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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grain Dust Explosion

Dust Explosion Injures 4


Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:20am
FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Flames from welding equipment touched off a grain-dust explosion at a Nestlé Purina plant in Flagstaff Sunday, burning two workers severely and leaving two others with less serious burns, authorities said.

The four contractors were welding about 5 p.m. on the fifth floor of the complex's seven-story grain elevator when their torches sparked grain dust and set off the blast, Flagstaff Fire Department Capt. Bill Morse said.

One man was severely burned and taken by air ambulance to the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, and another man with severe burns was transported by ground ambulance to the same center, Morse said.

A third man suffered moderate burns and was taken to the Flagstaff Medical Center, while another man with less serious burns was treated and released from the center, Morse said.

The explosion did not produce a long-lasting fire but it blew out metal doors at the front of the grain elevator, said Morse. He said he did not know the name of the contracting company for which the men worked.

Other parts of the Nestlé Purina complex were unaffected by the explosion, Morse said.

On weekends, production is halted in the complex's grain elevator so workers can carry out  maintenance projects, he said.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration website says grain dust is the main source of fuel for explosions in grain handling.


Monday, September 15, 2014

OSHA’s Increased Enforcement of Facilities with Combustible Dusts Hazards | The National Law Review





OSHA’s Increased Enforcement of Facilities with Combustible Dusts Hazards

Monday, September 8, 2014

CSB Investigation Warns of Dust Explosion Risk at Recycling Facilities

VIDEO: CSB Investigation Warns of Dust Explosion Risk at Recycling Facilities from Waste Management World


VIDEO: CSB Investigation Warns of Dust Explosion Risk at Recycling Facilities





VIDEO: CSB Investigation Warns of Dust Explosion Risk at Recycling Facilities



The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released its final report, safety recommendations and accompanying safety video into a fatal combustible dust explosion at the AL Solutions metal recycling facility in New Cumberland, West Virginia.

As presented to the Board for a vote at a public meeting in Charleston, the report reiterates a recommendation that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgate a general industry combustible dust standard, which CSB said it has been calling for since its 2006 study on these preventable accidents.

The December 9, 2010 accident at the AL Solutions metal recycling facility, which milled and processed scrap titanium and zirconium metal, killed three employees and injured a contractor.
The CSB said that the incident is one of nine serious combustible dust incidents investigated by the CSB since 2003. These explosions and fires caused 36 deaths and 128 injuries.

According to the CSB’s report, most solid organic materials, as well as many metals, will explode if the particles are small enough, and they are dispersed in a sufficient concentration within a confined area, near an ignition source.

The report emphasised to industry that even seemingly small amounts of accumulated combustible dust can cause catastrophic damage.

The CSB investigation determined that AL Solutions experienced a history of fatal dust fires and explosions.

A newly developed CSB safety video entitled ‘Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed’ details the process of milling and blending metal powder at the facility which was then pressed into dense disk called ‘compacts’.

“The CSB learned that the AL Solutions facility had fatal fires and explosions involving metal dust in 1995 and 2006 in addition to the 2010 explosion. Also, from 1993 until the accident in 2010, there were at least seven fires that required responses from the local fire department,” explained investigator Mark Wingard.

Around 1:20 pm on 9 December 2010, CSB said that a spark or hot-spot from the blender likely ignited the zirconium powder inside. The resulting flash fire lofted the metal dust particles in the blender, forming a burning metal dust cloud.

The cloud ignited other combustible dust within the production building, causing a secondary explosion that ripped through the plant, killing three workers and injuring a contract employee.

“Preventable combustible dust explosions continue to occur, causing worker deaths and injuries. The CSB believes it is imperative for OSHA to  issue a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry with clear control requirements to prevent dust fires and explosions,” commented chairperson Rafael Moure-Eras.

In presenting the findings of the case study, CSB’s lead investigator, Johnnie Banks, said: “As the metals were broken down during milling, the risk of a metal dust fire or explosion increased as the metal particles decreased in size.

