In the past few decades, there have been high-profile combustible dust incidents with substantial injuries and mortalities, leading OSHA to reissue the National Emphasis Program (NEP) in March 2008. The NEP aggressively inspects facilities and enforces existing regulations where frequent or catastrophic combustible dust events occur, employers must use a number of existing rules and consensus standards to mitigate combustible dust hazards. But because there is no formal rule, compliance is much lower than expected.
OSHA points to its General Duty Clause, 5a1, mandating employers provide a workplace where workers are protected against recognized hazards, as the means to achieve combustible dust compliance. For specifics, employers must pull from consensus standards, usually NFPA 652, to understand how to assess the dust hazard and determine if the dust is combustible. Using DHA (Dust Hazard Analysis), employers should use the results to mitigate the impending risks of dust by utilizing the hierarchy of controls.