Friday, December 20, 2013

Chemical facility safety

OSHA seeks public comment on agency standards to improve chemical facility safety


Chemical facility
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a request for information seeking public comment on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management standard and related standards, as well as other policy options to prevent major chemical incidents.
The RFI is in response to executive order 13650, which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security, issued in the wake of the April 2013 West, Texas, tragedy that killed 15 in an ammonium nitrate explosion.
As stated in the Federal Register notice, the public will have until March 10, 2014 to submit written comments. Interested parties may submit comments at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile.

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Release Number: 13-2322-NAT
Date: Dec. 3, 2013
Contact: Adriano Llosa
Phone: 202-693-4686
Email: llosa.adriano.t@dol.gov

US Labor Department seeks public comment
on agency standards to improve chemical safety

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a request for information seeking public comment on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management standard and related standards, as well as other policy options to prevent major chemical incidents.

The RFI is in response to executive order 13650, which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security, issued in the wake of the April 2013 West, Texas, tragedy that killed 15 in an ammonium nitrate explosion. 

In addition to comments on its Process Safety Management standard, OSHA seeks input on potential updates to its Explosives and Blasting Agents, Flammable Liquids and Spray Finishing standards, as well as potential changes to PSM enforcement policies. The agency also asks for information and data on specific rulemaking and policy options, and the workplace hazards they address. OSHA will use the information received in response to this RFI to determine what actions, if any, it may take.

After publication of the RFI in the Federal Register, the public will have 90 days to submit written comments. Once the RFI is published in the Federal Register, interested parties may submit comments at www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Public meeting for proposed rule of tracking injuries/illnesses

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Nov. 14, 2013
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA schedules public meeting on proposed rule to improve
tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a public meeting to allow interested parties to comment on the proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. OSHA's proposed rule amends its current recordkeeping regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information employers are already required to keep under existing standards, Part 1904.

The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. Requests to attend or speak at the meeting may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail or facsimile. The deadline to request to attend the meeting as a speaker or observer is Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. See the Federal Register notice for more details.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Improve Tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses

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OSHA News Release: 13-2144-NAT
Nov. 7, 2013
Contact: Jesse Lawder     Adriano Llosa
Phone: 202-693-4659     202-693-4686
Email: lawder.jesse@dol.gov     llosa.adriano.t@dol.gov

OSHA announces proposed new rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses

Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses RulemakingWASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a proposed rule to improve workplace safety and health through improved tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. The announcement follows the Bureau of Labor Statistics' release of its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimates that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.

"Three million injuries are three million too many," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "With the changes being proposed in this rule, employers, employees, the government and researchers will have better access to data that will encourage earlier abatement of hazards and result in improved programs to reduce workplace hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The proposal does not add any new requirement to keep records; it only modifies an employer's obligation to transmit these records to OSHA."

The public will have 90 days, through Feb. 6, 2014, to submit written comments on the proposed rule. On Jan. 9, 2014, OSHA will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C. A Federal Register notice announcing the public meeting will be published shortly.

The proposed rule was developed following a series of stakeholder meetings in 2010 to help OSHA gather information about electronic submission of establishment-specific injury and illness data. OSHA is proposing to amend its current recordkeeping regulations to add requirements for the electronic submission of injury and illness information employers are already required to keep under existing standards, Part 1904. The first proposed new requirement is for establishments with more than 250 employees (and who are already required to keep records) to electronically submit the records on a quarterly basis to OSHA.

OSHA is also proposing that establishments with 20 or more employees, in certain industries with high injury and illness rates, be required to submit electronically only their summary of work-related injuries and illnesses to OSHA once a year. Currently, many such firms report this information to OSHA under OSHA's Data Initiative.

OSHA plans to eventually post the data online, as encouraged by President Obama's Open Government Initiative. Timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data will help OSHA target its compliance assistance and enforcement resources more effectively by identifying workplaces where workers are at greater risk, and enable employers to compare their injury rates with others in the same industry.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Job Hazard Analysis

What is a hazard?

A hazard is the potential for harm. In practical terms, a hazard often is associated with a condition or activity that, if left uncontrolled, can result in an injury or illness. See Appendix 2 for a list of common hazards and descriptions. Identifying hazards and eliminating or controlling them as early as possible will help prevent injuries and illnesses.

What is a job hazard analysis?

A job hazard analysis is a technique that focuses on job tasks as a way to identify hazards before they occur.
It focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment. Ideally, after you identify uncontrolled hazards, you will take steps to eliminate or reduce them to an acceptable risk level.

Why is job hazard analysis important?

Many workers are injured and killed at the workplace every day in the United States. Safety and health can add value to your business, your job, and your life. You can help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses by looking at your workplace operations, establishing proper job procedures, and ensuring that all employees are trained properly. One of the best ways to determine and establish proper work procedures is to conduct a job hazard analysis. A job hazard analysis is one component of the larger commitment of a safety and health management system. (See page 15 for more information on safety and health management systems.)

What is the value of a job hazard analysis?

Supervisors can use the findings of a job hazard analysis to eliminate and prevent hazards in their workplaces. This is likely to result in fewer worker injuries and illnesses; safer, more effective work methods; reduced workers’ compensation costs; and increased worker productivity. The analysis also can be a valuable tool for training new employees in the steps required to perform their jobs safely. For a job hazard analysis to be effective, management must demonstrate its commitment to safety and health and follow through to correct any uncontrolled hazards identified. Otherwise, management will lose credibility and  employees may hesitate to go to management when dangerous conditions threaten them.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sloping & Benching systems for excavations

May 2, 2013

Dear Mr. C***:

Thank you for your August 23, 2012 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We apologize for the delay in our reply. 

As you know, the State of California administers its own safety and health program under a plan approved and monitored by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As part of that program, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA), as part of the California Department of Labor, is responsible for the enforcement and interpretation of occupational safety and health regulations in that State. You may reach Cal/OSHA at:

Division of Occupational Safety and Health
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1901
Oakland, California 94612
Phone: (510) 286-7000
Fax: (510) 286-7037
http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/stateprogs/california.html

Federal OSHA regulations governing sloping and benching systems for excavations

Your August 23, 2012 letter and subsequent discussions with Directorate of Construction (DOC) staff raise two specific questions regarding OSHA's excavation standard. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of only the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated in your original correspondence. 

We have paraphrased your questions as follows:
Question 1: If the employer elects Option (4) of 29 CFR 1926.652(b) to provide the protective system for his excavation, and he retains a registered professional engineer (RPE) to design the slope and bench configurations, is the RPE design bound by the requirements and provisions of Appendix B to Subpart P of Part 1926 -- Sloping and Benching?

Response 1: No. 29 CFR 1926.652(b)(4) Option (4) - Design by a registered professional engineer, provides that:
  1. Sloping and benching systems not utilizing Option (1) or Option (2) or Option (3) under paragraph (b) of this section shall be approved by a registered profession engineer.
  2. Designs shall be in written form and shall include at least the following:
    1. The magnitude of the slopes that were determined to be safe for the particular project;
    2. The configurations that were determined to be safe for the particular project; and. . .
In addition, the preamble to the final rule of 29 CFR 1926.652(b)(4) Option (4) (54 FR 45929; October 31, 1989) further explains that:
Under this option . . . It provides no specific restrictions as to maximum allowed slopes or configurations that a registered professional engineer might design or approve . . . slopes steeper than those allowed under the other options could be used. Configurations different from those allowed under the other options could also be used.
 