“At AL Solutions a metal blender used to process zirconium was having mechanical problems that had not been adequately repaired. As a result, the blender was producing heat or sparks due to metal-to-metal contact.”

Investigator Wingard added: “The National Fire Protection Association Standard for Combustible Metals, called NFPA 484, recommends specific practices for controlling metal dust, but AL Solutions did not voluntarily follow those guidelines, and there are no federal OSHA standards to enforce similar requirements.

“In its 2006 Combustible Dust Hazard Study, the CSB recommended that OSHA issue a combustible dust standard for general industry based on the current NFPA guidelines.”

The CSB’s report and video encourage industry to take action to prevent combustible dust incidents.  In July 2013, the CSB identified its 2006 recommendation to develop a combustible dust standard as the first issue in its ‘Most Wanted Chemical Safety Improvement’ outreach program.

According to Moure-Eraso, had a national standard for combustible dust been in place in 2006 – and if industry had followed the requirements – many of the severe dust incidents that followed, including AL Solutions, may have been prevented.

“The time is now for OSHA to take action to prevent these tragic accidents,” he urged.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
More on this story and accompanying video can be seen in WMW’s weekly newscast below.


Read More

VIDEO: Huge Fire Destroys Chemical Recycling Facility in Leeds, UK
An investigation into a huge fire which was tackled by over 100 firefighters at a chemical recycling facility in Leeds, UK is underway.

Fire Detection: Tracking the Source
For waste and recycling facilities, fire is a huge danger. Detecting fire hazards before a fire breaks out, and quickly fighting the potential source of fire in a targeted manner can potentially save millions in revenue. Fire protection systems which use infrared thermography can offer significant advantages. By Dr Jörg Lantzsch.

VIDEO: New Fire Suppression System for Waste and Recycling Mobile Equipment
Tyco Fire Protection Products (TFPP) has launched a fire suppression system aimed at mobile equipment operating in harsh environments such as the waste and recycling industry.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Industry-led Manufacturers Advisory Group seeks to reduce Combustible Dust Explosions

Group seeks to reduce explosions


Industry-led Manufacturers Advisory Group (MAG) has the goal of providing the industry with a better understanding of (and improved ability to manage the risks created by) combustible wood dust.

by Treena Hein | Jun 2014


As a result of BC Safety Authority (BCSA)’s investigations into the Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills sawmill explosions in 2012, it issued a safety order in 2013 to over 400 wood processing facilities in B.C. that may have equipment installed in locations deemed hazardous because of the potential presence of combustible dust.

As a result of BC Safety Authority (BCSA)’s investigations into the Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills sawmill explosions in 2012, it issued a safety order in 2013 to over 400 wood processing facilities in B.C. that may have equipment installed in locations deemed hazardous because of the potential presence of combustible dust. 

June 10, 2014 - The British Columbia forestry sector saw two dust explosions at sawmills in 2012, and in each explosion, two people were killed and others were injured. These terrible events spurred the creation of an industry-led Manufacturers Advisory Group (MAG), which has the goal of  providing the industry with a better understanding of (and improved ability to manage the risks created by) combustible wood dust.

The MAG task force created an ‘auditable standard’ that can be used to provide independent assurance of mill safety, explains James Gorman, president and CEO of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries (COFI). A mill’s equipment, systems and processes are audited from a wood dust mitigation and control perspective – with input from employees, supervisors, management and others on site. The physical scope of the audit extends from raw material handling areas through to loading and shipping. It also includes the development of action plans and follow-up.


Early this year, B.C. government Minister Shirley Bond (Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour) warned sawmill owners that they must comply with new dust control regulations or they will face consequences. The regulations (which the MAG auditable standard tool helps companies comply with) require that there be less than 1/8 inch of dust on no more than five per cent of any given work area.


