Combustible Dust Stakeholder Meeting
Chicago, IL
April 21, 2010

Meeting Summary Report

June 2, 2010


Table of Contents

1 INTRODUCTION

MORNING SESSION

2 OPENING REMARKS

3 ADMINISTRATION OF THE MEETING

4 POINTS OF GROUP DISCUSSION

5 CLOSING REMARKS

AFTERNOON SESSION

6 OPENING REMARKS

7 ADMINISTRATION OF THE MEETING

8 POINTS OF GROUP DISCUSSION

9 CLOSING REMARKS

1 Introduction

This report summarizes key discussion points from two stakeholder meetings that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) convened pertaining to its rulemaking on combustible dust. The two 3-hour meetings were held on April 21, 2010, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel-Chicago O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. The purpose of the meetings was to obtain feedback from stakeholders on issues raised in the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) of a combustible dust standard. OSHA issued the ANPR on October 21, 2009. Although the official deadline for submitting comments in response to the ANPR has passed, OSHA continues to accept comments as long as they do not delay the rulemaking process.

Announcements of the stakeholder meetings were published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2010, and explained that parties interested in attending and participating should register prior to the meetings. There were approximately 45 participants in the two meetings, including employer and labor representatives from industries that may be regulated by the standard, as well as consultants, attorneys, and other parties. All participants were given the opportunity to provide verbal comments at the meetings. Members of the general public were allowed to observe the meetings (but not participate) on a first-come, first-served basis as space permitted. There were also 80-90 observers at the two meetings.

Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG) provided logistical support for the stakeholder meetings, and a technical writer from ERG attended the meetings and prepared this summary report. This report captures the main points that stakeholders raised and discussed during the meetings, but is not a verbatim transcript of the meetings. The content throughout this report reflects the remarks made by stakeholders at the meetings and should not necessarily be viewed as the opinions of ERG or OSHA.

Combustible Dust

Stakeholder Meeting
Chicago, IL
April 21, 2010
Meeting Summary Report
Morning Session

2 Opening Remarks

Dorothy Dougherty, Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, welcomed the stakeholders to the morning session of the Combustible Dust Stakeholder Meeting. Ms. Dougherty emphasized that the stakeholders should consider the meeting an informal discussion for OSHA to gather information, rather than a formal meeting or hearing. OSHA is planning to host one additional "virtual" stakeholder meeting on combustible dust in June 2010. The purpose of this meeting was to obtain the best information for analyzing and developing a protective and feasible standard for combustible dust. OSHA has been involved in a number of activities to support the combustible dust efforts, including releasing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in October, having technical staff actively participate in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) committees, and enlisting contractors to conduct site visits. Ms. Dougherty indicated that the deadline for submitting formal written comments to OSHA had passed, but she also stated that comments and information presented at these meetings would help guide the ongoing rulemaking analysis. OSHA is also accepting formally submitted comments, as long as they do not delay the rulemaking process.

The release date of the proposed standard has not yet been determined, but Ms. Dougherty emphasized that stakeholder input will help expedite these efforts. Ms. Dougherty indicated that this rulemaking is a major priority for the current administration and that reports from previous combustible dust stakeholder meetings in Washington, DC, and Atlanta can be found on OSHA's website. Ms. Dougherty acknowledged the OSHA and Department of Labor staff who contributed to the combustible dust rulemaking effort and thanked the stakeholders for their time and participation.

3 Administration of the Meeting

Meeting facilitator Elizabeth Vasquez (of Management Consulting Associates) provided the stakeholders with an overview of the meeting format. Ms. Vasquez explained that the meeting should be considered an informal forum to present comments. Ms. Vasquez encouraged the stakeholders to provide their points of view, explaining that although the meeting was being recorded and a summary report would be developed, no attribution would be made to individual commenters. Ms. Vasquez informed the observers that OSHA would invite questions and comments from them at the end of the meeting, if time allowed. Ms. Vasquez also provided the stakeholders with an overview of the agenda. OSHA staff presented the specific questions the stakeholders were asked to address

4 Points for Group Discussion

OSHA representatives sought specific information regarding the economic impact of the combustible dust standard, the regulatory approach to hazard mitigation, flame retardant clothing, and training requirements. The following is a summary of the key stakeholder comments made during the meeting. Comments are grouped together by topic without referencing the identity of the commenter.

