As part of efforts to keep OSHA’s cooperative program participants informed of the agency’s activities, OSHA has released a status report on its Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP).  OSHA started this NEP on October 18, 2007 to inspect facilities that generate or handle combustible dust that pose a deflagration/explosion or other fire hazard.  OSHA revised the NEP on February 7, 2008 to focus on industries with more frequent and high consequence dust incidents and to include more inspections.

According to the report, OSHA and state plan states conducted more than 1,000 inspections from the inception of the Combustible Dust NEP through June 2009.  The wood products, food products, chemicals, metal products, and rubber/plastic products industries have accounted for more than 70 percent of these inspections.  OSHA and state plan states found more than 4,900 violations at the facilities inspected under the NEP. This includes not only combustible dust related violations, but also violations such as lockout/tagout, walking and working surfaces, and other hazards.  OSHA found that only 18 to 22 percent of the inspected facilities were in compliance with OSHA requirements.
 
OSHA will continue to take strong enforcement actions to address combustible dust hazards under its existing standards and the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  In addition, OSHA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the October 21, 2009 Federal Register to start the process of developing a combustible dust standard.
 
The following OSHA compliance assistance resources on combustible dust are available on the OSHA Web site at www.osha.gov: