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CSB Gathering Public Input on Combustible Dust Issues

October 25, 2018

As part of its investigation into the May 2017 explosion at a Didion Milling facility in Wisconsin, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) unveiled a new effort this week to collect comments from industry, researchers, and other stakeholders on combustible dust management and control. 

“Our dust investigations have identified the understanding of dust hazards and the ability to determine a safe dust level in the work place as common challenges,” Kristen Kulinowski, interim executive of the CSB, said in a press release. “While there is a shared understanding of the hazards of dust, our investigations have found that efforts to manage those hazards have often failed to prevent a catastrophic explosion. To uncover why that is, we are initiating this Call to Action to gather insights and feedback from those most directly involved with combustible dust hazards.”

The agency’s “Call to Action: Combustible Dust” initiative will gather information on safe conduct of work in dust-producing environments that are at risk of dust explosion incidents, including methods of recognizing and measuring “unsafe” levels of dust, how stakeholders communicate about the hazards, and ways to maintain dust collection systems. 

Agency officials have issued four recommendations for the creation of a combustible dust-related general industry standard through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The issue is listed in the CSB’s Drivers of Critical Chemical Safety Change list. 

“Our investigation of the Didion incident continues and we are analyzing evidence to understand the specifics leading up to the tragic event. However, this investigation reinforces what we are seeing across many industries – that there needs to be a more inclusive approach to creating and maintaining a safe work environment amid processes that inherently produce dust.”

This July, OSHA halted its rulemaking process for regulations on combustible dust in general industry, citing “resource constraints and other priorities,” Powder & Bulk Solids reported. The Trump Administration-led agency stated in its regulatory agenda published July 20 this year that the abandonment of the effort to create the new rules represents “the beginning of fundamental regulatory reform and a reorientation toward reducing unnecessary regulatory burden on the American people.”

Those wishing to take part in the CSB’s effort have until Nov. 26, 2018 to email their comments to [email protected]