Question 2: The employer's RPE specified the soil as Type A and designed a sloping and benching configuration for an excavation 14 feet deep. It consists of 3 feet unsupported vertical sides at the lower portions of the excavation and 11 feet sloped cuts with ¾ horizontal to 1 vertical at the upper portion of the excavation. In addition, in your September 14, 2012 discussions with DOC staff, you indicated that the excavation for the particular project is intended to station (house) the pile driving equipment. Is this configuration in compliance with the excavation standard?

Response 2: OSHA is precluded from approving or endorsing specific products, services, or analyses. The variable working conditions at job sites and possible alteration or misapplication of an otherwise safe piece of equipment, service, or system, could easily create a hazardous condition. However, where appropriate, we try to give some guidance to help employers assess whether products, services, or analyses are appropriate to use in light of OSHA requirements. 

The employer's RPE must consider site and environmental conditions, specifically taking into account the stresses that vibrations cause. It is not clear that this RPE configuration takes the vibrations into account, as it specifies "Type A" soil. "Type A" is defined in Appendix A to Subpart P of Part 1926 - Soil Classification, Section (b) Definitions:
Type A means cohesive soils with an unconfined compressive strength of 1.5 ton per square foot (tsf) (144 kPa) or greater. . . . However, no soil is Type A if:
  1. The soil is fissured; or
  2. The soil is subject to vibration from heavy traffic, pile driving, or similar effects; or . . .
Thus, even if a soil has an unconfined compressive strength of 1.5 tsf or greater as Type A, but if this soil is subject to vibration, such as pile driving activities, the soil cannot be considered as Type A. Therefore, this RPE configuration may not be appropriate for the intended use of the excavation, and may need to be modified.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ammonium Nitrate (AN): Safe Storage, Handling, & Management Part 4

Emergency Response

Owner/operators of storage facilities should develop a site emergency response plan which includes:

• Coordination with local first responders
• Joint training with first responders if possible
• Employee training
• Community outreach
• Analysis of what may be at risk in a serious accident and appropriate planning
• Signs that clearly mark high hazard areas, safe areas, emergency contact numbers, firefighting equipment, and other essential area during an emergency response
• A site and area evacuation plan

Owners and operators of facilities holding AN have an obligation to ensure their community’s first responders are aware of the hazards associated with the AN. Reliance on a report may not always be sufficient. Owners and operators should take a pro-active approach to reaching out to the emergency response officials in their location and ensuring that the hazards of AN are understood by the responders.

What do firefighters need to know when responding to an accident or fire involving AN?

Before responding to a fire involving AN, firefighters should ensure the community emergency response plan includes:

• AN hazard information and emergency response guidelines
• Quantity, storage types, and locations of AN at facilities in their community
• Specific response procedures; including a decision process to determine under which conditions a fire should be fought or whether the fire should be allowed to burn
• Evacuation procedures for the community
• Training requirements for all response personnel
• A schedule for exercising the response plan related to AN accidents

When responding to a fire where AN is stored; firefighters should:

• First consider if they can safely fight the fire or whether they should just let it burn, move to a safe location, and focus on evacuating nearby residents and preventing further safety issues for the surrounding community.

To determine whether or not it makes sense to fight the fire or to let it burn, firefighters and emergency responders should consider the following information:

• Firefighters should not fight an AN fire and everyone, including fire fighters, should be evacuated to a safe distance if they observe any of the following:
o A fire involving AN is judged to be out of control;
o The fire is engulfing the AN; or
o Brown/orange smoke is detected, indicating the presence of nitrogen dioxide (which is toxic); or
o A rapid increase in the amount/intensity of smoke or fire in the area of AN storage.

• If firefighters consider it safe and appropriate to respond to a fire involving AN, then the following information should be considered:
o AN fires should be fought from protected locations or maximum possible distance. Approach a fire involving or close to AN from upwind to avoid hazardous vapors and toxic decomposition products. Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) of types approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should be used to protect personnel against gases.
o Use flooding quantities of water from a distance as promptly as possible. It is important that the mass of AN be kept cool and the burning be quickly extinguished. Keep adjacent fertilizers cool by spraying with large amounts of water. When possible and appropriate, only use unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles.
o Do NOT use steam, CO2, dry powder or foam extinguishers, sand or other smothering agents.
o Ensure maximum ventilation of the AN storage container as quickly as practical to prevent heat and pressure buildup. This is different than ensuring maximum ventilation of the entire building or structure where the AN is stored. Ventilation of the structure should be conducted only in a manner to limit fire spread and growth and should be minimized until a suppression water supply is established.
o If practicable and safe to do so, attempt to prevent AN from entering the drains where explosive confinement could occur. Remember AN may be washed into drains by fire water, but it can also melt and flow without impetus from water.
o Prevent or minimize contamination of water bodies or streams to reduce the potential for environmental effects.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ammonium Nitrate (AN): Safe Storage, Handling, & Management Part 3

Community Emergency Planning

What should communities do to understand and develop a plan for the risk associated with AN?

AN is a hazardous chemical covered under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. Therefore, facilities that handle and store AN are required by law to submit information regarding chemical hazards (including AN) to their State or Tribal Emergency Response Commission (SERC or TERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and local fire department. This information must include the following:

1) a Safety Data Sheets (SDS) providing the chemical’s hazard information and emergency response guidelines and
2) a Hazardous Chemical Inventory form that provides the quantity, storage types and locations of the AN at their facility.

We recommend that fire services visit any facility reporting AN, and that the conditions of storage and manner of handling be reviewed by fire service personnel. Fire service and other emergency responders should take note of the specific location(s), amounts and packaging of stored AN. Conditions of storage should be reviewed with the facility operator in light of the information provided in this document.

The LEPC in conjunction with the fire department should use this information to develop an emergency plan, in case of a fire or explosion involving AN or any other hazardous substance. The facility should consult with the LEPC to provide them the necessary information to develop the emergency plan, the elements of which should include:

• Identification of facilities and transportation routes of hazardous substances
• Description of emergency response procedures, on and off site
• Designation of a community coordinator and facility emergency coordinator(s) to implement the plan
Outline of emergency notification procedures
• Description of how to determine the probable area and population affected by releases
• Description of local emergency equipment and facilities and the persons responsible for them
• Outline of evacuation plans
• A training program for emergency responders (including schedules)
• Methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans

LEPCs should also ensure that members of the community (which would include potentially affected populations) are aware of the emergency plan and the actions they need to take if an accident occurs.

Local fire departments should use the information to determine what precautions they may need to take in responding to an accident at the facility and ensure the first responders have the appropriate training to respond to incidents involving AN.

Owners and operators of facilities holding AN are required to report the AN hazard to local response officials under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Unfortunately, that obligation is not universally understood, and so some facilities may fail to report. Fertilizer-grade AN is typically found at those businesses that provide direct logistical support to agriculture. This may include crop service operations, farm co-ops, grange stores and similar operations.

