OSHA Issues Revision of the Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program

In October 2007, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established the Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP). Combustible dust can cause fires, flash fires, deflagrations, and explosions. The NEP was established following several combustible dust incidents that resulted in fatalities and serious injuries. In March 2008, OSHA re-issued the NEP after a combustible dust explosion occurred at a sugar refinery.

On January 27, 2023, OSHA issued a revision to the Combustible Dust NEP based on the enforcement history and incident reports involving combustible dust. In 2018, 70 percent of combustible dust fires and explosions were from wood and food products. These numbers prompted OSHA to extend the NEP to wood- and food-related industries that generate or handle combustible dust (i.e., wood processing, lumber production, agriculture, and food production). Industries with these North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes are now included in the Combustible Dust NEP.

What is an NEP?
NEPs are temporary programs that focus OSHA’s resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries. OSHA uses inspection data, injury and illness data, and other sources to evaluate the need for new and existing emphasis programs. OSHA’s resources are used for proactive inspections of industries that fall under the NEP. Companies with an NAICS code covered by an NEP can expect OSHA to conduct a facility inspection to ensure compliance with the NEP focus. OSHA inspects approximately 600 facilities a year as part of the Combustible Dust NEP.

Which industries are impacted?
The revised Combustible Dust NEP now includes the following industries/NAICS codes:

  • 311812 – Commercial bakeries
  • 325910 – Printing ink manufacturers
  • 316110 – Leather and hide tanning and finishing
  • 321912 – Cut stock and resawing lumber, and planing
  • 321214 – Truss manufacturers
  • 424510 – Grain and field bean merchant wholesalers

The revised NEP directive replaces the March 2008 directive and will remain in effect until OSHA issues a cancellation notice. Although there may be some overlap with a similar OSHA directive for grain handling facilities, this revision does not replace that directive. It may simply include additional processes that are outside the scope of the grain handling directive.

EHS Support can help organizations prepare for inspections from OSHA and other compliance agencies. Our team of subject matter experts is ready to help audit every area of health and safety (including all current OSHA NEPs), provide measures to help ensure a safe working environment for your employees, and ensure compliance with established standards. Don’t get caught unprepared. Reach out to Monica Meyer to discuss this revised NEP and how it may affect your company.



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