DC Circuit Rejects Challenge to the Revised OSHA Hazardous Communication Standard


On October 24, 2014, the D.C. Circuit rejected a challenge to the revised OSHA Hazardous Communication Standard insofar as it applies to “combustible dust”. The case is National Oilseed Processors Association, et al., v. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, et al. The Standard was substantially revised in 2012 to conform with the Globally Harmonized System, a uniform international chemical labeling system. The Hazard Communication, 77 Fed. Reg. 17,574 (Mar. 26, 2012) (“Final Rule“) designated “combustible dust” as a hazardous chemical subject to the Standard, although OSHA has yet to develop a workplace standard addressing the hazards of combustible dust in the workplace. This decision may be of interest to all manufacturers and employers subject to the Hazard Communication Standard; it places in context the development of the rule over the past 30 years, and demonstrates again how difficult it is to have such rules overturned.

The National Oilseed Processors Association includes in its membership the owners and operators of grain handling businesses who have a keen interest in this new standard. The Association argued, and the court rejected, contentions that it was not provided adequate notice of the inclusion of combustible dust in the rule, that OSHA’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence as the statute requires, and that their constitutional Due Process rights were violated in that the agency, by failing to define “combustible dust”, did not provide fair warning of the agency’s enforcement measures.

Additional Sources: OSHA Fact Sheet Hazard Communication Standard Final Rule