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Friday, April 10, 2015

Lakeland inquest fraught with controversy

"Near the end of the day shift on Jan. 19, 2012, a saw on the large headrig Roche operated "deviated" throwing up sparks and lighting the nearby sawdust. That's not unheard of in a sawmill, but this time it also sent a burst of flame high enough to nearly hit the ceiling as it climbed the sawdust floating in the air."


Lakeland inquest fraught with controversy -  from The Working Forest, Your #1 source for forestry and forest industry news, and the Prince George Citizen

By: Prince George Citizen

Set to resume next month, plenty of ground has already been covered over the two-and-a-half weeks the coroner's inquest into the fatal Lakeland Mills sawmill explosion has been held so far.

By the time it was temporarily adjourned on March 26, the inquest had heard from 47 witnesses, beginning with the widows of Al Little and Glenn Roche, who died from the extensive burns they suffered in the April 23, 2012 blast.

Another 22 people were injured, many seriously.

With photos of the two deceased placed next to coroner Lisa Lapointe, testimony followed from employees at the sawmill who either worked alongside Little and Roche or were in the facility on the night in question.

What they had to say made for some gripping accounts and set the scene for a jury who has been asked to make recommendations to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

And no sooner did those employees begin to speak than questions started to be raised, notably about a "near miss" three months before.

Near the end of the day shift on Jan. 19, 2012, a saw on the large headrig Roche operated "deviated" throwing up sparks and lighting the nearby sawdust. That's not unheard of in a sawmill, but this time it also sent a burst of flame high enough to nearly hit the ceiling as it climbed the sawdust floating in the air.

The incident heightened a concern Roche already had about the mill's cleanliness. Lakeland added a third shift midway through 2011 to increase its output of lumber made from beetle-killed pine, which kicked up a particularly fine and dry sawdust.

What's more, in the days following the incident, Little, a supervisor at the sawmill, twice stopped production to have trouble areas cleaned up. Yet an internal report apparently authored by Little on what happened never made it to upper management and the incident was never reported to Prince George Fire Rescue because no one was hurt and there was no structural damage.

But perhaps the comment that most closely drove home the significance of the event came from Paul Orr, WorkSafeBC's lead investigator on the explosion that eventually rocked Lakeland. If not for one missing component in the recipe for an explosion - compression - he said there likely would have been an one on that day rather than three months later.

As it stood, Babine Forest Products near Burns Lake became the first victim of what safety authorities and sawmill operators have claimed throughout the inquest was a new phenomena - a full-on blast fueled by wood dust. Babine was leveled the day after the burst of flame at the Lakeland headrig, killing two employees and injuring 20 others.

That such explosions could occur in more confined spaces like baghouses, where sawdust sucked away through elaborate collection systems would end up, was common knowledge throughout the industry.

But for one to occur in a relatively open facility like the main operating area of a sawmill itself was unprecedented, officials have consistently stressed.

And in the days that followed Babine, there was a reluctance by WorkSafeBC in particular to raise any possibilities about the causes until all the facts were in. Should investigators have at least given a
heads up regarding the possibilities they were considering? (Natural gas and methane were also among the candidates for fuels).

According to conventional wisdom, the inquest heard more than once, it's best to wait rather than lead operators down the wrong path and away from something they may already be doing to address what they may think is the problem.

Yet hunches were already being pursued, at least by one Lakeland employee.

A bit more than two weeks after the blast at Babine, WorkSafeBC received an anonymous phone call in which a concern about the Lakeland's condition was raised along with a concern it could become the "next Babine sawmill."

The call came on a Friday afternoon and on the subsequent Monday morning, two inspectors paid an unannounced visit to the sawmill. Other than perhaps a bit more dust than usual, they did not notice anything but did not give the facility a thorough check.

It just so happened a Lakeland employee took photos that same day of some less easily-reached areas where high levels of dust had piled up and, after the blast, he turned them over to WorkSafeBC investigators. Coroner's counsel John Orr made extensive use of them as he confronted witnesses about the mill's condition.

Arguably, the inspectors' visit amounted to another missed opportunity to alert Lakeland regarding the seriousness of the problem.

But by the same token, management started to take action, the inquest heard, including hiring on more cleanup staff and shopping for an industrial-strength vacuum system to help workers more thoroughly deal with the dust.

Just 11 days before the explosion, representative of a supplier visited Lakeland. He also took photos and they showed some alarming piles, particularly near the area where WorkSafeBC investigators
concluded the explosion originated.

The representative told the inquest he warned Lakeland officials at the time but conversely, they said they never heard any such call for concern. In any case, it did appear Lakeland was ready to buy a system but it was going to take about six weeks to get it delivered and, in the interim, the explosion occurred.

Underlying the whole proceeding has been the question of whether a coroner's inquest is the right venue.

Critics, notably the Opposition New Democrats and the United Steelworkers, have called for a public inquiry, which they say would have the power to find fault, something an inquest does not do.

The provincial government has stood its ground although it compromised somewhat.

Originally, a single inquest was going to be held in Prince George for both the Lakeland and Babine explosions, but after some protest, there will now be a separate inquest for Babine, to start July 13 in
Burns Lake.

Perhaps in answer to the criticism, the tone has often been confrontational with coroner's counsel John Orr in particular quizzing witnesses on apparent inconsistencies in their testimony and other
counsel following suit.

Even the jury members continued the trend to some extent when given their opportunities to ask the witnesses questions.

That apparently has not been good enough for the USW who withdrew its counsel shortly after its Western Canada director, Stephen Hunt, completed his testimony, and issued a statement continuing its call for a public inquiry.

Meanwhile, coroner's counsel John Orr began leaning on Lakeland to release the results of an investigation it had commissioned into the blast.

At the same time, he told the inquest he had also learned that even though it was subject to privilege, Lakeland's counsel had offered to share the information it had gleaned with WorkSafeBC to help with its investigation only to be rebuffed.

After a bit of deliberation, Lakeland counsel Gavin Marshall handed over UBS devices containing material from the investigation and Orr convinced Lapointe to adjourn the proceeding to give him time to review the material.