In the interest of community safety, it is often necessary and appropriate for first response officials to reach out to facility owners and operators, and determine if unreported risks are present in their community. Helping a neighbor, facility operator, or employer to understand and meet his obligations to the community and to workers is in everyone’s best interest

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ammonium Nitrate (AN): Safe Storage, Handling, & Management Part 2

HAZARD REDUCTION
What steps should facility owners or operators take to reduce the hazards of AN during storage and handling?
Storage/Process Conditions to Avoid
Persons engaged in the handling, management or emergency planning for AN must be aware of the hazards of AN and ensure that the conditions that may lead to an explosion are not present. Measures that facilities should take to ensure the safe storage, use and handling of AN include:
  • Avoid heating AN in a confined space.
    • Processes involving AN should be designed to avoid this possibility.
    • Avoid localized heating of AN, potentially leading to development of high temperature areas (e.g., AN fertilizer should not be stored near sources of heat such as steam pipes, radiators, hot ducts, light bulbs etc.).
  • Ensure that AN is not exposed to strong shock waves from explosives. AN storage near high explosives or blasting agents must conform to ATF's Table of Separation Distances, Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 555.220 (22 CFR 555.220).
  • Avoid contamination of AN with combustible materials or organic substances such as packing materials, dust, seed, oils, and waxes.
    • If possible, do not co-locate AN, especially bulk AN in bins, with dust-producing organics such as grains or seeds.
  • Avoid contamination of AN with inorganic materials that may contribute to its sensitivity to explosion, including chlorides and some metals, such as aluminum powder, chromium, copper, cobalt, and nickel.
    • Pay attention to the materials used to build storage areas and cribs. Wood and aluminum or other metals must be specially treated to prevent impregnation if they are going to be in contact with AN. Metal materials can be treated with epoxy tar or chlorinated rubbers to prevent corrosion of the metal and contamination of the AN.
  • Maintain the pH of AN solutions within the safe operating range of the process. In particular, avoid low pH (acidic) conditions.
    • If possible, do not co-locate acids in an AN storage area.
  • Keep molten or solid AN out of confined spaces, especially sewers or drains where it can react with organic materials there.
Certain specific safety and handling instructions (required and recommended) apply for safe handling and storage of AN6 under certain conditions:

OSHA's standard for Explosives and Blasting Agents at 29 CFR 1910.109(i) contains requirements for AN stored in the form of crystals, flakes, grains or prills including fertilizer grade, dynamite grade, nitrous oxide grade, technical grade, and other mixtures containing 60 percent or more of AN by weight. AN should also be handled in accordance with safe practices found in NFPA 400 Hazardous Materials Code, Chapter 11.
Building Design
  • Store only in one-story buildings and buildings with no basements, unless the basement is open on one side.
  • Use fire resistant walls within 50 feet of combustible building or materials.
  • Flooring in storage and handling areas should be constructed of noncombustible material or protected from impregnation by AN.
  • Avoid installing, or remove or close off any open drains, traps, tunnels, pits or pockets into which molten AN can flow and be confined in the event of fire.
  • Buildings should be kept dry and free of water seepage through roofs, walls and floors.
  • Have adequate ventilation or be constructed to self-ventilate in the event of a fire to avoid pressurization.
  • Do not place AN into storage when the temperature of the product exceeds 130°F (54.4°C).
Storage in bags, drums or other containers
  • Piles of bags, drums and other containers should be no closer than 36 inches below the roof or supporting beams.
  • Bags should be stored no less than 30 inches from walls or partitions.
  • Piles of bags, drums, and other containers should not exceed a height of 20 feet, width of 20 feet, and length of 50 feet, unless the building is of noncombustible construction or protected by automatic sprinklers.
  • Maintain aisles of at least 3 feet width between piles.
Storage in bulk
Bins for storing bulk AN should be kept clean and free of materials, which could contaminate the material. Bins should not be constructed of galvanized iron, copper, lead or zinc unless suitably protected. Aluminum or wooden bins should be protected against impregnation by AN.

  • Piles or bins must be adequately sized, arranged and moved periodically to minimize caking. Height or depth of piles shall be limited by pressure-setting tendency of the product, but in no case should pile be higher than 36 inches below roof or supporting beams.
  • Do NOT use dynamite, explosives or blasting agents to break up or loosen caked AN.
  • Protect piles of AN from absorbing moisture from humid air by covering them with water-impermeable sheeting or using air conditioning.
  • Do not store AN with organic chemicals, acids, or other corrosive materials, materials that may require blasting during processing or handling, compressed flammable gases, flammable and combustible materials or other contaminating substances. AN stores should be separated from incompatible substances by using separate buildings or 1 – hour fire resistant walls, or a minimum separation distance of 30 feet.
Fire Protection
  • AN storage areas should be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system, or have an automatic fire detection and alarm system if the areas are not continuously occupied. This is especially important when the facility in question is close to the public surrounding the facility.
  • Facilities should NOT store more than 2500 tons of bagged AN without an automatic sprinkler system.
  • An automatic sprinkler system, if installed, should be provided in accordance with NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.
  • Suitable fire control devices such as hoses and appropriate portable fire extinguishers (AN is an oxidizer and not all fire extinguishers are appropriate) shall be provided throughout the warehouse and loading areas. Water supplies and fire hydrants should be available.
  • Store AN fertilizer in separate buildings or separated by approved fire walls from organic, combustible or reactive materials, such as grains, wood or other organic materials, urea and urea compounds, flammable liquids or gases, corrosive acids, chlorates, chromates nitrites, permanganates or finely divided metals or sulfur.


  • AN fertilizer should NOT be stored in the same building with explosives or blasting agents unless conditions in ATF's Table of Separation Distances of Ammonium Nitrate and Blasting Agents from Explosives and Blasting Agents, 27 CFR 555.220, are met.
  • Prohibit smoking in AN storage areas.

  • We recommend that AN be stored in purpose-built facilities/buildings of non-combustible construction. Dust-producing organic materials, such as grain, seeds and sugar, should not be stored near AN. Some metal powders such as aluminum powder are equally dangerous. AN should be stored so as to ensure it is not contaminated by gasoline, diesel or other fuels, and is not subject to high heat (even in one small area of a large stockpile) or water infiltration.

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Ammonium Nitrate (AN): Safe Storage, Handling, & Management

    Information On Hazards

    Hazard Classification

    For the purpose of transportation, AN that contains less than 0.2 percent combustible substances and AN fertilizers are classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), as oxidizers. AN with more than 0.2 percent combustible substances is classified by DOT as an explosive.5 (see box below).

    The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) assigns an instability rating of 3 (in a range of 0-4) to AN, meaning AN is capable of detonation, explosive decomposition, or explosive reaction, but that a strong initiating source or confinement in extreme temperatures is required. AN can explode under certain conditions by adding energy (heat, shock), especially when contaminants are present or it is under confinement.

    “Pure” ammonium nitrate is stable and will explode only under extraordinary circumstances. However, the addition of combustible materials such as sugar, grain dust, seed husks or other organic contaminants, even in fairly low percentages, creates a dangerous combination and the ammonium nitrate mixture becomes far more susceptible to detonation. This characteristic of ammonium nitrate underlies most of the advice and recommendations for safe handling contained herein.

    Decomposition Chemistry

    AN melts at 337° F (170° C) and begins to undergo decomposition when molten. Hazardous scenarios with AN can involve simple thermal decomposition initiated by external fire or other heating, self-sustained decomposition also known as “cigar burning,” and detonation.

    Decomposition creates toxic gases containing ammonia and nitrogen oxides. The resulting nitrogen oxides will support combustion, even in the absence of other oxygen. The resulting heat and pressure from the decomposition of AN may build up if the reaction takes place in a confined space and the heat and gases created are not able to dissipate. As the temperature rises, the rate of decomposition increases. In a confined space, the pressure can reach dangerous levels and cause an explosion that will include the detonation of the AN.