4.1 Economic Impact- What kinds of costs and benefits do you foresee from a proposed rule? What regulatory approaches do you think would be most effective in minimizing costs while assuring the safety of employees?

Stakeholders provided the following comments and recommendations regarding the economic impacts associated with a combustible dust standard:

  • Small industries are very concerned about economic impacts associated with a combustible dust standard. Testing dust costs approximately $600 per test, depending on the parameters that are measured. It is an unreasonable burden to require a facility that has not had an explosion in more than 100 years to test every dust created at the facility.
  • OSHA should consider developing an information database on properties of dust materials commonly encountered in industry. A full characterization would allow companies to self-certify that the dusts they produce are not combustible. Small enterprises would be able to certify through a lab, without having to pay for expensive tests.
  • The grain industry is already covered by grain-handling standard 1910.272, which should remain unchanged by the combustible dust standard. The grain industry has spent a lot of money to improve facility safety. Included in the grain-handling standard are housekeeping and training requirements, which are cost-effective methods of reducing the number of explosions, injuries, and deaths. For example, grain facilities focus on "priority areas," which include bearings and elevator belts. The grain-handling standard includes a maximum allowable dust accumulation of 1/8 inch, which has proven to be effective. The grain-handling standard does not include specific engineering controls but instead allows facilities to identify the best ways to reach performance requirements.
  • Determining the cost to meet the combustible dust standard is difficult because the cost will depend on the specific requirements of the standard as well as the age and condition of any existing dust suppression equipment.
  • Retrofitting existing dust collectors involves not only direct costs, but also engineering costs for compliance purposes and costs associated with reapplying for air permits.
  • To comply with NFPA standards, a small shop spends approximately $15,000 on dust collection equipment. That investment often is not cost-effective, as some dusts collected by this equipment have low deflagration indexes, or Kst values (~30). Under such circumstances, administrative controls should be considered in place of more costly engineering controls.
  • The food industry, which conducts spray drying operations, is concerned about adopting a regulatory system similar to the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard. Many facilities in the food industry employ only 40 to 100 people, so they lack the personnel and resources to effectively implement a PSM-like standard. Some facilities produce more than 1,000 different products, and to test every dust could cost more than $100,000
  • Retrofitting existing systems presents numerous challenges. Explosion venting is feasible in newer facilities but difficult in older ones. Installing explosion suppression equipment is very expensive. One facility spent $250,000 to add a suppression system, but this retrofit also raised operational costs by increasing the chance of false tripping problems. It costs $15,000 to reset a suppression system every time it experiences a false trip.
  • OSHA should consider applying different rules to new and existing facilities. The incremental cost of installing risk-reduction measures in legacy systems is too great. Also, moving dust collectors outdoors or on a roof in a legacy system creates new concerns, such as falling hazards.
  • Moving dust collectors outdoors requires reconfiguring ductwork and increases static resistance and horsepower requirements, which add significant operational costs. Moving dust collectors outdoors greatly diminishes a facility's production flexibility.
  • Implementing housekeeping requirements is a cost-effective method for reducing risk.
  • OSHA should not target every dust with Kst greater than zero. OSHA has limited resources in terms of money and inspectors, so the agency would be better served to focus on high-risk applications. Treating all dust that has a Kst greater than zero would reflect poor management of OSHA's resources.
  • For the foundry industry, not treating all dust as equal has significant economic ramifications. The industry has conducted follow-up hazard analysis on selected dusts with Kst values marginally greater than zero and found that the dusts in question could never combust in realistic settings. OSHA should require facilities to conduct an initial screening test on each dust to determine if the dust in question can be ignited in laboratory settings. For dust ignited in a laboratory, other factors, such as maximum explosion pressure (Pmax) and minimum ignition energy (MIE), should be considered before designating a dust as "combustible."
  • A foundry representative shared costs of testing dusts. For each dust, an initial laboratory screening costs $500; and additional testing to determine combustibility in real-life settings cost $2,300. Most foundries create at least 10 different types of dust.
  • Wood industry facilities have paid $2,500 to determine the Kst and MIE of each dust. Many of these facilities handle several types of wood, creating a number of different dusts and making the overall economic burden for testing rather substantial. The OSHA standard should only require the testing of a representative sample of dusts.
  • For small metal fabrication facilities working with multiple metals and alloys, testing each individual dust quickly becomes prohibitively expensive.
  • Coal-fired power plants have paid a one-time expense of $5 million to $15 million to comply with NFPA 654, with the cost largely dependent on the age of the facility. OSHA should consider that facilities will also have to pay additional operations and maintenance (O&M) costs once retrofits are installed.