Orr also said he will be summoning David Anderson, who was the WorkSafeBC president at the time, to answer questions about the decision to turn down Lakeland's offer.

That Anderson was not called in the first place has been an issue for the USW.

There has also been the question of whether an inquest can add anything.

The jury, reduced from seven at the start to five, will be asked to make recommendations on how to prevent similar incidents in the future.

But when given the chance, WorkSafeBC and other officials have emphasized that much has changed and that there is now an industry-wide recognition that wood dust can fuel explosions, not just fires, in sawmills.

Steps have been taken accordingly, they say, to deal with the issue.

Similarly, the jury was shown the many features incorporated into the new Lakeland sawmill to keep such a conflagration from ever happening again.

The inquest was first expected to wrap up by March 20 but that deadline was soon thrown out the window as it quickly became apparent lawyers representing the coroner, USW, WorkSafeBC, Lakeland and, to a lesser extent, the B.C. Safety Authority, were going to take witnesses through extensive questioning.

Just a handful of witnesses are left to testify, but given how long it's taken so there's no telling when the jury will start deliberations.

Either way, both the proceedings and the idea of an inquest itself has generated plenty of controversy.

The inquest resumes on May 11 at the Prince George courthouse.


Prince George Citizen


Additional Resources from Industrial Fire Prevention

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Biomass Conference: All Things Biomass (Power & Thermal, Pellets, Biogas...

The Thrower Extinguisher - an extinguisher which is activated when it is thrown into the flames

MERCOR TECRESA - The Thrower Extinguisher


A Japanese company has developed an extinguisher which is activated when it is thrown into the flames and, as we can see in the video, it extinguish the fire.
 
The container holds a blue liquid which, when released, it is scattered on the fire area releasing the
ammonium that acts as a fire retardant. This mixture all together the carbon dioxide generated by the fire extinguish it.





Monday, April 6, 2015

NFPA Prepares to Issue NFPA 652 Fundamentals of Combustible Dust

From NFPA Journal and NFPA.org - Credible Risk, March April 2015


Wood dust explosion in British Columbia.

PREPARING A NEW NFPA STANDARD requires a mixture of ingredients, some provided by the public and the technical committee, others provided by NFPA staff. The aim is that, in the end, we have developed a meaningful document that benefits the targeted occupancy or addresses a particular hazard. The path to completion can sometimes be unusual, as was the case with the new NFPA 652, Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, which is due to be issued this summer.


To ensure that certain deadlines were met, NFPA’s editorial team resorted to humor to catch my attention. I love soccer, and was fortunate to spend time in Brazil last summer at the FIFA World Cup, where I followed the progress of the U.S. side through the so-called “group of death.” When I returned to work, one of the tasks at the top of my list was to review the edits to the Second Revisions for NFPA 652 prior to balloting the committee. To help put me in the proper frame of mind, a colleague resorted to posting images of Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s star player, around my office, with captions of him pleading “please have NFPA 652 finished.” The tactic worked.


NFPA 652 provides the general requirements for management of combustible dust fire and explosion
hazards, and directs the user to NFPA’s industry or commodity-specific standards, as appropriate: NFPA 61, Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities; NFPA 484, Combustible Metals; NFPA 654, Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids; NFPA 655, Prevention of Sulfur Fires and Explosions; and NFPA 664, Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities.


The new standard establishes the relationship and hierarchy between it and any of the industry or commodity-specific standards, ensuring that fundamental requirements are addressed consistently across the industries, processes, and dust types.






Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed




CSB safety video about a fatal combustible dust explosion at the AL Solutions metal recycling facility in New Cumberland, West Virginia.Courtesy: USCSB YouTube Channel


That consistency is essential, since dust-related fires and explosions continue to impact a range of industries—and the people who work in them—around the globe. In the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), 50 combustible dust accidents, resulting in 29 fatalities and 161 injuries, occurred between 2008 and 2012. Those included a 2010 incident at A.L. Solutions in West Virginia, where titanium dust resulted in an explosion and fire that killed three workers; the 2011 incidents at the Hoeganaes metal powder plant in Tennessee, where three combustible metal dust accidents that year killed five workers; and the 2012 flash fire at a U.S. Ink plant in New Jersey that injured seven workers, which a CSB investigation attributed to the accumulation of combustible dust inside a poorly designed dust collection system that had been put into operation just four days before the accident. Last August, aluminum dust was blamed for a catastrophic explosion at an automotive parts factory in Jiangsu, China, that resulted in the deaths of 146 workers and injuries to scores more.
In January, the CSB used the public meeting announcing the completion of its U.S. Ink report to once again highlight the need for a “national general industry combustible dust standard.”



How we got here


While NFPA addressed combustible dust hazards and safeguards for flour and pulverized fuels, such as coal, as far back as 1920, it wasn’t until 2003 that users from all sectors  comprehensively examined the specific requirements contained in the five commodity-specific NFPA standards. Those documents apply broadly to  varied facilities, processes, equipment types, and dust types in order
to protect against the hazards from combustible dust fires and explosions.



A basis for safety embedded in each of those standards requires the fuel—in this case dust—to be managed, ignition sources to be controlled, and impact from an explosion to be limited through construction, isolation, and housekeeping. The CSB highlighted those standards in each of its investigation reports in 2003and in its 2006 combustible dust study. Among its conclusions was that
“incidents would have been prevented or consequences mitigated” if the facilities had complied with the relevant NFPA standards. The CSB also recommended that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develop a comprehensive federal standard to address the myriad workplace hazards found in facilities where combustible solids are handled, used, or stored in a manner that has the potential to generate and release combustible dusts.






