2:13 PM EDT
Jim McGovern, D-MA 3rd

Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 1157 provides for the consideration of H.R. 5522, the Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Prevention Act of 2008, under a structured rule. The rule provides 1 hour of general debate controlled by the Committee on Education and Labor, and makes in order the committee-reported substitute. It also makes in order two amendments printed in the Rules report, with a manager's amendment debatable for 10 minutes and the Wilson substitute debatable for 30 minutes.

Finally, the rule provides one motion to recommit, with or without instructions.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this rule and the underlying legislation, H.R. 5522, the Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Act of 2008. It directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue rules regulating combustible industrial dust that can build up to hazardous levels and explode.

Combustible dust has caused deaths and injuries to workers in our Nation, deaths and injuries that could have been prevented. Most recently, everyone can recall the enormous explosion in February at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Savannah, Georgia, which claimed the lives of 13 workers and injured over 60. Many of these workers remain hospitalized today, receiving care for the severe burns they received on that awful day.

While OSHA has marginally improved dust inspection procedures, this legislation goes further to bring combustible dust emissions under control by establishing stronger standards. Included are engineering controls, hazardous inspection, security assessments, housekeeping and explosion protection standards.

[Time: 14:15]

Specifically, the Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Act requires OSHA to issue an interim final standard to control the risk of combustible dust explosions. The standard would contain provisions for housekeeping, engineering controls, and worker training.

Mr. Speaker, in 2003, there was a series of similar explosions at various factories due to combustible dust. The U.S. government undertook a study carried out by the Chemical Safety Board to determine the causes and make recommendations to OSHA. That report came out 2 years ago in 2006. OSHA has yet to issue standards to control the risks to workers and companies on the hazards of combustible dust.

For this reason, the bill requires an interim standard to be issued. OSHA would then be required to issue a final standard within 18 months through its regular procedures. OSHA would be required to ``include relevant and appropriate provisions of National Fire Protection Association combustible dust standards.''

H.R. 5522 would also direct OSHA to explicitly list combustible dusts as a ``physical hazard'' in the Hazard Communication Standard, which requires employers to train workers about the chemical hazards that they are exposed to.

Mr. Speaker, every worker in this country deserves a safe and healthy work environment. The AFL-CIO, the UAW, the International Association of Firefighters, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the SEIU, the Teamsters, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union all strongly support this important legislation.

By establishing stronger protections and safer standards, this legislation better ensures thousands of workers in refineries, mills, and plants from risk of death or injury.

I urge my colleagues to support the rule, and I support the underlying legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.