    When dealing with a large quantity of AN, localized areas of high temperature may be sufficiently confined by the mass of material to initiate an explosion. The explosion of a small quantity of AN in a confined space (e.g., a pipe) may act as a booster charge and initiate the explosion of larger quantities (e.g., in an associated vessel).

    During a fire in a facility where AN is present, the AN can become hot and molten which makes the material very sensitive to shock and detonation, particularly if it becomes contaminated with incompatible material such as combustibles, flammable liquids, acids, chlorates, chlorides, sulfur, metals, charcoal, sawdust, etc. If a molten mass becomes confined (e.g., in drains, pipes or machinery), it can explode.

    Most types of AN do not continue to decompose once a fire has been extinguished. However, some types of AN fertilizers containing a small percentage of chlorides (e.g., potassium chloride) undergo a smoldering (self-sustaining) decomposition that can spread throughout the mass to produce substantial toxic fumes, even when the initial heat source is removed. These fertilizers that can self-sustain decomposition, known as “cigar burners” are normally compound fertilizers that contain between 5% to 25% nitrogen from ammonium nitrate, up to 20% phosphate (as P2O5) and chloride (which may only be present as a small percentage).

    Contaminants

    AN mixed with oil or other sensitizing contaminants may explode or detonate when exposed to fire or shock. Organic materials (e.g., packing materials, seed, etc.) will increase the likelihood of an explosion and will make the AN explosion more energetic.

    AN may also be sensitized by certain inorganic contaminants, including chlorides and some metals, such as aluminum powder, chromium, copper, cobalt, and nickel.

    As AN solution becomes more acidic, its stability decreases, and it may be more likely to explode.
    Solid AN readily absorbs moisture, which can lead to caking, self-compression and self confinement. This in turn increases susceptibility to explosion in a fire.

    The density, particle size and concentration of solid AN in a material, as well as the presence of other additives, affects the hazard of the material. The technical grade of AN is a lower density (higher porosity) prilled material. Higher density prills are used as fertilizer. AN can be fused with ammonium sulfate fertilizer or amended with carbonate materials to reduce its explosive properties. More information on additives is discussed in Guidance for the Storage, Handling and Transportation of Solid Mineral Fertilizers found in the Reference section. Solid fertilizers are usually coated with an inorganic, non-combustible anti-caking compound to prevent sticking and clumping. AN in undiluted or pure form has a higher degree of overall hazard than when it is mixed or blended with compatible or non-combustible materials that can reduce the concentration. In general for fertilizer blends containing AN, the more nitrogen they contain, the greater the explosion hazard they pose. Blended fertilizers containing AN and chloride compounds and blended fertilizers containing AN contaminated with combustible materials or incompatible substances pose increased explosion hazards. A large number of blended fertilizers are produced from basic primary fertilizer products (e.g., ammonium nitrate, urea, and mono-ammonium phosphate) and natural materials (e.g., rock phosphate, potassium chloride) which can introduce contaminants. All such materials are not necessarily compatible with each other and some may produce undesirable effects when mixed with others. These undesirable effects can include, for example, chemical reaction(s) and physical effects (e.g. stickiness which can cause handling difficulties, moisture migration giving rise to caking tendency). Facilities can consult Guidance for Compatibility of Fertilizer Blending Materials listed in the Reference section to assess potential incompatibility. The Safety Data Sheet (SDS – formerly MSDS) of the AN product should be used as one source of information to assess the overall hazard. The effects of added components can only be determined after careful review of the SDS and other available hazard literature.

    Confinement and/or the addition of fuel to AN creates a real danger of explosion. The addition of heat when either of these conditions exists can lead to disaster. Accordingly, the responder should quickly assess if AN has been involved in the fire and whether the AN has been compromised in any of these ways, and plan the fire response accordingly.

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Ammonium Nitrate (AN): Safe Storage, Handling, & Management

    Accidents

    In general, AN is manufactured for use as a fertilizer and to produce explosives and blasting agents.2 There are several other uses in the chemical industry, such as the production of nitrous oxide. These other uses represent a small fraction of amount of AN used in the US.

    Although pure AN is stable at ambient temperature and pressure under many conditions, the chemical itself does not burn. AN is a strong oxidizer3 and it supports and accelerates the combustion of organic (and some inorganic) material, increasing the fire hazard and complicating the fire fighting challenges. AN may explode when exposed to strong shock or when subjected to high temperatures in confinement.

    Millions of tons of AN are produced annually in the US. Incidents involving AN are rare, but as is shown in the accidents below, they can have severe consequences. Most recently, on April 17, 2013, a fire at a fertilizer storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, resulted in a detonation of AN fertilizer stored at the facility, killing 15 people, including some of the firefighters responding to the fire. That incident remains under investigation,4 but much has been learned from other AN explosions.

    • On October 2, 2003, a fire and explosion occurred in a double story farm warehouse in St. Romain en Jarez, France, involving 3 to 5 tons of AN stored in bags. This incident killed 26 people, 18 of whom were firefighters. In this incident, improper storage methods are thought to have played a role.

    • On September 21, 2001, a massive explosion occurred in a warehouse at the Azote de France fertilizer factory in Toulouse, France, involving 200-300 tons of AN, which was stored in bulk in a hangar. The explosion resulted in the death of 30 people, 2500 injuries, the destruction of the factory, and an additional 10,000 buildings being heavily damaged. The exact cause of this accident remains unknown. Storage of incompatible material with AN is believed to have been a factor.

    We have learned several key lessons as a result of these accidents and additions studies of AN, including:
    The conditions of storage and the materials co-located with AN while in storage are crucial to the safety and stability of the AN.

    Explosions of stored AN are responsible for some of the worst chemical disasters on record. Several of these incidents, including two in Germany in 1921, occurred during attempts to break up large piles of solidified or caked AN and ammonium sulfate mixtures using explosives. In both cases, the initial blast intended to break up solid AN initiated an unintended general detonation of the AN or ammonium sulfate mixture.

    AN will self-confine under some conditions. Adding heat, such as a booster charge intended to break up clumps, can initiate a general detonation of the AN.

    Other large explosions have been triggered by fires involving AN in confined spaces, including the 1947 explosion in Texas City, Texas, of two cargo ships. In that case, the first ship is thought to have exploded due to a fire in the hold involving AN fertilizer that had been manufactured with a wax coating and stored in paper bags. The wax would have been one potential source of fuel for mixing with the AN, thus creating an explosive situation. The second ship exploded some time later, likely due to a fire caused by the first explosion. These two explosions resulted in deaths of nearly 600, including all but one member of the Texas City Fire Department.

    As a result of such accidents and subsequent studies of the properties of AN, caked AN is no longer broken up with explosive materials, and organic material such as wax coatings are no longer used for AN fertilizer.
    Our intent in issuing this advisory is to identify actions that should be taken as a result of the lessons learned from the more recent accidents involving AN. Similar to the corrective steps taken following the 1921 and 1947 incidents, this advisory emphasizes the safe steps that should become common practice in the industry and emergency response community in order to prevent the catastrophic loss of life and property damage.

    Friday, September 6, 2013

    According to the National Weather Service, "Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died. In the heat wave of 1995 more than 700 deaths in the Chicago area were attributed to heat, making this the deadliest weather event in Chicago history. In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe claimed an estimated 50,000 lives."