Inferno: Dust Explosion at Imperial Sugar



On February 7, 2008, fourteen workers were fatally burned in a series of sugar dust explosions at the Imperial Sugar plant near Savannah, Georgia. This CSB safety video explains how the accident occurred.Courtesy: USCSB YouTube Channel


That recommendation remained in place
without regulatory action by OSHA until 2008, when a tragic explosion and fire destroyed an Imperial Sugar refinery near Savannah, Georgia.
The event claimed 14 lives and injured nearly 40, but it was also instrumental in helping overcome the inertia that had prevented any
movement on a federal combustible dust standard. In March 2008, a revised and more robust national emphasis program for combustible dust was issued by OSHA. It provided guidance for the OSHA compliance teams on how they should inspect facilities where combustible dusts might be present. It incorporated the NFPA commodity-specific standards in two ways: to aid compliance officials in determining where combustible dust hazards might be found, and, where hazards are identified, to serve as a feasible means for abating those hazards. The momentum towards developing a regulation continued in April 2009 with the announcement that OSHA would initiate the rulemaking process in order to develop a
federal standard.



In October 2009, OSHA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, or ANPR. While the ANPR asked a number of questions, several of them specifically sought comment on whether to simply use the existing NFPA standards, either through incorporation by reference or by permitting employers already in compliance with the applicable NFPA standard to be considered as complying with any OSHA regulation that would be developed. The commentary and questions further suggested that, while NFPA publishes several documents enabling unique industry processes and dust types to be addressed individually, the approach may also contribute to confusion and possible inconsistent requirements between standards.





Global Problem timeline

Click to enlarge



In response to this perceived
challenge to the longstanding NFPA combustible dust standards, NFPA staff addressed the question of whether there was a better way to structure the committees and standards. Working through the direction of the NFPA Standards Council, a task group chaired by a member of council explored options for restructuring the combustible dust project. The task group consisted of the chairs of the four existing, commodity-specific standards technical committees, an additional member from each committee, and NFPA staff liaisons. A report was presented to the Standards Council at its March 2011 meeting that contained two key recommendations: the establishment of a correlating committee to oversee the work of the four existing combustible dust committees, as well as the work of a proposed new committee on fundamentals; and the establishment of a new technical committee whose scope would permit it to develop documents on the management of hazards from combustible dusts and combustible particulate solids.



For any NFPA standards activity, the scope frames the work of the committee as it executes its charter, namely the development of one or more documents. With the creation of the correlating committee, an extra layer of oversight was added to the combustible dust document family to be more responsive to the challenges made as part of the OSHA narrative in the ANPR.

According to the scope of the correlating committee, the group was given responsibility “for documents on hazard identification, prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires and explosions … in facilities and systems” involved with “combustible particulate solids, combustible metals, or hybrid mixtures.” While that scope is broad, that of the new technical committee on dust fundamentals is limited to “information and documents on the management of fire and explosion hazards from combustible dusts and particulate solids.”


The committee on fundamentals began its work in earnest in early 2012, using task groups to develop draft chapters based on a straw-man outline proposed by the committee. A preliminary draft was developed and approved by the committee to serve as the basis for requesting approval from the NFPA Standards Council to establish a specific revision cycle. The Council initially approved the
development of NFPA 652 for the Fall 2014 cycle; during the second draft stage of the process, however, the committee requested more time to  review and process the extensive public comments received. That request was approved for the Annual 2015 cycle, which is where the new standard
currently remains.



With the completion of the NFPA 652 Second Draft in May, other combustible-dust standards activities began. Three of the industry or commodity-specific standards entered the Annual 2016 revision cycle and held their First Draft meetings last summer. One of their tasks was to consider the impact of NFPA 652 on their documents. At the same time, the correlating committee met to review and approve the Second Draft of NFPA 652 and the First Drafts for NFPA 61, NFPA 654, and NFPA 664. In the three years since this restructuring process began, the important first steps toward developing consistency within the NFPA combustible dust standards have been taken.


Going forward


The benefits of the formal hierarchy outlined in the new NFPA 652 result when an industry or commodity-specific standard must justify why some “fundamental” provisions in the standard are not applicable to a specific industry. Throughout the standard, requirements are linked to lessons learned or findings reported in investigations by the CSB and elsewhere.


For that reason, hazard awareness appears prominently within the standard through the inclusion of
chapters on hazard identification, hazard analysis or evaluation, and hazard management involving hazard prevention or mitigation. Both the CSB and OSHA raise concerns with the retroactivity statement that generally appears within NFPA documents using approved “boilerplate” language, which states that the provision applies throughout the document to new facilities only unless modified. Using the lessons learned and the agency comments, the committee made some of the requirements in NFPA 652 apply retroactively.






223330 BA_Omaha World _opt


Grain dust was blamed for an explosion at an animal feed facility in Omaha, Nebraska, in January 2014 that killed two and injured 10. Photo: Brynn Anderson; The World Herald


The most controversial provision to be applied retroactively is the dust hazards analysis, or DHA. The standard defines DHA as “a systematic review to identify and evaluate the potential fire, flash fire, or explosion hazards associated with the presence of one or more combustible particulate solids in a process or facility.” For existing facilities, a DHA is permitted to be phased in and completed not later than three years from the effective date of the standard. Because so many of the investigation findings conclude that owners/operators appear to be unaware of the hazards posed by combustible particulate solids that have the potential to form combustible dusts when processed, stored, or handled, the committee believed it was essential to establish the DHA as a fundamental step in creating a plan for safeguarding such facilities.


While these steps and others demonstrate NFPA’s active focus on safeguarding against combustible dust hazards, there has been little progress on the regulatory front. OSHA announced at the end of 2014 that the combustible dust rulemaking was no longer on its list of active regulatory projects, citing other priorities. In an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times in August, Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the CSB, decried the series of laws, executive orders, and judicial barriers that have “virtually paralyzed” the government’s ability to issue new safety standards. “According to a nonpartisan congressional study, the process can take nearly 20 years from start to finish,”  Moure-Eraso wrote. “Given those conditions, is it any wonder that a recent RAND Corporation report found that American workers are three times more likely than their British counterparts to die on the job? ... I believe that OSHA’s leadership wants to move forward with a combustible dust standard just as much as we do. But as its director, David Michaels, recently told NBC News, ‘We have a standards process that is broken.’”