4.2 Regulatory Approach to Hazard Mitigation - How do you determine where engineering and administrative controls are applied? Are there processes, engineering controls or administrative controls that are best tailored for a performance-based approach? Where should a specification based approach be used? Should the requirements be different based on the size of the facility or the number of employees?

  • OSHA should consider extending the grain-handling standard to encompass combustible dust in the agricultural industry. Agricultural dust is very similar to grain dust, so the hazards should be addressed with a similar standard.
  • OSHA should develop a flexible standard that is not "one size fits all." The flexibility of the OSHA standard should accommodate the risk of a combustible dust, not the size of the company. Risk-reduction factors required by the standard should be based solely on the combustible dust hazard.
  • Metal fabrication facilities weld and cut numerous alloys, creating dusts that have different properties than the base material. Although these dusts burn, they have never been tied to an explosion. OSHA should not cover these facilities with a standard similar to NFPA 484, which has restrictions on the location and type of dust collectors. OSHA should instead apply a standard similar to NFPA 654, which is more suitable based on the hazard created by the dust.
  • The foundry industry generates mineral-based dust, which does not create a combustibility hazard. Therefore, OSHA should not include a uniform restriction on the dust accumulation thickness in the standard, because some dusts do not create a combustion hazard.
  • The grain-handling standard has been very successful because it was developed with a process that included input from industry. OSHA should consider extending the grain-handling standard to other industries where it can be applied successfully.
  • Under the general duty clause, OSHA has stated that any Kst greater than zero represents a combustible dust hazard. That determination would be problematic for many industries that create dusts with Kst less than 20. OSHA should create a nuanced standard that considers other factors when determining the combustion hazard, because some dust can burn but will not explode.
  • Kst is an important parameter that OSHA should consider in the standard. However, MIE is more important for determining a hazard. MIE indicates whether an industrial process can provide sufficient energy to ignite the dust. If the energy required for ignition is not available, then protection measures should not be required.
  • The wood industry follows NFPA 664, which is successful because it is tailored specifically to the wood industry. Following NFPA 654 would be burdensome because it has a maximum allowable dust accumulation thickness that would be difficult for this industry to obtain.
  • OSHA should consider that the 1/8-inch maximum allowable dust accumulation thickness is difficult to apply in some scenarios. For example, raw material warehouses of wood pellet manufacturing and particle board manufacturing facilities contain 30-foot deep piles of wood shavings.
  • Some chemical manufacturers have been following the PSM standard and have applied the 14 elements of that standard to combustible dust. Extending the PSM standard to combustible dust has been successful.
  • Using selected components of the PSM standard has provided a good approach to combustible dust in terms of housekeeping and training measures. Monitoring of the program, however, is difficult because a dedicated employee would be required to fulfill a monitoring role.
  • It would be inappropriate to extend the PSM standard to agricultural dust because agricultural dust hazards are well-established. Therefore, it would be overkill to require experts to periodically evaluate hazards associated with each new facility process.
  • Retrofitting existing equipment can introduce new hazards, such as confined space issues or lockout issues, during maintenance of the new equipment.
  • Factory Mutual Global classifies some dusts as "hard to ignite," which is a good way to determine which dusts do not have much explosive potential. Once a dust is known to have a Kst greater than zero, 400-joule igniters are used to determine a dust's actual explosive potential.
  • OSHA should consider that implementing housekeeping requirements for the coal handling industry would create concerns about water resources. Coal handling facilities control dust by using additional water for washdown, which diminishes water quality, increases potential for corrosion, and increases water usage.
  • Industries struggle with the regulatory balance between OSHA, which wants dust removed quickly, and EPA, which wants dust to be contained.
  • It would be helpful, particularly for small businesses, to have an easy way to determine whether a dust is combustible. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) generally do not contain highly specific combustion information, but perhaps the OSHA standard should require the inclusion of that information.
  • The ANPR acknowledged a hierarchy of controls (e.g., primary, secondary). The OSHA standard should not take a rigid approach to the hierarchy of controls. In some cases, secondary controls may be more effective than primary controls and thus should be implemented before the primary controls.
  • The cane sugar industry has found that a blend of primary and secondary controls have been more effective than implementing only primary or secondary controls.
  • It is difficult to determine the correct blend of primary and secondary controls at the general or industry-specific level. Individual facilities must thoroughly review their processes and engineering before determining which measures are most appropriate. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) issued a risk assessment process safety standard in 2008, and revised in 2010. That standard addresses how a facility can follow a hazard-reduction hierarchy and demonstrates how a standard of that nature can be structured.
  • MSDSs often lack useful information. Suppliers make overprotective claims (e.g., this product may cause cancer, this product may explode) because they have an incentive to protect themselves from liability. More informative and specific MSDSs would assist companies in appropriately following a combustible dust standard. Currently, there is no reason for a supplier not to contain overprotective information on an MSDS.
  • Caution should be used when considering generic Kst values, because the Kst of a material changes once the material has entered the manufacturing process (e.g., with changing moisture content or particle size distribution). For the manufacturing industry, this change limits the usefulness of an MSDS that contains accurate combustion information about a material that may be subsequently processed.
  • Machinery safety manufacturers apply standards requirements using a high-, medium-, and low-risk structure, making the application of the OSHA standard less generic. A similar prioritization based on combustion hazard could be useful in determining which risk-reduction measures should be used. OSHA or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) could conduct general tests to indicate the expected level of dust hazards (e.g., high, medium, low) experienced by specific industries.
  • A repository of combustion hazard information would be valuable. OSHA or NIOSH should classify the combustion hazard for specific materials undergoing certain industrial processes. If a database with specific information is infeasible, one with general information would still be helpful to industry.
  • Companies that have been conducting the same processes for 100 years without an explosion should be exempt from additional risk-reduction measures specified by the OSHA standard.
  • A common Kst value cannot be assumed for a single material. Coal, for example, can have Kst values ranging from 50 to 390 depending on its physical state. For materials with widely ranging combustion hazards, samples that might present the highest risk are tested, and more conservative values (safety factors) are assumed. Some companies implement hazard-reduction measures based on the safety factors, which keeps the facilities safe even if there are slight changes to the base material.
  • Explosions have occurred at facilities without any previous explosions, so those facilities cannot be wholly exempted from the OSHA standard. Using historical perspective can be dangerous because materials and processes change gradually over time, potentially creating a hazard.
  • One of NFPA's standards has a lower limit for dust collector size, beyond which the only available form of protection is containment.
  • Companies often ask which of NFPA's five combustible dust standards apply to their facilities. NFPA is considering combining the five standards into one overarching standard.

