REMINDER: Dust Hazard Analysis Required by September 7, 2020

Posted By: Alexis Sivcovich SLMA News,

From SLMA's OSHA Counsel at Kilpatrick Townsend: 

REMINDER: Dust Hazard Analysis Required by September 7, 2020

OSHA has been in the process of developing a comprehensive general industry standard to address combustible dust hazards since 2009. In 2017, the proposed standard was removed from the federal regulatory agenda. While a dedicated combustible dust standard is no longer a priority for OSHA at this time, the agency retains authority to cite employers for combustible dust hazards under the "general duty" to provide a workplace "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm," and housekeeping obligations set out in other OSHA standards, such as the recent Final Rule on walking-working surfaces and fall protection systems. Employers should also look to guidance from industry consensus standards, such as the 2017 edition of the NFPA Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities ("NFPA 664") and the 2019 edition of the NFPA General Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust ("NFPA 652"). 

Under NFPA 652, all facilities with combustible dust hazards must have a Dust Hazard Analysis ("DHA") completed by a professional safety consultant by September 7, 2020. The DHA must be led by a qualified person in-house or a third-party safety consultant. While the qualified person leading the DHA is not required to have specific safety certifications, the qualified person must be familiar with the hazards of combustible dust. A DHA is typically conducted by a team whose collective background and expertise may include: (1) familiarity with the process; (2) operations and maitenance; (3) process equipment; (4) safety systems; (5) the history of the operation; and (7) emergency procedures. For some processes, a team of two may suffice, while more complex processes may require a larger team. The individuals involved with the DHA can include facility operators, engineers, owners, equipment manufacturers, and/or consultants. 

Companies considering material modifications or system upgrades between now and September 2020 should confirm that they meet the specifications in NFPA 652 and 664. A DHA is a systematic review to identify and evaluate potential fire, flash fire, or explosion hazards associated with the presence of combustible dust in a process or facility and provide recommendations to manage the hazards (similar to OSHA's Process Hazard Analysis for hazardous chemicals). Once a hazard analysis is completed, OSHA generally expects facilities to implement the recommendations as soon as possible, but in any event, no later than one to two years after the hazard analysis is completed. Thus, at the conclusion of the DHA, if systems or equipment are found non-compliant with NFPA specifications, they must be upgraded. The DHA must be reviewed and updated every five years.