While a comprehensive federal standard for combustible dust no longer seems likely with that announcement, the fire and explosion hazards from combustible dusts continue to exist, and they present a credible risk within facilities across a range of industries. Commenting on the CSB release of its U.S. Ink report, Moure-Eraso said that an OSHA standard “would likely have required compliance with National Fire Protection Association codes that speak directly to such critical factors as dust containment and collection, hazard analysis, testing, ventilation, air flow, and fire suppression.” NFPA believes that its standards continue to address those critical factors.


Perhaps the time is right for OSHA to add NFPA 652 to its national emphasis program, or to take other steps to encourage industries to comply with NFPA standards.


GUY COLONNA is NFPA's division manager of industrial and chemical engineering.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

How to Prevent Combutisble Dust Fires and Explosions

From WoodworkingNetwork.com

How to Prevent Comdust

Combustible Sawdust - How to Protect Your Workers Your Business


Posted: 04/01/2015 4:04PM











EDITOR’S NOTE: This information was presented in the webcast “Combustible Sawdust - How to Protect Your Workers Your Business,” which broadcast in March. Presented by Air Handling’s Jamison Scott, and sponsored by GreCon, the full webcast can be heard on-demand at WoodworkingNetwork.com/webcasts

Combustible dust continues to make headlines. One of the top health and safety issues in the woodworking industry, it impacts companies of
all sizes.


OSHA defines combustible dust as “fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in the air, in certain conditions.” For a combustible dust explosion to occur, five factors must be present: fuel (combustible dust), ignition (heat or spark), oxygen
(air), dispersion (dust suspension) and confinement. 


Removal of any one element will eliminate the possibility of occurrence. But far too often, this is not the case, sometimes with fatal consequences.

While OSHA has been following this issue for approximately 10 years, it recently has begun inspecting and fining companies for improper combustible dust exposure and possible hazards. In doing so, it has been citing the standards put forth by the National Fire Protection
Agency (NFPA).


The NFPA, an International Codes and Standards Organization, creates voluntary consensus standards and provides guidelines for preventing combustible dust explosions. Those most applicable to the woodworking industry include: NFPA 664: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities, and the soon-to-be-released NFPA 652: Standard on Combustible Dust.

Prevention Methods
While commonsense, housekeeping is one of the most important things a facility can do to control wood dust buildup. One of the most important things any facility can do is fully engage in housekeeping and fugitive dust control, said Jamison Scott, executive vice president of Air Handling. If the underlying surface colors of a machine, for example, are not readily discernible, there could be a dust deflagration hazard.

However, he cautioned, refrain from blowing the dust off with an air gun. That simply releases and stratifies the dust. Instead, use a vacuum. Then determine the source of escaping dust and repair it. For example, ensure all ductwork is airtight.

In addition to housekeeping, other steps for prevention include: Hazard Recognition/Assessment; Building Design & Engineering Controls; Administrative Controls; and Worker Training. Hazard Recognition/Assessment includes determining if dust is combustible. This can be done via Dust
Explosion Testing, which may include a Particle Size and Moisture Analysis, Explosion Severity Test, which tests the Kst value and Minimum Explosible Concentration (MEC). Hazard  Recognition/Assessment also covers issues related to NFPA as well as state and local codes.


Building Design & Engineering Controls cover “fixed structures that are built into a facility or processing equipment designed to remove or minimize a hazard.” Building design focuses on preventing fugitive dust accumulation on beams and other flat surfaces, including rectangular shaped ductwork and flat surfaced lighting fixtures.


Engineering controls focus on the equipment, such as dust collection systems or prevention devises such as spark detection in dust collectors and ductwork, and explosion venting and suppression systems.


Documentation, is one of the most important components of Administrative Controls. Agencies, such as OSHA, require written rules and procedures to ensure policies are fully understood and practiced by employees. In addition, various NFPA Standards have detailed proper methods for operating  procedures, inspections, testing and maintenance procedures as well as training.

Who’s in Charge
The following is a list of some of the agencies and organizations involved in monitoring dust hazards in the woodshop.

OSHA: Since currently there is no specific standard related to Combustible Dust, the General Duty Clause is being cited for these violations, referencing NFPA as a resource. Congress: Tired of waiting for OSHA to create a standard, Congress has begun introducing legislation to regulate combustible dust. The most recent has been H.R. 691, the Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust  Explosions and Fires Act of 2013.

NFPA: Creates voluntary consensus standards used by OSHA, AHJ, Business Owner and other related parties.

AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction): This includes the fire marshal, building inspector, or any
other local, state, or federal inspector having jurisdiction over your facility.


Insurance Company: The FM Global data sheet 7-76 Prevention and Mitigation of Combustible Dust lists “Woodworking” as the greatest number of “Losses by Industry” and “Dust Collectors” as highest number of “Losses by Equipment Type.”

Business Owner: Ultimately the owner has the responsibility to protect workers and the business, by using these and any other appropriate and relevant resources.

Employee: Worker training is of utmost importance for safety and the prevention of workplace incidents.





How to Prevent Comdust


Posted:
04/01/2015 4:04PM




 0

 0 Google +0  0


 

Printer-friendly version of this articlePrinter-friendly version of this article  

EDITOR’S NOTE: This information
was presented in the webcast “Combustible Sawdust - How to Protect Your
Workers & Your Business,” which broadcast in March. Presented by
Air Handling’s Jamison Scott, and sponsored by GreCon, the full webcast
can be heard on-demand at WoodworkingNetwork.com/webcasts.



Combustible
dust continues to make headlines. One of the top health and safety
issues in the woodworking industry, it impacts companies of all sizes.


OSHA defines combustible dust as “fine particles that present an
explosion hazard when suspended in the air, in certain conditions.” For a
combustible dust explosion to occur, five factors must be present: fuel
(combustible dust), ignition (heat or spark), oxygen (air), dispersion
(dust suspension) and confinement. Removal of any one element will
eliminate the possibility of occurrence. But far too often, this is not
the case, sometimes with fatal consequences.


While OSHA has been following this issue for approximately 10 years,
it recently has begun inspecting and fining companies for improper
combustible dust exposure and possible hazards. In doing so, it has been
citing the standards put forth by the National Fire Protection Agency
(NFPA).