4.3 Flame Retardant Clothing-Is the general hazard assessment provision in OSHA's PPE standard adequate for the hazards of combustible dust? If not, please describe an alternative regulatory approach that OSHA may take regarding flame-resistant clothing, such as basing its standard on the provisions in NFPA 2113?

  • Some automotive industry facilities already use flame-retardant clothing and believe the existing regulations are adequate but merely need to be reevaluated based on risk.
  • The grain and feed industry does not support the use of flame-retardant clothing. Housekeeping measures have already reduced the number of fatalities. Requiring flame-retardant clothing would probably cause more problems and expense than it would be worth.
  • OSHA's personal protective equipment (PPE) standard sufficiently addresses flame-retardant clothing, allowing employers to conduct hazard assessments and determine whether flame-retardant clothing is necessary.
  • Employees who are required to wear flame-retardant clothing sometimes express negative opinions on the comfort of the clothing. Extreme employee discomfort might cause a more significant safety hazard than would have been prevented by the flame-retardant clothing.

4.4 Training Requirements-Should OSHA consider a provision based on a minimum number of training hours, a certification-based provision, a competency-based provision, or another approach? Please describe how your recommended approach could be implemented, for example, how could competency be measured?

  • Oftentimes, before an incident occurs, employees were unaware that a hazard existed.
  • General awareness training provided to operators at sugar facilities revealed that some employees were unaware that sugars or flours could combust. A follow-up questionnaire indicated that a simple training course can be very beneficial at conveying the existence of hazards. A certification requirement, however, is probably unnecessary.
  • The grain-handling standard requires annual training, and training whenever job responsibilities change. This simple requirement, which does not mandate a number of training hours or competency, has been very successful.
  • The main hurdle to overcome via training is the lack of awareness regarding combustible hazards. A competency assessment would not help to convey that awareness, but basic training would.
  • Training should focus on three areas:
    • Identification and communication of materials to which the worker will be exposed.
    • Hazard awareness.
    • Measures that can be used to prevent dust incidents during normal job operations.

