February 2, 2023

OSHA Revises Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program

OSHA has announced that it is revising the agency’s national emphasis program (NEP) for combustible dust. The revised NEP adds six industries where combustible dust hazards are likely or where fatalities or catastrophes related to combustible dust have occurred. The NEP will now cover establishments that engage in commercial baking, the manufacturing of printing ink, the production of cut lumber or the resawing or planing of lumber, the tanning and finishing of leather and hides, the manufacturing of trusses, or the wholesale distribution of grains and field beans. These industries now appear in Appendix B of the NEP, which lists all industries—86 in total—that have heightened potential for combustible dust hazards.

The changes also include the removal of six industries that have low numbers of OSHA inspections or where less than half of inspections are related to combustible dust hazards. Establishments for which the NEP will no longer apply include those that operate fossil-fuel-powered electric power generation facilities or that manufacture cookies or crackers, pharmaceutical preparations, certain plastic casings, hardware that supports electrical systems, or window blinds and shades.

Other changes to the NEP include the removal of several appendices that are now part of the chapter on combustible dusts in the OSHA Technical Manual.

The combustible dust NEP was originally launched in 2007 following several combustible dust incidents that resulted in many deaths and serious injuries. In March 2008, one month after an explosion involving combustible dusts at the Imperial Sugar refinery near Savannah, Georgia, caused 14 deaths and 38 injuries, OSHA reissued the NEP to increase its enforcement activities in certain industries.

For more information, read the OSHA press release and the directive (PDF) for the revised NEP. More information on combustible dusts is available on the agency’s website.