The NFPA, an International Codes and Standards Organization, creates
voluntary consensus standards and provides guidelines for preventing
combustible dust explosions. Those most applicable to the woodworking
industry include: NFPA 664: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and
Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities, and the
soon-to-be-released NFPA 652: Standard on Combustible Dust.


Prevention Methods


While commonsense, housekeeping is one of the most important things a
facility can do to control wood dust buildup. One of the most important
things any facility can do is fully engage in housekeeping and fugitive
dust control, said Jamison Scott, executive vice president of Air
Handling. If the underlying surface colors of a machine, for example,
are not readily discernible, there could be a dust deflagration hazard.


However, he cautioned, refrain from blowing the dust off with an air
gun. That simply releases and stratifies the dust. Instead, use a
vacuum. Then determine the source of escaping dust and repair it. For
example, ensure all ductwork is airtight.


In addition to housekeeping, other steps for prevention include:
Hazard Recognition/Assessment; Building Design & Engineering
Controls; Administrative Controls; and Worker Training.


Hazard Recognition/Assessment includes determining if dust is
combustible. This can be done via Dust Explosion Testing, which may
include a Particle Size and Moisture Analysis, Explosion Severity Test,
which tests the Kst value and Minimum Explosible Concentration (MEC).
Hazard Recognition/Assessment also covers issues related to NFPA as well
as state and local codes.


Building Design & Engineering Controls cover “fixed structures
that are built into a facility or processing equipment designed to
remove or minimize a hazard.” Building design focuses on preventing
fugitive dust accumulation on beams and other flat surfaces, including
rectangular shaped ductwork and flat surfaced lighting fixtures.
Engineering controls focus on the equipment, such as dust collection
systems or prevention devises such as spark detection in dust collectors
and ductwork, and explosion venting and suppression systems.


Documentation, is one of the most important components of
Administrative Controls. Agencies, such as OSHA, require written rules
and procedures to ensure policies are fully understood and practiced by
employees. In addition, various NFPA Standards have detailed proper
methods for operating procedures, inspections, testing and maintenance
procedures as well as training.


Who’s in Charge


The following is a list of some of the agencies and organizations involved in monitoring dust hazards in the woodshop.


OSHA: Since currently there is no specific standard
related to Combustible Dust, the General Duty Clause is being cited for
these violations, referencing NFPA as a resource.


Congress: Tired of waiting for OSHA to create a standard, Congress
has begun introducing legislation to regulate combustible dust. The most
recent has been H.R. 691, the Worker Protection Against Combustible
Dust Explosions and Fires Act of 2013.


NFPA: Creates voluntary consensus standards used by OSHA, AHJ, Business Owner and other related parties.


AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction): This includes
the fire marshal, building inspector, or any other local, state, or
federal inspector having jurisdiction over your facility.


Insurance Company: The FM Global data sheet 7-76
Prevention and Mitigation of Combustible Dust lists “Woodworking” as the
greatest number of “Losses by Industry” and “Dust Collectors” as
highest number of “Losses by Equipment Type.”


Business Owner: Ultimately the owner has the
responsibility to protect workers and the business, by using these and
any other appropriate and relevant resources.


Employee: Worker training is of utmost importance for safety and the prevention of workplace incidents.
- See more at:
http://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/woodworking-industry-management/woodshop-safety-regulations/How-to-Prevent-Comdust-298367761.html?view=all#sthash.EvkCBJvr.dpuf

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Device Puts Out Fires With Sound Waves

From Industry Tap and George Mason University

Crank It Up! George Mason Students Designed Device That Puts Out Fires With Sound Waves



By: | March 26th, 2015
YouTube/George Mason University
YouTube/George Mason University


George Mason University’s Seth Robertson and Viet Tran have designed a device capable of  extinguishing fires with sound waves!

Who knew cranking up dubstep and waiting for the drop could actually be used for something  helpful?

Using $600 of equipment in total, encompassing amps, a speaker and something thing they call a  collimator, Robertson and Tran discovered sound in the 30 to 60 hertz range seems to vibrate the oxygen away from the fuel, causing the flame to die out.

The two students have already proven many of their peers and professors wrong, and actually already have a preliminary patent for their invention.

Next, is deciding whether or not the idea is scalable and if a full patent is necessary?

I’ll guess we’ll just have to wait and see what these two college students decide…








Friday, March 27, 2015

Grain Dust Flash Fire at Foods Feed Mill

From 5NEWSOnline.com


Three Hospitalized After Flash Fire at OK Foods Feed Mill




IMG950368


LEFLORE COUNTY (KFSM) – Three people are hospitalized with severe
burns Tuesday morning (Mar. 24) after a flash fire at the OK Foods Feed
Mill in LeFlore County.


Two people remain in critical condition at a hosptial in Tulsa. The other worker was transported to Sparks Hospital with minor injuries.


An officer with Heavener Police said the flash fire happened at the mill on Highway 128 around 7:30 p.m. Monday night (Mar. 23). Authorities said it happened on the third floor of the mill, where two contract welders were working.


Authorities said grain dust suddenly caught fire.


Several employees were inside the building at the time of the incident jumping to safety from three stories up, authorities said. Most of them were able to make it outside of the building without any
injuries.


The conditions and the identities of the burn victims are not being released at this time.


OK Foods CEO Trent Goins released the following statement on the incident:


“Three people were injured Monday at our feed mill in Heavener. An arc flash occurred while contract work was being performed on a feed bin. Three contract workers were transported to the local hospital were they remain today. Worker safety is paramount to OK Foods and we will continue to investigate this isolated incident, which did not impact the operation of the feed mill. The feed mill remains open today.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Inspector Says Lakeland Lacked Fire Safety Plan | CKPG | TV

From CKPG | TV Online


Inspector Says Lakeland Lacked Fire Safety Plan

140414_lakelandmillsFire inspection reports for the Lakeland Mill were reviewed at an inquest Monday.


A current captain with Prince George Fire Rescue testified regarding a series of inspections at the  Lakeland Mill before the April 2012 explosion. Fire Prevention Officer Captain Steve Feeney told the  inquest Lakeland was typically inspected on a yearly basis.


