On Feb. 14, Rep. Miller (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation to force the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to hasten its rulemaking on combustible dust. The legislation's reintroduction corresponds with the fifth anniversary of the 2008 explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., which killed 14 workers and injured dozens.
Similar to earlier versions, the Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act (H.R. 691) would require OSHA to issue an interim final standard within one year, followed by a proposed rule within another 18 months. OSHA would then be required to issue a final rule within three years of the proposed rule. OSHA put the combustible dust rule on its active list of goals on its Fall 2012 regulatory agenda, elevating it in importance from its list of “long-term actions” for rulemaking and targeted an October date for a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review, which can last up to 120 days. The agency has no target date for either a proposed or final rule.
Legislator support appears to have declined. In 2008, 22 House Republicans joined 225 Democrats to pass an earlier version of Miller's bill pushing OSHA on combustible dust. The legislation then stalled in the Senate. The number of co-sponsors dropped from 32 to two after the bill was reintroduced in 2009. It did not receive a floor vote. The 2011 version attracted two co-sponsors and did not get a vote. Two co-sponsors have thus far signed onto the current iteration.