WTOC in Savannah, GA is reporting that Georgia’s Senators, RepublicansÂ Johnny IsaksonÂ andÂ Saxby Chambliss, are calling on OSHA to issue a regulationÂ toÂ protect workers from the dangers related to combustible dust.Â WTOC says that the Senators were brief today by officials of theÂ Chemical Safety Board on the causes of the Feb. 7, 2008, explosion at the Imperial SugarÂ refineryÂ that killedÂ 14 people and left others with serious burns andÂ injuries.
Senator Isakson said:
“I believe we should embrace the findings of the Chemical Safety Board, including the recommendation that OSHA establish mandatory standards modeled after the National Fire Protection Association guidelines.Â Sen. Chambliss and I are working closely with Secretary Solis to ensure that the lessons we have learned as a result of the Port Wentworth disaster will help us prevent future tragedies.”
Senator Chambliss added:
“As public servants, it is our responsibility to do everything we can from a federal standpoint to ensure this type of tragedy never occurs again.”
After reading this news account,Â I calledÂ Tammy Miser, whose brother Shawn died in 2005 from an aluminum dust explosion, to hear her reaction.Â Tammy’s been fighting for years to have OSHA issue a standard to address combustible dust hazards.
“I’m really excited to hear of the Georgia Senators’ support for an OSHA rule.Â Â A lot ofÂ families have been waitingÂ a long time for this.Â Â It goes to show that they haven’t forgotten us.Â It’s also nice toÂ see that this is not a partisan issue—-it is matter of doing the right thing and preventing these dust-related explosionsÂ from ever happening again.”
I’ve heard and seen for myself Senator Isakson’s compassion for victims of workplace fatalities.Â (He keeps a photo of Junior Hamner, one of theÂ deceasedÂ West Virginia Sago miners, on his nightstand.)Â Â If he teams up with Tammy Miser to get this combustible dust rule in place, get out of their way!Â They’ll make sure OSHA gets it done.
In the Dept of Labor’s most recent regulatory agendaÂ (May 2009), OSHA didn’t promise aÂ proposed rule on combustible dust this year or next.Â It indicated it would issue a pre-rulemaking notice in August, withÂ stakeholder meetings (necessary???) planned in December.Â Â Â When DOL’s latest version of its regulatory agenda comes out next month, we’ll see if OSHAÂ has a more ambitious timeline toÂ get these much-needed explosion-prevention rules in place.Â Â