During an inspection in 2008, fire officials recognized a need for a mill fire safety plan. Feeney  alleged there was no plan in place at the mill during an inspection two years later. He says there was still no plan in inspections that followed.


Other reported issues included emergency exit lighting not being illuminated and an evacuation plan not being posted.


Jurors viewed  a US Chemical Safety Board video, which listed wood products as a potential source of combustible dust explosions.


Feeney says he inspected dust because of its fire risk. When asked if the captain knew dust was an explosion hazard in 2010, Feeney told inquest counsel “no.”


Counsel asked him when he learned of the explosion risk, Feeney replied “after Babine,” referencing the Burns Lake mill explosion in January, 2012.


In April that year, 43 year old Allan Little and 46 year old Glenn Roche died as a result of the  Lakeland explosion.


During a re-inspection at Lakeland a month before its explosion, Feeney said “the dust had been cleaned up. There was very little dust in the mill.”


The fire department doesn’t have the authority to shut down a workplace. Enforcement is carried out by the Office of the Fire Commissioner and Work Safe BC. The only penalty the fire department can
deal is a $150 fine to re-inspect a previous re-inspection.





Monday, March 2, 2015

Progress in controlling wood dust explosions

From the Vancouver Sun

Progress made in controlling wood dust in mills, agency reports

 

Scrutiny continues on industry after deadly wood dust-fuelled explosions in 2012


Smoke rises from the burned out Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake in January 2012.

Smoke rises from the burned out Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake in January 2012.

Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD, THE CANADIAN PRESS



The B.C. sawmill industry is making progress in controlling potentially explosive wood dust, but monitoring will continue, says WorkSafeBC.
 
The chief agency responsible for workplace safety issued only three orders for wood dust problems during the latest inspection period between Oct. 1, 2014 and Jan. 31 that involved 117 sawmills.

The results, however, cannot be compared to those from the four previous inspection rounds when dozen of orders were issued because this time WorkSafeBC gave companies that had a good wood dust safety record the option of conducting their own daily inspection and reporting to WorkSafeBC on a weekly basis.

Of 106 mills who passed previous rounds of inspections, 96 chose to do this.

The other mills opted for WorkSafeBC inspections or third-party inspections.

The orders included one on Nov. 5 against Teal Cedar in Surrey for not developing and implementing a wood-dust  management program, according to inspection reports obtained from WorkSafeBC.

Another order was issued Nov. 25 to Conifex Timber in Fort St. James for wood dust accumulations at the sawmill  chipper determined to be a “high risk” of fire.

The area of the mill was ordered to be shut down while it was cleaned, which took less than two hours.

“We are pleased with what we see, but also still cautious,” said WorkSafeBC vice-president prevention Al Johnson.

He noted that because mills had been given the option of self-inspections, they would need to “validate” progress with another round of WorkSafeBC inspections, likely before the summer.

“But indications are that mills have taken a strong level of ownership to the issue,” said Johnson.

He said he’s hopeful the daily inspections and other measures will become part of the industry’s health-and-safety culture and WorkSafeBC can eventually cease its special attention to wood dust.

The latest inspection results were outlined in an interim report released Wednesday on a plan by former B.C. bureaucrat Gord Macatee to improve investigations to increase chances of court convictions and improve safety at sawmills.

Macatee was appointed by the B.C. Liberal government as a special adviser to WorkSafeBC after investigations failed to result in court charges in two deadly wood dust-fuelled sawmill explosions in 2012. The explosions at Babine Forest  Products near Burns Lake and at Lakeland Mills in Prince George killed four workers and severely injured dozens more.

Macatee said he was pleased 96 mills opted for their own daily inspections. “What I was trying to get to was just because you were lucky enough to not to have a problem the day the inspector happened to be there, you also need to be sure you are good every day,” he said.

Council of Forest Industries president James Gorman said he believes improved dust management at sawmills will be  maintained because mills have embedded dust control into their daily operations and spent millions of dollars upgrading equipment to control dust.

In a previous round of WorkSafeBC inspections, during the winter of 2013, 42 per cent of 144 sawmills inspected  received citations for dust accumulations, ventilation problems, inadequate dust control programs or the use of high-pressure air to move dust.

That same winter, WorkSafeBC issued 13 stop-work orders for levels of wood dust it considered an immediate safety threat.

During the latest round of WorkSafeBC’s inspections of B.C.’s 10 wood pellet plants, four orders were issued including a stop-work order at Okanagan Pellet in West Kelowna on Nov. 18.

ghoekstra@vancouversun.com
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Preventing Dryer System Fires and Explosions

With the addition of layered fire and explosion protection systems, this is an excellent article on dryer system operation and maintenance for prevention of fires and explosions.

From Process Heating and Becky Long, Thompson Dehydrating Co.

How to Prevent Dryer System Fires and Explosions

Knowing what causes fires and explosions is the first step in prevention.

February 13, 2015





Trans

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Portrait on Paper

From Go Wood and Domtar: Paper Made Here: A Portrait on Paper

Paper Made Here: A Portrait on Paper

Pretty straightforward message here today.

North American wood and paper industries are among the most productive, most professional, and environmentally-conscientious companies in the world. Our environmentalist community can take a share of the credit for that last one. It's a great story of when people work together for the right things, good things happen.

So let's give credit where credit is due, and celebrate the results. Let's hope that our efforts influence others in areas of the world where industrial production is not as professional, nor conscientious. Communication, and collaborations are indirect ways to send that message.

But the best, most direct and effective way to share our industrial heritage is through the marketplace.  "Buy American" is not, at its root, a dirty protectionist rallying cry for wealthy  corporate shareholders or flag-waving crazies. It's a bit of wisdom for demonstrating through  consumer purchases that  healthy values mean something to us. Something that we care enough about  to invest our hard-earned wages in.