4.5 Additional Remarks, Questions

  • OSHA should develop a database similar to one used in Europe, which tabulates the combustion hazard of numerous dusts rather than requiring companies to test each dust they create.
  • More than 100 combustible dust fires occurred in 2009 in the United States. Only 17 percent of those fires included an explosion, and none of them caused secondary explosions. None of the combustible dust fires that occurred in 2009 resulted in a fatality. These "near misses" receive less media coverage and publicity but still need to be addressed by OSHA.
  • Trade associations and industry associations can play a large role in advancing safety. Some associations already gather for annual conferences to share safety information.
  • OSHA informed the stakeholders that the standard will focus on both explosions and fires, depending on the hazard level created by each type of incident.
  • The OSHA standard should treat explosions and fires differently. Dust fires occur in dust collectors, but those fires are contained and do not create an explosion risk.
  • If the standard regulates all dust with a Kst greater than zero, facilities will eventually have to be dust-free.
  • Dust-related fires are the most frequent cause of dust explosions.
  • If the OSHA standard would either 1) require preliminary testing to determine the combustion hazard of each dust or 2) require the implementation of hazard-reduction measures because of a suspected combustion hazard, companies would prefer the former.
  • Companies should not be required to meet a predetermined maximum allowable dust accumulation thickness set by the OSHA standard. Companies should be allowed to determine what dust accumulation thickness is acceptable for their facilities.
  • In NFPA performance-based standards, if a company can prove that an explosive hazard does not exist, the company is not required to follow the prescriptive requirements. The shortcoming of this policy is that companies are often unsure of which authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) need to sign off on the hazard analysis. If OSHA uses a similar exemption policy, the standard needs to clearly define which AHJ should approve the hazard analysis.
  • OSHA should consider allowing trade associations to conduct testing that is representative of the dusts created by an industry's base materials and processes. Because some facilities are atypical, however, OSHA would reserve the right to enforce at facilities assumed to be exempt based on the trade association testing. Companies must be accountable for the risks and hazards to which employees are exposed.
  • A database containing combustion information about dusts would need to represent the "worst case" scenario.
  • The grain-handling standard has been effective for the grain industry. The industry worries that OSHA's new combustible dust standard would apply to the grain industry, despite the existence of an already-effective standard. The new standard could introduce complexities and costs without providing additional benefits.
  • For other OSHA standards, compliance with an industry standard does not represent compliance with the OSHA standard. However, noncompliance with the industry standard is grounds for a citation from OSHA. During this rulemaking, OSHA needs to consider and clearly define the relationship between OSHA's standards and various voluntary (or industry) standards.
  • Some companies are already taking steps and investing resources to comply with NFPA 654. These companies should be recognized for their efforts and should not be required to rework their operations for OSHA's combustible dust standard.
  • With regard to flame-retardant clothing, OSHA can use the factors presented in NFPA 2113 ("Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire"), which recommend basing decisions on a hazard analysis. Similar requirements are already published in OSHA's personal protective equipment standard. Refer to 29 CFR 1910.132(d).
  • OSHA will not receive regulatory resistance from companies that use highly combustible dusts. Companies that use dusts with minimal combustibility do not see much safety value provided by regulation, and therefore, they will be the companies to provide pushback to the OSHA standard.
  • Secondary explosions need to be a focus of this standard. The recent incidents highlighted by the media have been caused by secondary explosions

5 Closing Remarks

OSHA representatives thanked the stakeholders for their participation. Ms. Dougherty emphasized that the stakeholder input will significantly help OSHA formulate the standard. Ms. Dougherty requested that any stakeholders interested in volunteering for site visits contact OSHA. Alternatively, Ms. Dougherty mentioned that volunteers could remain anonymous to OSHA by dealing directly with OSHA's contractor.


* * * *

Combustible Dust
Stakeholder Meeting
Chicago, IL
April 21, 2010
Meeting Summary Report
Afternoon Session

6 Opening Remarks

Dorothy Dougherty, Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, welcomed the stakeholders to the afternoon session of the Combustible Dust Stakeholder Meeting. Ms. Dougherty made the same opening remarks as at the morning session Dorothy Dougherty, Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, welcomed the stakeholders to the afternoon session of the Combustible Dust Stakeholder Meeting. Ms. Dougherty made the same opening remarks as at the morning session (see Section 1 of this report).