    This July, much of the country experienced a heat wave. According to the National Weather Service, on July 18th over 106 million people were under a heat advisory and over 34 million were under an excessive heat warning in the United States.

    OSHA is continuing its partnership with the National Weather Service to include information to protect workers in all heat advisories and warnings. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels spoke with weather forecasters and meteorologists throughout the country as a reminder to include this information in broadcasts to continue to protect workers on July 1st, 2013 in a teleconference. (Dr. Michael's Remarks)

    Why are heat waves so deadly?

    Most of the people who die from heatstroke at work were in their first few days on the job, or were working during a heat wave. It takes time for the body to adapt to working in a new temperature and conditions, even if he or she has done similar work in the past. Just one week away from working in the heat can put workers at a higher risk upon the return of hotter and/or more humid weather.

    Heat waves are prolonged periods of hotter and/or more humid weather than average for a location at that time of year. Direct sun exposure can increase the heat index by up to 15 degrees. Even workers who are acclimatized to work in the heat, during a heat wave there is an additional period of acclimatization where he or she is at a higher risk of heat-related illness similar to someone new to the job.

    What are the signs of heat-related illness?

    Heat Exhaustion:
    Dizziness; headache; sweaty skin; fast heartbeat; nausea/vomiting; weakness; cramps

    Heat Stroke:
    Red, hot, dry skin; high temperature; confusion; fainting; convulsions

    How can heat-related illness be prevented?

    Water.Rest.Shade. These will mean the difference between life and death. In addition, building tolerance to working in the heat (acclimatization) is essential to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths especially for new workers or those who have been away for a week or more, but for all workers during a heat wave. This means employers must provide time for workers to adjust to the heat- gradually increasing the workload and providing appropriate water, rest and shade.

    Planning, communicating and implementing an appropriate work/rest schedule depending on the heat index and level of physical exertion is an important part of working in the heat, especially during acclimatization and during heat waves. OSHA's Using the Heat Index: A Guide for Employers has more information on acclimating and work/rest schedules. Water should be provided nearby and workers should drink it about every 15 minutes, even if not thirsty. Rest should be in the shade or air conditioning to cool the body down. Appropriate clothing helps, such as a hat and/or light-colored clothing. Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, keeping an eye on workers, and having an emergency plan are very important to save lives.

    Friday, August 30, 2013

    OSHA to protect safety and health of female construction workers

    Trade News Release Banner Image


    Aug. 22, 2013
    Contact: Office of Communications
    Phone: 202-693-1999

    OSHA signs alliance, creates Web page to protect safety and health of female
    construction workers

    WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has signed an alliance with the National Association of Women in Construction to develop training resources to protect women in the construction industry. The alliance will focus on musculoskeletal and sanitation hazards and issues related to poorly-fitting personal protective equipment.

    "Safety and health problems in construction create barriers to women entering and remaining in this field," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Through this alliance, we will work together to forge innovative solutions to improve the safety, health and working conditions for women in the construction trades and retain female workers during a critical time of job shortages in this industry."

    During the two-year agreement, the alliance intends to develop training programs, fact sheets and other outreach resources on musculoskeletal hazards, sanitation and PPE selection. The alliance will focus on these and other safety and health issues specific to female construction workers.

    Based on a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, OSHA this week also unveiled its new Women in Construction Web page, a site that outlines and addresses safety and health issues specific to female construction workers, including PPE, sanitary facilities and other resources.
    For more information on the alliance, visit the OSHA-NAWIC Web page. The agreement will remain in effect for two years. Visit OSHA's Women in Construction Web page for more information about OSHA regulations and resources for women in construction.

    NAWIC, founded in 1955 as a support network for women working in the construction industry, has more than 150 chapters and represents 4,500 members nationwide. As of 2010, there were about 800,000 women working in the construction industry, roughly nine percent of the industry workforce.

    Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA inspections or any other enforcement benefits. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/alliances/index.html.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    What is Crystalline Silica?

    Respirable crystalline silica – very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might encounter on beaches and playgrounds – is created during work operations involving stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, mortar, and industrial sand. Exposures to respirable crystalline silica can occur when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing these materials. These exposures are common in brick, concrete, and pottery manufacturing operations, as well as during operations using industrial sand products, such as in foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in the oil and gas industry.

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    Firefighters' precautions to prevent dust explosions

    Firefighting tactics may cause combustible dust explosions!

    Typical firefighting tactics can unintentionally create the conditions for an explosion by creating dust clouds, introducing air, using equipment that can be an ignition source, or applying incompatible extinguishing agents. The safeguards on both sides of this card can help keep you safe when operating around materials such as sawdust, flour, sugar, grain, coal, fertilizer and aluminum dust.

    How do dust explosions occur?


    Be prepared for an emergency incident

    • Conduct thorough pre-incident planning.
    • Work closely with facility safety personnel.
    • Have emergency contact information for each facility.
    • Identify and learn about explosion protection devices and systems.
    • Train regularly with facility personnel.
    • Check fire hose thread compatibility.
    • Review OSHA’s booklet Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust (OSHA 3644).
    • Draft an incident action plan.

    Take precautions to prevent or mitigate dust explosions

    • Fire attack: Choose defensive mode when warranted.
    • Extinguishing agent: Select agent compatible with burning or nearby material.
    • Hose streams: Use low-pressure medium fog streams to avoid dust clouds.
    • Fire extinguishers: Apply agent gently to avoid dust clouds.
    • Access and ventilation: Consider proper timing before introducing oxygen.
    • Power shutdown: Coordinate equipment shutdown with facility personnel.
    • Tools and equipment: Do not introduce ignition sources.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Recordkeeping by Employee Treated by a Reduction Procedure on Ring Finger

    June 26, 2013

    Dear Ms. B*****:

    Thank you for your September 2012 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the recordkeeping regulation contained in 29 CFR Part 1904 - Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

    You are asking OSHA to determine whether your employer is required to record a work-related injury sustained by an employee which was treated by a reduction procedure performed on her dislocated ring finger. You further stated that the employee had no broken bones, no medication, no splints, and no restrictions and returned to work immediately after the reduction of her ring finger. You want to know if this is considered first aid.

    As stated in the November 16, 2009 letter of interpretation, reduction is the care of a disorder not included on the first aid list under 1904.7(b)(5) and therefore it is considered medical treatment for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. Your letter states that an injured employee could have performed this procedure by himself or herself. This fact is irrelevant. 

    Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in responses to new information. To keep appraised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. In an effort to provide the public with prompt and accurate responses, we developed and continue to refine a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), in addition to maintaining a log of Letters of Interpretation (LOI) on the OSHA Recordkeeping web site.

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    Free OSHA On-Site Consultation Program for Small Businesses

    Free On-site Consultation program helps small businesses improve workplace safety and health


    On-site Consultation Program
    To assist small businesses in complying with OSHA standards and protecting workers, OSHA's On-site Consultation provides a free, confidential service for businesses with fewer than 250 employees per site (and no more than 500 employees nationwide). On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations.

    OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. In FY 2012, responding to requests from small employers looking to create or improve their injury and illness prevention programs, OSHA's On-site Consultation Program conducted approximately 30,000 visits to small business worksites covering over 1.5 million workers across the nation.

    On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    Hazard alert on 1-bromopropane

    Trade News Release Banner Image


    OSHA News Release: 13-1563-NAT
    July 31, 2013
    Contact: Adriano Llosa
    Phone: 202-693-4686
    Email: llosa.adriano.t@dol.gov

    OSHA and NIOSH issue hazard alert on 1-bromopropane,
    urge efforts to safeguard workers from exposure to toxic chemical

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health today issued a hazard alert to urge employers that use 1-bromopropane (1-BP) to take appropriate steps to protect workers from exposure. 

