending to participate must submit notice to the agency. Electronic registration is available at: Written notice of intent to participate should be marked "Attention: OSHA Combustible Dust Stakeholder Meeting Registration" and may be sent via facsimile to (781)674-2906 or by regular mail to ERG Inc., 110 Hartwell Ave., Lexington, MA 02421.

Additional meetings are planned for early 2010.