7 Administration of the Meeting

Elizabeth Vasquez, the meeting facilitator, provided the stakeholders with the same overview as at the morning session (see Section 2 of this report)

8 Points of Group Discussion

OSHA representatives sought specific information regarding the regulatory approach to hazard mitigation, the economic impact of the combustible dust standard, flame retardant clothing, and training requirements. The following is a summary of the key stakeholder comments made during the meeting. Comments are grouped together by topic without referencing the identity of the commenter.

8.1 Regulatory Approach to Hazard Mitigation - How do you determine where engineering and administrative controls are applied? Are there processes, engineering controls or administrative controls that are best tailored for a performance-based approach? Where should a specification based approach be used? Should the requirements be different based on the size of the facility or the number of employees?

  • The best engineering control for reducing a combustible dust hazard is a dilution ventilation system. Air from the dilution system is exhausted outdoors. OSHA standard 94 should be referenced for information on general dilution ventilation systems.
  • NFPA 654 and NFPA 484 recognize that different dusts create different hazards. Both of these standards allow users to perform a risk evaluation to determine the level of protection that is appropriate. The OSHA standard should include a similar provision but should make it clear which organizations could sign off on the risk evaluations as an AHJ.
  • OSHA should consider creating a risk table or risk-ranking matrix. Pharmaceutical companies have crafted similar tables containing dust explosion properties, which could be used as guides.
  • Zero Kst should not be the cutoff for dust that is not regulated by the OSHA standard. Greater than zero Kst includes too many materials that pose limited hazards, as aggregates are the only dusts with Kst equal to zero.
  • OSHA should consider including requirements from NFPA 70 in its standard.
  • A hybrid standard based on performance and prescriptive controls would be most effective.
  • The OSHA standard should include performance-based requirements, because unlike prescriptive controls, performance-based requirements allow for flexibility and adaptation by the regulated companies.
  • OSHA reiterated that if the OSHA standard makes reference to a pre-existing standard from NFPA or another organization, the standard would still undergo the same development and review process.
  • OSHA should be wary of adopting NFPA 654. In the mid-1900s, NFPA standard committees included numerous industry representatives who understood how to translate safety into reality. Membership on the committees for NFPA 654 and other standards is now heavily populated with consultants who are removed from the responsibility of achieving a balance between safety and practicality. The lack of practicality was demonstrated when NFPA 654 incorporated PSM, which is not cost-effective.
  • NFPA abides by membership diversity requirements, so the committees that craft standards have balanced interests. Therefore, NFPA standards should be considered unbiased and practical.
  • NFPA standards frequently reference other NFPA standards, making them difficult to interpret for businesses with limited resources.
  • The OSHA standard should be easily understood and readily accessible for small businesses and start-up businesses that do not have access to a sophisticated staff or a professional group.
  • The OSHA standard should include job hazard analysis and should not rely solely on prescriptive controls, because these controls do not accommodate variability between facilities and companies. A hybrid standard that includes several layers of protection in the form of training, housekeeping controls, and performance-based requirements would be most effective.
  • The OSHA standard needs to promote an equivalent level of safety regardless of the size of the employer.
  • The economic impact of the OSHA standard could be minimized by giving each company the option of pursuing either prescriptive or performance-based controls. This would allow technically savvy companies to develop economically advantageous programs without compromising safety.
  • The OSHA standard needs to be clearly defined, and OSHA inspectors need to agree on exactly which standards apply to individual facilities. Currently, there are five different NFPA standards that pertain to combustible dust, and each contains different requirements depending on the specific materials being evaluated. As a result, different OSHA inspectors have been issuing citations in an inconsistent manner and that refer to different sets of industry standards.
  • When developing prescriptive controls, OSHA should consider process materials (dusts), process conditions (processes that generate dust), and process situations (ignition sources).
  • OSHA should develop a matrix using Kst, Pmax, and MIE, which could identify the combinations of material properties that constitute a low-risk dust. Low-risk dusts, even those with Kst greater than zero, should be controlled by fewer regulations, or exempt from controls in the OSHA standard.
  • Dust collector manufacturers have followed the rule that dust collectors need an explosion vent for any dust with Kst greater than 100.
  • Kst category 1 dusts, a category from the regulatory approach defined as zero to 200 Kst, is too large a category. This category needs to be split so that dusts on the higher or lower ends of the scale have different requirements.
  • A multifaceted hazard characterization would be required for determining which dusts present a risk low enough to warrant exemption from the OSHA standard. Properties similar to ignition sensitivity ratios or explosion severity ratios could be examined to determine which dusts present a limited hazard. Even dusts that do not generate violent explosions may be easily ignited, therefore posing a significant risk.
  • Tests to determine Kst are not identical between OSHA and industry (i.e., they use different testing methods). Aligning these tests would allow for a greater confidence in the characteristics of, and hazard presented by, a dust.
  • Some companies are capable of performing a risk analysis based on the dust present in their facilities. Smaller companies will likely not have access to the resources necessary to conduct an analysis and therefore, would prefer a level of prescriptive controls. Smaller companies would also be good candidates for compliance assistance.
  • In preparation for the OSHA standard, a large number of companies have started conducting full characterizations of their dust. In response to this increase in characterization tests, ASTM has modified E1226-10, Section 13, to include a screening tool for explosibility. This test is performed in the same vessel as the Kst test and can assist companies in determining whether a dust presents a hazard.
  • OSHA should question whether it is appropriate to use sampling techniques that include modification of the sample as received. Once a dust sample is prepared for testing, it can differ substantially from the dust as it existed originally in a facility setting.