    "The use of 1-bromopropane has increased in workplaces over the last 20 years," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Workers exposed to this toxic chemical can suffer serious health effects, even long after exposure has ended. Hazardous exposure to 1-BP must be prevented. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers."

    Exposure to 1-BP has been associated with damage to the nervous system among workers, and it has been shown to cause reproductive harm in animal studies. The chemical is used in degreasing operations, furniture manufacturing, and dry cleaning. The hazard alert was issued in response to information on the increased use of 1-BP as a substitute for other solvents as well as recent reports of overexposure in furniture manufacturing. 1-BP was nominated as a chemical of concern in OSHA's Web Forum to Identify Hazardous Chemicals. 

    Workers can be exposed to 1-BP by breathing in vapors or spray mists and by absorption through the skin. The most effective way to protect workers from exposure is to eliminate the use of 1-BP, substituting the chemical with a less toxic substance or less hazardous material. Replacement chemicals also may have associated hazards that need to be considered and controlled.

    Engineering controls to reduce worker exposure to 1-BP include isolation of workplace operations and the installation of proper ventilation systems. Other controls, such as a reduction in the time a worker is exposed to the chemical, should also be considered. 

    The hazard alert can be viewed at: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA_3676.pdf.*

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    OSHA and Georgia Hispanic Construction Association - safety and health fair

    Trade News Release Banner Image


    Region 4 News Release: 13-1264-ATL (195)
    July 23, 2013
    Contact: Michael D'Aquino    Lindsay Williams
    Phone: 404-562-2076    404-562-2078
    Email: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov    williams.lindsay.l@dol.gov

    US Department of Labor's OSHA and the Georgia Hispanic Construction
    Association to host a safety and health fair July 28 in Duluth, Ga.

    DULUTH, Ga. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Georgia Hispanic Construction Association are sponsoring a construction safety and health fair for construction workers and their families on Sunday, July 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT at the Santa Fe Mall in Duluth.

    OSHA staff will distribute Spanish-language publications and answer questions about occupational safety and health issues. The fair will also feature a variety of free construction-related workshops, classes and discussions covering residential construction, ladder usage, landscaping, heat illnesses, personal protective equipment and the hazards of dealing with lead and asbestos. There will also be exhibitors and vendors on-site conducting tool and equipment safety demonstrations.

    "OSHA is committed to ensuring a safe workplace, and our goal is for workers to recognize good safety practices that employers have a responsibility to implement," said Christi Griffin, director of the Atlanta-West Area Office. "This is an opportunity for Hispanic workers to also involve their families and educate them on the culture of workplace safety and health, so that everyone knows what to expect in a safe workplace."
    In addition to its strong outreach program, OSHA has a vigorous enforcement program, having conducted more than 40,961 inspections nationwide last fiscal year and exceeding its inspection goals for the last several years. In fiscal year 2012, OSHA found nearly 78,727 violations of its standards and regulations.
    For more information about OSHA, contact Griffin at 678-903-7301. To register for this event and to learn more about the GHCA, email info@georgiahca.org, or contact them at 678-653-5447. The Santa Fe Mall is located at 3750 Venture Drive, Duluth 30096.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Final rule to broaden exemption for digger derricks

    May 28, 2013
    Contact: Office of Communications
    Phone: 202-693-1999

    OSHA issues final rule to broaden exemption for digger derricks in
    its Cranes and Derricks standard

    WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule that broadens the current exemption for digger derricks used in the electric-utility industry. The exemption has been expanded to include telecommunications work in addition to electric-utility work. This final rule provides a complete exemption from having to follow the requirements of Subpart CC of the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. The digger derricks exemption is part of the Cranes and Derricks final standard that was issued Aug. 9, 2010.

    Digger derricks are pieces of equipment used to drill holes for utility poles. These digger derricks are commonly used by companies to place poles inside holes and attach transformers and other items to the poles.

    OSHA published a direct final rule and a companion notice of proposed rulemaking on Nov. 9, 2012, and received a significant adverse comment on the direct final rule during the comment period. The agency then withdrew the direct final rule on Feb. 7, 2013. After considering the comment, OSHA is issuing this final rule based on the notice of proposed rulemaking.

    The rule becomes effective June 28, 2013.

    Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    US Department of Labor and US Postal Service improving worker safety.

    Trade News Release Banner Image


    OSHA News Release: 13-1289-NAT
    July 1, 2013
    Contact: Adriano Llosa
    Phone: 202-693-4686
    Email: llosa.adriano.t@dol.gov

    US Department of Labor and US Postal Service
    agree to terms on improving worker safety at postal facilities

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union have agreed to terms of a settlement that will improve safety in postal facilities across the country. The settlement follows negotiations stemming from inspections at 42 Postal Service sites in 2009 and 2010 that found violations of OSHA standards on electrical work practices. USPS contested the citations, and OSHA then sought enterprise-wide relief before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

    "As a large employer, with a substantial number of affected employees throughout many different types of facilities, the U.S. Postal Service faced many challenges in improving their electrical safe-work program," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "In entering this agreement, OSHA recognizes the Postal Service's commitment and dedication to worker safety."
    As part of the settlement, which covers all Postal Service facilities nationwide, including processing and distribution centers and post offices, USPS has revised its written policies and procedures on electrical work, prohibiting workers from working on electrically energized equipment except for a defined set of tasks that can only be performed while equipment is energized, such as troubleshooting and testing. To ensure compliance with these electrical safety policies, USPS will assign a trained electrical work plan coordinator at each facility. In addition, USPS will provide and require the use of electrically protective gloves and full body arc flash protection for energized work, including voltage testing. 

    "Employee safety has always been a top priority for the Postal Service," said Jeffrey Williamson, USPS chief human resources officer and executive vice president. "We are happy to have resolved this issue amicably and in the best interests of the safety of our employees."

    USPS has also agreed to audit the implementation of the electrical safe-work program at all maintenance-capable facilities, and report the results in detail to OSHA quarterly during the two-year term of the agreement. In addition, OSHA will meet with the Postal Service on a regular basis to discuss the results of OSHA monitoring inspections and USPS audits, as well as any concerns or problems encountered. Also, USPS will retrain all employees performing electrical work to comply with OSHA requirements for electrical work. Supervisors and affected employees also will receive additional training on electrical safe-work practices. 

    Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, said, "The APWU is pleased to be a part of this landmark commitment to worker safety, which will ensure the protection of postal workers from electrical hazards."

    Under the settlement, the Postal Service has agreed to pay $100,000 at signing and a suspended payment of $3 million pending full abatement of the hazards. OSHA will monitor the Postal Service's progress toward abatement and evaluate that progress against negotiated milestones.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    Grain industry hazards lead to deaths, injuries each year

    Trade News Release Banner Image


    Region 5 News Release: 13-1128-CHI
    June 19, 2013
    Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
    Phone:       312-353-6976
    Email: allen.scott@dol.gov      burke.rhonda@dol.gov
    Learn & Live: Grain industry hazards lead to deaths, injuries each year
    OSHA works with The Ohio State University to promote safe practices

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Five seconds. That is how quickly a worker can become engulfed in flowing grain and be unable to get out.

