24 July 2013 23:30 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Federal overseers of workplace safety are finally drawing near to comprehensive rules designed to reduce the risk of explosive dust accidents, the head of the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said on Wednesday.
CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said that he is anticipating regulations drafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that are now pending review before the Small Business Administration (SBA).
“We have high expectations for the coming rules,” Moure-Eraso said, “although we have yet to see them.”
CSB has been pressing OSHA since 2003 to draft regulations to correct hazardous explosive dust environments at a wide variety of manufacturing facilities, including chemical and plastic resins producers and downstream users of those materials among many others.
The Chemical Safety Board has no rulemaking or regulatory authority.
The board was chartered by Congress to investigate serious chemical accidents - typically those that cause loss of life, great damage or significant environmental consequences - and convey lessons-learned analyses to industry.
“We are not a regulating authority, but we have a bully pulpit,” Moure-Eraso said, referring to CSB’s longstanding effort to get OSHA to act.
“OSHA has been moving on this,” he said, “but they have been moving very slowly.”
Federal data indicate that since 1980, more than 130 workers have been killed and some 780 injured in at least 400 reported dust explosions.
The developing dust standards and safety regulations could affect more than 60 industries, according to the Labor Department, of which OSHA is a part.
In addition to chemicals and plastics manufacturers, other affected industries include textiles production, wood products manufacturing, petroleum and coal products, machinery and computer production and some food preparation facilities.
The department said earlier that more than 425,000 production facilities are likely to be subject to the dust hazards regulations, but the total number of covered sites is expected to be much higher.
The types of dust prone to atmospheric ignition and explosion include wood, metals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber and plastics, paper, coal, sugar and cotton, among others, according to the department.
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