8.2 Economic Impact - What kinds of costs and benefits do you foresee from a proposed rule? What regulatory approaches do you think would be most effective in minimizing costs while assuring the safety of employees?

  • In an economic impact assessment, a company will look at three potential benefits: loss of life and injury, risk management, and asset optimization. An economic impact assessment of combustible dust hazards at a coal-fired power plant costs approximately $25,000. The assessment identifies technologies that would address specific hazards.
  • The OSHA standard needs to clearly state why measures must be taken by a company (e.g., for safety reasons, for compliance reasons). Companies do not want the OSHA standard to require a hazard analysis for combustible dust situations that do not warrant a hazard analysis.
  • Prior to the adoption of PSM in 1991, general industry was wary of the economic impacts of the requirements specified by PSM. Once PSM was adopted, however, companies found that following the standard could lead to 20 to 25 percent savings in production costs. Similarly, industry should not be afraid of the possibility that the OSHA standard will require a process hazard analysis.
  • In the coal industry, there is disagreement over the best method for conducting a process hazard analysis. The people conducting the process hazard analysis often do not fully understand the bulk material handling process that goes on at a coal facility, reducing the effectiveness of the analysis.
  • OSHA could consider including a qualitative rather than quantitative process hazard analysis. A qualitative analysis would cost less but still can identify risk and assess the cost of mitigating the hazard.
  • If the properties of a dust are known (e.g., agricultural dusts, some coal dusts), a PSM process hazard analysis is too elaborate and cannot be justified. A qualified person should be able to perform a more simple analysis and identify and implement a risk-mitigating process or solution.
  • The OSHA standard should include a decision tree that allows industries with known risks (e.g., agricultural industries) to be exempt from process hazard analysis that would be required for other industries with more unpredictable hazards (e.g., chemical manufacturing industry).
  • For small businesses, a process hazard analysis may not be feasible due to excessive costs. A decision tree that includes a screening test for dusts would be the most economically reasonable regulation for small businesses.
  • When conducting hazard analyses, coal-fired power plants typically use teams of employees that observe daily operations and analyze facility hazards. Based on observed hazards, these teams determine which rules might apply, and the teams develop strategic plans to mitigate the hazards. The development of these strategies is recorded and presented to OSHA during inspections, which proves that efforts were made to reduce risk for employees.
  • The OSHA standard should include an exemption from PSM for facilities that use a small amount (e.g., less than 10,000 pounds) of flammables in their manufacturing processes.
  • OSHA should include a decision tree in the standard to make the standard more accessible for different industries. Industry-specific processes often require different venting systems or ductwork, and a flexible standard would be the best way for companies to determine whether their facilities are compliant.
  • OSHA should consider emulating the decision tree included in the standard for the transportation of hazardous goods. For example, the standard could allow low-energy dusts to reach a depth of inch or 1 inch, rather than following the 1/8-inch requirement.
  • Companies with limited resources will have difficulty accommodating regulations that involve moving dust collectors. Moving dust collectors is an expensive process requiring reworking ductwork and new permit applications. This process can take months, which is a long time for small companies to be offline.
  • Companies are concerned by the current enforcement over improper handling of dusts with Kst greater than zero. The OSHA standard needs to be developed quickly so that companies know what hazards should be targeted for mitigation.
  • OSHA should consider that for some facilities, moving dust collectors outside is not technically feasible. In these cases, sophisticated dust suppression systems are required; therefore, the OSHA standard needs to be performance oriented instead of requiring specific engineering controls.
  • Some smaller facilities have already spent more than $1 million to retroactively comply with NPFA 654.

