OSHA Revises Rule On Hazardous Dust Explosions

In 2007, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a study on reducing the risk of dust explosions, which concluded that existing efforts to address the hazards of combustible dust explosions were inadequate. On March 20, a revised Hazard Communication rule was filed at the Office of the Federal Register that effectively accomplishes recommendations made by the CSB report.

A statement on the OSHA website advises that "The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The update will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.

Once implemented, the revised standard will help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for U.S. businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals while providing cost savings for businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.

Major changes focus on hazard classification, labels, and safety data sheets. OSHA has not provided a definition for combustible dust to the final HCS, as well as in the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the GHS (UN/SCEGHS). However, combustible dust is now included in the definition of "hazardous chemical.” 

In the final HCS, combustible dust hazards must be addressed on labels and SDSs. Label elements are provided for combustible dust in the final HCS and include the signal word "warning" and the hazard statement "May form combustible dust concentrations in the air.”

Training is now specifically required to include combustible dust hazards. Employers will be required to train their employees by December 2013 with full implementation of the rule in 2015.

For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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