    Sixty seconds. That is how quickly a worker can be completely submerged in flowing grain. More than half of all grain engulfments result in death by suffocation.

    In 2010, at least 26 U.S. workers were killed in grain engulfments, the highest number on record.
    In the past 50 years, more than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported with a fatality rate of 62 percent, according to researchers at Purdue University in Indiana.

    Record death and injuries in 2010, led the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to reach out to the agricultural and grain handling industries to find ways to prevent deaths and injuries. OSHA also developed a Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities focusing on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards. These include engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, "struck by," combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards. 

    grain image
    "OSHA is working hard to change the 'it won't happen to me' mindset," said Nick Walters, OSHA Regional Administrator for six Midwestern states. "Grain handling injuries and deaths can be prevented if employers follow proper safety procedures." 

    Suffocation can occur when a worker becomes buried by grain as they walk on moving grain or attempt to clear grain built up on the inside of a bin. Moving grain acts like "quicksand" and can bury a worker in seconds. "Bridged" grain and vertical piles of stored grain can also collapse unexpectedly if a worker stands on or near it. The behavior and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out of it without assistance. 

    In Ohio, there have been two recent engulfment deaths on family farms in Milan and in Clark County near Springfield. The most recent death occurred May 28. Neither farm is under OSHA jurisdiction as they employ 10 or less individuals. 

    OSHA has worked with the Ohio State University to develop a grain safety training session as part of the 2012 OSU/OSHA Safety Day on Grain Safety and plans to do a presentation for the Grain Elevator and Processing Society later this year. 

    "OSHA is working together with the grain and agricultural industries and the agricultural community to train employers and workers about the unique hazards of the grain and feed industry," said Walters. "Through training, decals, brochures, websites, and other means of information communication, we will continue to work to improve awareness of these hazards and the safety and health of workers on Ohio farms and in grain handling facilities. We are committed to preventing the injuries and deaths that have been too frequent in the industry in recent years."

    OSHA, the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois and the Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition have also developed a stop sign decal to adhere to grain bin doors using pictures and short phrases reminding entrants to lockout potentially hazardous equipment, stay clear of waist high grain, cover floor holes and to follow other best practices. Individuals or companies can email the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois at info@gfai.org to request the decal, which is pictured above.

    OSHA has also published information related to common grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin entry techniques, sweep auger use, and many other grain related topics at www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html. OSHA's Grain Bin LEP is used in 25 states.

    To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    Safe operation of forklifts is OSHA's new local emphasis program in Idaho

    Trade News Release Banner Image


    Region 10 News Release: 13-953-SEA (SF-71)
    June 5, 2013
    Contact: Deanne Amaden        Jose A. Carnevali
    Phone: 415-625-2630         415-625-2631
    Email: amaden.deanne@dol.gov        carnevali.jose@dol.gov

    Safe operation of powered industrial trucks is focus of OSHA's new local
    emphasis program in Idaho

    BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is launching a local emphasis program in Idaho aimed at reducing injuries and fatalities associated with the operation of powered industrial trucks, including forklifts and lift trucks.

    OSHA compliance offices will begin conducting inspections in early June to identify and evaluate hazards of operating powered industrial trucks, or PITs, such as being struck by and caught between PITs, which could lead to serious employee injuries or death. Inspections will be conducted in selected agricultural and general industry operations in targeted industries, such as sawmills, food processing and distribution facilities, warehouse operations, and garden and home supply retailers. The establishments will be randomly selected for inspection. In addition, OSHA will respond to complaints, referrals and fatalities related to construction activities and other operations where powered industrial trucks are used.

    Between 2006 and 2010, OSHA's Boise Area Office conducted five fatality investigations where employees were crushed by or struck by forklifts. The office cited 142 violations of the Powered Industrial Truck standard during that same time frame; 93 of those violations were considered serious.
    Common violations include:
    • Not providing appropriate operator training, or certification of training.
    • Failure to conduct regular inspections prior to operation.
    • Defective equipment not taken out of service until repaired.
    • Elevating workers in an unsafe manner.
    • Failure to provide or ensure use of seat belts.
    Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards may call OSHA's Boise Area Office at 208-321-2960. Information on forklifts is also available online at www.osha.gov, with OSHA's eTool on powered industrial trucks available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/pit/index.html. Small businesses also may also request assistance at no charge from the Idaho Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program at 208-426-3283.

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    US Army & National Safety Month 2013

    National Safety Month
     
    Our Army observes National Safety Month each June in conjunction with public and private organizations across the United States. This year, we are expanding our efforts to promote the observance by dedicating a campaign to safety's significance in four key areas: Civilian injury prevention, ground operations, aviation operations and off-duty driving.

    New campaign materials, including informational feature articles and public service announcements, along with links to some of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center's most popular risk management tools, will be made available on this site at the beginning of each week through June. Preliminary materials are available now for download, so feel free to reproduce and distribute throughout your formations as needed.

    Be sure to check back weekly for the latest safety information, and remember that risk does not keep a calendar - use National Safety Month to strengthen your safety programs now and into the future.

    Army Safe is Army Strong!

    Thursday, May 30, 2013

    Safety stand-down at worksites in southeast for heat-related illnesses

    Trade News Release Banner Image


    Region 4 News Release: 13-1012-ATL (112)
    May 30, 2013
    Contact: Michael D'Aquino    Lindsay Williams
    Phone: 404-562-2076    404-562-2078
    Email: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov    williams.lindsay.l@dol.gov

    US Department of Labor's OSHA announces June 4 safety stand-down at
    work sites throughout Southeast to focus on heat-related illnesses and injuries 

    ATLANTA – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with trade associations and employers throughout Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, will conduct a one-hour safety stand-down at construction sites and workplaces on Tuesday, June 4, to raise awareness about the dangers of working in the summer heat. Workers will voluntarily stop work from 7 to 8 a.m. EDT to conduct safety training focused on the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and preventive steps to take while working in the hot weather.
    Every year, thousands of workers nationwide suffer from serious heat-related illnesses. If not quickly addressed, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, which has killed - on average - more than 30 workers annually since 2003. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps. It can quickly become heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple prevention steps are not followed.
    "This stand-down is intended for all those working in hot weather, such as workers in agriculture, construction, baggage handling, roofing and landscaping, and others who work outdoors," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's acting regional administrator for the Southeast. "It is the employer's responsibility to protect workers from injury and illness."

    In preparation for the summer season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training. Additionally, a Web page provides information and resources on heat illness, including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency, for workers and employers. The page is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html

    OSHA has released a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Available for Android-based platforms, Blackberry and the iPhone, the app can be downloaded in both English and Spanish by visiting http://s.dol.gov/RI.

    You can register for the stand-down event at the Associated General Contractors of America Inc. Georgia branch's website, at http://www.agcga.org/cs/safety_stand_down_program/safety_stand_down_on_heat_illnesses_june_25_2013

    An informational flyer and toolbox, in English and Spanish, are also available on the website.
    Members of the public interested in more information about OSHA's heat illness prevention campaign or to obtain copies of heat illness prevention-related publications should contact their local OSHA Office. To locate an OSHA office, visit http://www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html.

    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Intent to extend compliance date for Crane operator requirements

    May 22, 2013
    Contact: Office of Communications
    Phone: 202-693-1999
    OSHA announces intent to extend compliance date for crane
    operator certification requirements

    WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that it will propose to extend the compliance date for the crane operator certification requirement by three years to Nov. 10, 2017. The proposal would also extend to the same date the existing phase-in requirement that employers ensure that their operators are qualified to operate the equipment.
     