8.3 Flame Retardant Clothing - Is the general hazard assessment provision in OSHA's PPE standard adequate for the hazards of combustible dust? If not, please describe an alternative regulatory approach that OSHA may take regarding flame-resistant clothing, such as basing its standard on the provisions in NFPA 2113?

  • Flame-retardant clothing is not comfortable, and in warm climates, it can lead to a heat index of greater than 100 degrees for the user. It is important for OSHA to understand the cons associated with wearing flame-retardant clothing in the workplace.
  • Flame-retardant clothing is necessary for workers in the immediate vicinity of process equipment.
  • NFPA 70E contains effective flame-retardant clothing requirements, which OSHA should consider including in the standard.
  • Flame-retardant clothing is absolutely necessary in the coal-fired power plant industry, even though OSHA has not yet specified it as mandatory. Employees donning flame-retardant clothing also need to be extremely vigilant that the clothing has been properly donned.
  • Corn refiners believe OSHA's PPE standard is an effective way to deal with the hazards of combustible dust.

8.4 Training Requirements - Should OSHA consider a provision based on a minimum number of training hours, a certification-based provision, a competency-based provision, or another approach? Please describe how your recommended approach could be implemented, for example, how could competency be measured?

  • OSHA should include a competency-based training approach in the standard. For example, employees could be directed to a website or shown a video that demonstrates dangers. Employees could then fill out a short questionnaire. Periodic refresher training should also be required. This system would not be cost-prohibitive.
  • OSHA should create an eTool for combustible dust hazards. The interactive eTools for confined space entry and lockout/tagout are easily understood and free.
  • OSHA should seek input from university and college professors when developing tools for training.
  • Effective training establishes a culture that fosters understanding of combustible dust hazards.
  • The OSHA standard should not define a set number of hours required for training. Outlining the main topics or key points for staying safe is far more critical. Some type of performance criteria or self-assessment would ensure the effectiveness of the training.
  • The training requirement should be competency-based. In this same vein, people who are already knowledgeable about hazards should not be required to attend training courses.
  • Grain-handling training has been successful. It does not require a specific number of hours or level of competency. However, grain-handling facilities often voluntarily document training time and competency and prefer this level of flexibility.
  • It is important for employers to certify that employees understand the content of training. Currently, OSHA is citing companies for poor or incomplete training whenever combustible dust incidents lead to fatalities.
  • Alliances and partnerships such as the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) have created leaders in occupational safety and health. The leaders in these fields could hold teleconferences to provide insights and serve as training resources.
  • Computer-based training is excellent.
  • OSHA should consider developing a combustible dust safety program, possibly named "Design for Dust," that is built upon the framework of EPA's Design for the Environment program. Design for Dust could help identify, develop, and recognize engineering solutions to combustible dust hazards.
  • Talking with engineering school accreditation groups and increasing their engineering students' focus on combustible dust hazards could foster a greater understanding of combustible dust hazard mitigation measures.
  • OSHA should try to promote good sources of design ideas for combustible dust engineering controls.
  • OSHA should consider holding a national competition for universities and colleges and offer awards for solutions they develop.
  • The American Institute of Chemical Engineers has a student chapter (SAIChE) for chemical process hazards. OSHA could look at the SAIChE program, which is publicly available.

9 Closing Remarks

OSHA representatives thanked the stakeholders for their participation. Ms. Dougherty emphasized that the stakeholder input will significantly help OSHA formulate the standard. Ms. Dougherty requested that any stakeholders interested in volunteering for site visits should contact OSHA. Alternatively, Ms. Dougherty mentioned that volunteers could remain anonymous to OSHA by dealing directly with OSHA's contractor.

* * * *