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Will OSHA issue safety rules on explosive dust in the workplace?

In Ohio, industrial jobs are often dangerous jobs. Industrial workers often need to work around heavy equipment and potentially volatile chemicals. This can directly lead to workplace accidents.

In the wake of several fatal explosions, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is asking that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issue new rules designed to prevent explosions involving combustible dust in the workplace.

The Chemical Safety Board, a federal agency that is charged with investigating chemical accidents, recently released a report on three fires at an iron powder plant in Tennessee. Those explosive fires killed five workers last year.

The safety board believes that new OSHA regulations are needed to control metal dust in the workplace, and it would like to see a national standard on potentially dangerous dust in the workplace by the end of 2012.

New safety rules may be on the way. OSHA, for its part, said that it is preparing is reviewing the recommendations and is proceeding with the rulemaking process. However, that process began in 2009, when OSHA initially announced that it would be considering new safety regulations to control combustible and potentially explosive dust in the workplace.

Will the Chemical Safety Board's recommendations be enough to motivate OSHA to implement its new rules this year? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, workers across the country will still be subjected to dangerous conditions similar to the workplace conditions that claimed the lives of five workers last year.

When a worker is injured on the job, whether a dangerous condition existed in the workplace or not, that worker has the right to seek workers' compensation benefits, including compensation for medical benefits, lost wages and disability benefits.

Source: The Tennessean, "U.S. Chemical Safety Board pushes tougher rules on combustible dust," Sarah Kingsbury and G. Chambers Williams II, Jan. 6, 2011

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