When we lose that commitment, we lose a bit of ourselves.

http://youtu.be/Hq9fQXWSvFM



Thanks to the folks at Domtar for the reminder.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Stop Explosion Propagation

From Chemical Processing

Stop Explosion Propagation

Choose a suitable method to limit damage elsewhere in the process


By David Grandaw, IEP Technologies


Industrial explosions are a constant threat to any facility that handles combustible vapors or finely divided combustible dust. Most organic material will burn in a solid form; if this same material is in a dust or vapor form, under certain conditions it will explode. Combustible dust and vapor explosions happen frequently in the processing industry. Sometimes these explosions remain confined to the process vessel in which they originate. However, more often than not, the initial explosion will result in a secondary explosion with devastating results outside the vessel or through interconnecting ducts
or pipes.


Having a comprehensive plan to prevent an explosion from happening under normal circumstances and mitigating the effects of the deflagration under upset conditions is critical to the safe operation of any facility that is faced with this threat. The plan must include considering identifying where potential for flame  propagation exists and a decoupling strategy to prevent this propagation from occurring. This article will discuss various explosion-isolation options.


For an explosion to occur, five elements must be present:


1. fuel, i.e., a combustible dust or vapor;
2. an ignition source;
3. an oxidizing agent, which usually is the oxygen in the air;
4. confinement, which results in pressure buildup during the incipient explosion; and
5. in the case of dust, dispersion into the airstream.


In the chemical industry, vessels typically subjected to this threat include dryers, mills, reactors, air/material separators such as dust collectors, and storage vessels. In these vessels, it is common for the combustible dust to reach its minimum-explosive-concentration level at least locally within process vessels. All that’s needed to initiate the deflagration is an ignition source. The pressure from the incipient explosion travels at the speed of sound while the growing fireball initially propagates at a much slower speed. A typical sequence for a dust explosion includes:

  • The dust cloud becomes ignited.
  • The deflagration pressure results in rupture of the vessel.
  • The shock wave from the ruptured vessel liberates dust that has accumulated on horizontal surfaces in the process area, such as atop beams, ducts, conveyors and even light fixtures, causing the dust to
  • become suspended in the process area.
  • The fireball escaping fromthe vessel ignites the newly suspended dust in the process area,
  • triggering a secondary explosion that can destroy the building.
  • Flame propagation occurs through interconnected ducts, chutes or conveyors to connected equipment upstream or downstream, prompting highly energetic explosions in these connected vessels (Figure 1).

Ignition control, proper housekeeping to remove residual dust, continuous training of plant personnel on dealing with the dust explosion risk, and management of change to address the effects of a process or product change are all critical to helping prevent an explosion from occurring under normal  operating conditions.

Unfortunately, abnormal conditions that result in an explosion can occur in any process line. This is  why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Quincy, Mass., requires the use of explosion mitigation techniques for vessels subjected to an explosion threat. NFPA 69 [1] lists a number of  mitigation methods for dealing with this risk.

These methods include inerting with a noncombustible gas or dust, building the vessel strong enough to withstand the pressure from a deflagration (containment), explosion venting and explosion  suppression.

Except for inerting, these protection techniques don’t eliminate the risk of an explosion initiating in one vessel and propagating to interconnected vessels.

Explosion Propagation

The transmission of flame from one vessel  to another through an elongated duct results in enhanced burning rates because the  turbulence created during propagation  increases the mixing of fuel and air. The
result can be a flame jet ignition and  pressure piling traveling to the interconnected vessel. This often causes a much more energetic explosion in the second vessel than in the source vessel. If explosion protection measures such as venting or suppression are installed on the second vessel, they likely were sized based on a specific deflagration index (KST).
KST values are determined using two 5,000-joule igniters, or 10,000 joules of energy. The flame jet ignition can produce a significantly higher energy level, resulting in a much more severe explosion than that for which the protection measures are designed.



When left unchecked, flame propagates through interconnected duct from initial flame speeds of  around 10 m/sec to a speed where they transition to a detonation, i.e., the speed of sound (343 m/sec). Documented testing has shown risk of this transition occurs in relatively short distances — 40 duct  diameters for vapors, 80 duct diameters for dusts. Few explosion protection measures are designed to withstand the effects of a detonation.


The risk and effects of flame propagation are recognized by NFPA in a number of standards related to dealing with explosion risks, such as NFPA 68 and NFPA 654 [2,3]. Section 7.1.6.1 of NFPA 654-2013 states: “Where an explosion hazard exists, isolation devices shall be provided to prevent deflagration propagation between connected equipment in accordance with NFPA 69, Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems.” In addition, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program CPL 03-00-008 [4] identifies the lack of explosion isolation as a citable offense under its GeneralDuty Clause.

Explosion Isolation

Explosion isolation devices prevent a deflagration in a process vessel from propagating through a connection such as a duct, chute or conveyor to other equipment where it could cause subsequent explosions. The devices work by decoupling the flame propagation and pressure piling between connected equipment. A number of different explosion isolation techniques are recognized as suitable by NFPA 69. These isolation techniques generally are categorized as either active or passive.

Active Explosion Isolation. An active system includes detection components and a control unit as well as the isolation device itself. Detection is performed by either pressure-activated explosion detectors, radiant-energy flame detectors or a combination of these. During an incipient deflagration, the pressure wave is traveling much faster than the flame front, so for energetic deflagrations, pressure-activated detectors will be most useful. This style of detector comes either as a static or fixed-set-point unit, or a dynamic or rate-of-pressure-rise detector. For less energetic explosions that potentially may take a longer time to sense the pressure rise (such as with low KST dust hazards in larger volumes), the rate of pressure increase is relatively low, so a radiant-energy detection device such as an infrared detector positioned near the mouth of the duct often will spot the deflagration faster than a pressure sensor can. Once detection is achieved with either style device, a signal goes to the  control unit.
The control unit then activates the isolation device. In addition, as required by NFPA 69, the control unit will have the process controller shut down any equipment that moves product or air through the protected volume.





