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Keep up to date on the latest developments affecting OSHA, DOT, EPA, and DOL regulatory compliance.

Regulations change quickly. Compliance Network ensures you never miss a relevant update with a personalized feed of featured news and analysis, industry highlights, and more.


Are you as focused on combustible dusts as OSHA?

Are you as focused on combustible dusts as OSHA?

If you think you may have combustible dusts lurking in your facilities, you’ll want to know about recent updates to OSHA’s Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP). Have you been added to the list of higher-likelihood industries?

What are combustible dusts?

Employers are required to inspect their facilities for processes that generate or use combustible dusts and address associated fire, deflagration, and explosion hazards. So, what constitutes combustible dust? Combustible dusts are fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in air under certain conditions.

Protecting workers from combustible dusts

Many combustible dust incidents occur without the employer or workers realizing they are in danger. They were either unaware of the potential for dust explosions or failed to recognize the serious nature of dust explosion hazards.

Hazard assessments must be performed to identify all physical and health hazards associated with combustible dusts and ensure Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) list potential exposures and controls. Employers must anticipate types of operations, material use, or downstream material processing that can generate or potentially generate combustible dusts. Operations and uses include:

  • Abrasive blasting;
  • Cutting, grinding, polishing, or crushing of materials;
  • Conveying, mixing, sifting, or screening dry materials; and
  • Building up dried residue from processing wet materials.

How easily particles ignite, or cause explosions, is dependent upon the particle size, shape, moisture content or humidity, and available oxygen. These physical characteristics can change during manufacturing, use, or while the material is being processed. The regulation at 1910.272(j)(2)(ii) requires the removal of any fugitive grain dust accumulations whenever they exceed ⅛ inch (0.32 cm) at priority housekeeping areas or to demonstrate and assure, through the development and implementation of the housekeeping program, that equivalent protection is provided. The thickness of dust must be no more than the thickness of a dime. Essentially, if a footprint can be made in the dust, there’s too much.

What changed with the NEP?

OSHA replaced its March 2008 directive with a revised NEP on January 30, 2023. The NEP added several industries with a higher likelihood of having combustible dust hazards or that have experienced combustible dust-related fatalities/catastrophes. Industries added include:

  • 311812 – Commercial Bakeries
  • 325910 – Printing Ink Manufacturing
  • 321912 – Cut Stock, Resawing Lumber, and Planning
  • 316110 – Leather and Hide Tanning and Finishing
  • 321214 – Truss Manufacturing
  • 424510 – Grain and Field Bean Merchant Wholesalers

Keys to Remember

Too often, employers and workers were unaware of the potential for dust explosions or failed to recognize the serious nature of dust explosion hazards. OSHA has added some industries with a higher likelihood of having combustible dust hazards to the Combustible Dust NEP.

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PHMSA: Hazardous Materials: Streamlining Requirements for the Approval of Certain Energetic Materials

SUMMARY: PHMSA proposes to amend the Hazardous Materials Regulations to revise the classification and approval process for certain low-hazard fireworks; to revise classification criteria for small arms cartridges to include tracer ammunition; to include the PHMSA portal as the method to submit applications for all explosives approvals; and to allow for voluntary termination of an explosive approval by the approval holder.

DATES: This proposed rule is published in the Federal Register November 30, 2023, page 83514.

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Winter trips: Not the ideal travel destination

Winter trips: Not the ideal travel destination

Wintery weather has just begun, and everyone has the potential to slip, trip, or fall due to snow, ice, or other slippery surfaces.

To further complicate matters, professional drivers encounter working conditions outside of the carrier’s control, such as a poorly maintained facility at a shipper, receiver, or fuel or rest stop.

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Menopause – why a personal condition has become a workplace issue

Menopause – why a personal condition has become a workplace issue

International Women’s Day isn’t until March 8, 2024, but for employers that want to focus on supporting female employees while improving retention, perhaps it’s time to consider the effects of menopause at work and how they can be eased.

Menopause symptoms vary among women. While it’s a personal issue, it is one that can impact the workplace (e.g., increased absences). Employers are beginning to take notice, since the ripple effect can affect the bottom line.

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