    OSHA issued a final standard on requirements for cranes and derricks in construction work on Aug. 9, 2010. The standard requires crane operators on construction sites to meet one of four qualification/certification options by Nov. 10, 2014. After OSHA issued the standard, a number of parties raised concerns about the qualification/certification requirements. OSHA is considering addressing these concerns through a later separate rulemaking. The agency will propose to extend the compliance date so that the qualification/certification requirements do not take effect during potential rulemaking or cause disruption to the construction industry.

    OSHA held three stakeholder meetings on operator certification/qualification issues in April 2013 and posted detailed notes of the meetings at http://www.osha.gov/cranes-derricks/stakeholders.html, a Web page devoted to the stakeholder meeting. The agency also plans to post a list of frequently asked questions on its Cranes and Derricks in Construction Web page to provide additional clarification and address some comments and concerns raised by stakeholders.

    Friday, May 17, 2013

    Youth Workers: Know the Rules

    Federal law establishes certain safety standards and restrictions for young workers. If you are not yet 18, you are prohibited from being employed in occupations that have been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. There may be some exceptions that apply to your particular situation, and different rules apply to work in agriculture. Be sure to check state regulations for young workers and the OSHA rules, which apply to all employees, regardless of their age.
    Below is a list of occupations banned for persons under the age of 18:
    1. Manufacturing or storing of explosives;
    2. Driving a motor vehicle or working as an outside helper on motor vehicles (More information on Hazardous Occupation #2, driving on the job and Distracted Driving);
    3. Coal mining;
    4. Forest fire fighting and forest fire prevention, timber tract, forestry service, and occupations in logging and sawmilling;
    5. Using power-driven woodworking machines (More information on woodworking);
    6. Exposure to radioactive substances and ionizing radiation;
    7. Using power-driven hoisting apparatus;
    8. Using power-driven metal-forming, punching and shearing machines;
    9. Mining, other than coal;
    10. Using power-driven meat-processing machines, slaughtering, meat and poultry packing, processing, or rendering;
    11. Using power-driven bakery machines;
    12. Using balers, compactors, and power-driven paper-products machines (More information on using balers, compactors, and paper-products machines);
    13. Manufacturing brick, tile, and related products;
    14. Using power-driven circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, chain saws, reciprocating saws, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs (More information on power tools);
    15. Working in wrecking, demolition, and ship-breaking operations;
    16. Roofing and work performed on or about a roof (More information on roofing);
    17. Trenching or excavating.

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    OSHA establishes partnership to protect construction workers at University of Chicago research center project

    CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established a strategic partnership with the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and W.E. O'Neil Construction Co. to reduce workers' exposure to hazards and the likelihood of serious injuries. The Illinois On-Site Consultation Program of the Illinois Department of Labor is also participating in the partnership, which covers the University of Chicago William Eckert Research Center Project.
    "This voluntary strategic partnership is focused on identifying and controlling hazards, improving safety and health programs, promoting a cooperative relationship between labor, unions and management, and encouraging employee participation in achieving a safe and healthful workplace during the construction of this research center," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "The agreement will require all workers to be covered by an effective employer safety and health program and to attend a project/safety orientation."
    The William Eckert Research Center project is a four-story, $170 million project, scheduled to be completed in 2015. OSHA will work with all companies and management involved in the project to promote safety programs and work methods using the latest technologies and the safest available methods.
    The W.E. O'Neil Construction Co. is the general contractor on the project. The company will develop a site- specific safety program and require all prime contractors on the project to provide on-site safety representatives, conduct regular safety audits, attend a specific safety orientation given by O'Neil personnel and conduct daily huddle and safety meetings to share safety concerns and implement best practices.
    Through its Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA works with employers, workers, professional and trade associations, labor organizations and other interested stakeholders to establish specific goals, strategies and performance measures to improve worker safety and health.
    Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha-safety-training.net

    Friday, May 3, 2013

    OSHA Launches initiative to protect temporary workers

    OSHA has announced an initiative to further protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.

    A memorandum sent to the agency’s regional administrators directs field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Inspectors will denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations and assess whether temporary workers received required training in a language and vocabulary they could understand. The memo that underscores the duty of employers to protect all workers from hazards is as follows:


    April 29, 2013
    MEMORANDUM FOR:
    REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS
    THROUGH:
    RICHARD E. FAIRFAX
    Deputy Assistant Secretary
    FROM:
    THOMAS GALASSI, Director
    Directorate of Enforcement Programs
    SUBJECT:
    Protecting the Safety and Health of Temporary Workers
    In recent months, we have received a series of reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries during the first days on a job. In some cases, the employer failed to provide safety training or, if some instruction was given, it inadequately addressed the hazard, and this failure contributed to their death.
    Given the number of temporary workers and the recent high profile fatal incidents, the agency is making a concerted effort using enforcement, outreach and training to assure that temporary workers are protected from workplace hazards. OSHA has previously addressed issues affecting temporary workers and leased employees in several letters of interpretation and directives, and has issued citations regarding lack of protection to such workers, most recently citing Bacardi Bottling Corporation following the death of a 21-year old temporary worker on his first day on the job.
    Employers have a duty to provide necessary safety and health training to all workers regarding workplace hazards. In order to determine whether employers are complying with their responsibilities under the Act, please direct CSHOs in your region to determine within the scope of their inspections whether any employees are temporary workers and whether any of the identified temporary employees are exposed to a violative condition. In addition, CSHOs should assess- using records review and interviews - whether those workers have in fact received required training in a language and vocabulary they understand. Recent inspections have indicated problems where temporary workers have not been trained and were not protected from serious workplace hazards due to lack of personal protective equipment when working with hazardous chemicals and lack of lockout/tagout protections, among others.
    To better identify this vulnerable population, we need your assistance gathering and tracking certain information during inspections and investigations ofworksites where temporary workers are employed. For the purposes of this information gathering, "temporary worker" includes those who are working under a host employer/staffing agency employment structure. 1
    To capture this information, we have created a new OIS code for temporary workers. If a CSHO determines during inspection activity that any temporary employees are exposed to a violative condition (i.e., included in the Number of Employees Exposed drop down in OIS), the CSHO shall enter the code "TEMPWORKERS" in the Federal Strategic Initiative Program field of the OIS system.
    In addition, when encountering temporary workers during the scope of an inspection, CSHOs should document the name of the temporary workers' staffing agency, the agency's location, and the supervising structure under which the temporary workers are reporting (i.e., the extent to which the temporary workers are being supervised on a day-to-day basis either by the host employer or the staffing agency).
    Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please contact Mary Lynn in the Office of Chemical Process Safety and Enforcement Initiatives, at lynn.mary@dol.gov. Thank you for your assistance in this new enforcement initiative.

    In addition, OSHA has begun working with the American Staffing Association and employers that use staffing agencies, to promote best practices ensuring that temporary workers are protected from job hazards.
    In recent months, OSHA has received a series of reports about temporary workers suffering fatal injuries – many during their first days on a job.
    Last week, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries about workers killed on the job in 2011. Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 542 – or 12 percent – of the 4,693 fatal work injuries reported. Hispanic/Latino contractors accounted for 28 percent of fatal work injuries among contractors, well above their 16 percent share of the overall fatal work injury total for the year. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/contractor2011.pdf.