The active isolation devices are either chemical or mechanical in nature. A chemical isolation device works by rapidly discharging a chemical extinguishing agent, such as sodium bicarbonate, into connecting ductwork to mitigate flame propagation (Figure 2). This is done through a pressurized  extinguisher mounted directly to the interconnecting duct. Mechanical isolation options include a high-speed gate valve (Figure 3). Milliseconds after the valve’s detectors sense explosion pressure or  flame, the controls rapidly deploy a mechanical barrier — closing the valve’s gate across the connecting ductwork. Due to their cost, high-speed isolation gate valves are most commonly used in applications where the deflagration dust threat involves a high-value product such as a  pharmaceutical dust that can’t tolerate contamination from dry chemical extinguishants.

Determining where the active isolation barrier should be located requires consideration of a number of factors, including the explosivity characteristics of the dust, size of the duct, detection  methodology, reaction time of the isolation device to fully create a barrier, and the reduced pressure in the source vessel. Computer modeling often uses these parameters to determine minimum and maximum isolation barrier locations for each specific application.

Passive Explosion Isolation. A variety of passive devices can mitigate flame propagation. NFPA 69 lists the following options as suitable:

1. flame front diverters;
2. passive float valves;
3. passive flap valves;
4. material chokes (rotary valves);
5. static dry flame arresters;
6. hydraulic-type (liquid seal) flame arresters; and
7. liquid product flame arresters.


Deflagration pressure activates the first three devices. Flame front diverters reroute the flame front to atmosphere through an opening such as a rupture disc or explosion door to minimize flame from passing through. These devices only are suitable for use outdoors in an orientation that enables safe flame ejection. Because they redirect but don’t completely block flame passage, flame front diverters can’t serve as the only means of isolation if the design intent is to completely stop flame propagation (NFPA 69-2014 12.2.1.5).


Passive float valves have internal valve plugs that can move axially within their housings (Figure 4). If an explosion occurs, the pressure wave in advance of the flame front will push and lock the valve against the internal housing, creating a mechanical barrier. These valves can be single direction or bidirectional. They typically are used only for light dust loading applications.



Passive flap valves are mounted on the horizontal inlet of the protected vessel, with an interior flap plate held open by the process airflow (Figure 5). When a deflagration occurs, the pressure preceding the flame front causes the internal flap plate to close, creating a mechanical barrier to stop flame propagation upstream. A latching mechanism is required to prevent “bounce” that could allow flame to pass. These devices also must have continuous monitoring for any dust accumulation that may  occur, except when there’s a documented risk assessment and appropriate internal inspection protocol and frequency that has been approved by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).


Each of these passive isolation methods requires testing and certification of suitability for its use as an explosion isolation device by a recognized testing organization acceptable to the AHJ.


A rotary valve intended for use as an explosion isolation valve must meet certain criteria as listed in NFPA 69. These include design strength suitable for the explosion pressures that could be reached, a minimum of six vanes diametrically opposed, with at least two vanes on each side of the housing in a position of minimum clearance at all times, metallic construction unless otherwise tested and, to ensure no flame passage, external bearings as well as a maximum allowable gap between the internal flights and housing of 0.2 mm.

The last three passive isolation devices — static dry flame arresters, hydraulic-type (liquid seal) flame arresters and liquid product flame arresters — are used specifically for combustible vapor applications and are not to be used for combustible dust explosion propagation threats. NFPA 69-2014 Sections 12.2.5, 12.2.6 and 12.2.7provide prescriptive requirements for the use and limitations of these devices.




Every explosion isolation method, whether active or passive, needs routine maintenance. NFPA 69 requires inspection at 3-month intervals. This frequency can be modified based on documented operating experience and hazard analysis, with approval of the AHJ and the explosion-prevention-system designer. Inspection records must be kept on file for a minimum of 3 years.


Changes to the process can significantly impact the effectiveness of the explosion isolation method. Some factors that could compromise the explosion isolation system include a change in equipment, product, operating temperature or pressure, process flow or air flow. It is critical to develop and adhere to a robust management-of-change policy for assessing changes to the process or product that could potentially undermine the ability of the explosion isolation method to perform as originally designed.

Selecting An Isolated Method

Determining a suitable isolation method for a given application requires consideration of a number of factors — including the type of combustible material being handled, the material’s propensity for caking or deposits, the impact of product contamination after isolation, initial cost and ease of maintenance. Table 1 gives a snapshot of several key parameters for some isolation methods.


Passive protection often is an attractive option. For vessels with single, smaller-diameter ducts requiring isolation, it’s generally the least expensive choice, both in initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs. Post-explosion refurbishment usually is less costly and simpler than for active systems. Moreover, plant personnel typically can perform routine inspection of most passive isolation methods. When considering passive isolation for new applications, discuss its suitability with an explosion protection professional before finalizing on plant component layouts. Duct orientation, dust loading, airflow and pressure drop will impact the efficacy of using passive devices for explosion isolation.


Active explosion isolation usually is a more flexible choice than passive because it can be installed on ducts regardless of orientation or dust loading. The explosivity limitations for active systems generally are much broader than those for passive systems. In addition, because active systems provide no internal obstructions during normal operation, they don’t pose pressure drop concerns. The initial cost for active isolation often is more than that for passive isolation; the comparison is very application-specific and depends upon factors such as process configuration and duct size. Active systems typically require more extensive maintenance than that needed for passive barriers, because more components — the detection devices, control unit and the isolation barrier (chemical or valve) — must be inspected.


All isolation methods have limitations. So, it’s critical that the isolation method has been tested and approved for the parameters of the particular installation. Work with an experienced explosion protection professional to determine an explosion isolation strategy that’s best suited for your application.





DAVID GRANDAW is vice president, sales, for IEP Technologies, Marlborough, Mass. Email him at David.Grandaw@IEPTechnologies.com.


REFERENCES
  1. “NFPA 69: Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems,” 2014 ed., National Fire Protection Assn., Quincy, Mass. (2014).
  2. “NFPA 68: Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting,” 2013 ed., National Fire Protection Assn., Quincy, Mass. (2013).
  3. “NFPA 654: Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids,” 2013 ed., National Fire Protection Assn., Quincy, Mass. (2013).
  4. “Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program,” CPL 03-00-008, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Admin., Washington, D.C. (2008).