Nearly half the nation is unprotected concerning having the proper knowledge concerning the hazards of combustible particulate solids and the resulting combustible dusts. For instance, OSHA instituted a Combustible Dust National Emphasis (NEP) Program in October 2007, which provides health and safety inspectors with the background information needed in conducting facility inspections and informing industry of combustible dust hazards in 28 states. This is all fine and dandy.
Yet in the other 22 states with approved State OSHA programs, federal inspectors are not involved only state inspectors work in this area. Additionally, State plan participation in this national emphasis effort is strongly encouraged but is not required. Strongly encouraged means voluntary, which is the heart of the problem.
For example, North and South Carolina, and Kentucky have no local emphasis program for combustible dusts. Since the Dixie Crystal sugar Refinery explosion there has been two combustible dust related incidents in these states at rubber and textile facilities.
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Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee are in the process of adopting local emphasis programs for combustible dust hazards. Hopefully other states that have their own OSHA program will follow suit. For others that are under the federal National Emphasis Program, it will take additional congressional appropriations so that OSHA can hire additional inspectors to insure the nation's industrial infrastructure is secure.