The Minister’s actions were in response to a WorksafeBC report on dust safety in sawmills issued in February. Between November 2013 and January 2014, WorksafeBC inspected 144 mills and found that only 83 of them were in compliance with regulations at the time of inspection. A new round of inspections commenced in April.


Gorman notes that companies have had the MAG audit tool available to them since January to measure their own performance relative to dust control before a WorkSafeBC inspector arrives. However, sign-up for the tool has been poor so far: only 55 of 144 sawmills have signed up, and
those 55 are all MAG members.


Gorman does not speculate as to why some companies have not yet adopted the tool. He notes that COFI is in the process of making sign-up a requirement for membership, but that there is: “a huge number of independent companies out there that don’t belong to associations.” 


“Industry organizations like COFI are encouraging large and small operators across the province to fully commit to adopting the audit tool,” he explains. “MAG members – who represent about 75 per cent of lumber processing in B.C. – are also encouraging other companies to fully implement the tool in their operations, and some are extending it to their operations outside of Canada. We have made all of the associated materials available on the WorksafeBC website to anyone in the industry.” Gorman expects more companies to begin using the tool as the year progresses.


United front
On March 28, a meeting about dust safety was held in B.C. A cross-section of industry associations including COFI, some independent lumber manufacturers, organized labour representatives and WorkSafeBC staff met with Minister Bond as well as the Minister of Forest and Range to develop a joint work plan to ensure all companies meet the government’s dust control regulation.


A joint press release was issued afterwards, which Gorman considers important because it shows a united front from those in attendance. It states, “We had a frank and open discussion on sustainable compliance at this meeting and the result is an aggressive co-ordinated plan to accomplish a number of specific outcomes in the next 90 days.” For example, a team of technical experts established by industry and supported by WorkSafeBC will be created to help all mills with compliance.


Additionally, at organized labour’s request, the joint work plan includes a review of the MAG audit tool by all parties to evaluate it as an enforceable standard. WorkSafeBC has agreed to lead that analysis moving forward.


Sawmill employers, organized labour and WorkSafeBC will also launch an awareness campaign about the rights of workers to refuse unsafe work. A toolbox kit relating to this topic will be provided by WorkSafeBC toemployers and health and safety representatives in all sawmills.

Inspections and compliance
Before the meeting on March 28th, we asked WorkSafeBC what strategies it is using to achieve regulatory compliance among sawmills, and how close it is to shutting down mills because they do not have adequate dust control. WorkSafeBC’s Senior Media Manager Trish Knight Chernecki directed us to a statement, which explains that “where prevention officers find issues that can cause an unsafe environment for workers, officers will educate and consult, and as necessary, write orders to oblige the employer to address those safety issues. As required, WorkSafeBC may also apply administrative penalties.”


As mentioned above, from November 2013 to January 2014, WorkSafeBC found that only 83 of the 144 inspected locations were in full compliance. The organization notes that many of those locations had dust control plans incorporating significant engineering controls to augment and mitigate the amount of manual dust cleanup required. Gorman confirms that sawmill companies have spent millions on better dust control since the tragedies in 2012.


Over the inspection period, WorkSafeBC handed out 93 orders related to combustible dust, most for unacceptable levels of dust accumulation outside normal production areas (for example, basements, crawl spaces, overhead areas, areas hidden behind motor control centres or cabinets and outside areas). The organization handed out 13 stop-work orders relating to unacceptable accumulations of secondary dust and other significant violations, which posed an immediate hazard to the health and safety of workers. However, WorkSafeBC states that: “In most cases, the areas noted were cleaned the same day, allowing production to resume by the next shift. These locations are subject to frequent ongoing inspections to ensure compliance is maintained while mill operators address the challenges noted.”


“Two locations inspected during the initiative received a second stop-work order and have been directed to participate in a closely-monitored compliance plan that includes weekly submissions to WorkSafeBC prevention officers regarding their dust management process. Officers are inspecting these locations at an increased frequency during this monitored phase to ensure the workplaces remain in compliance with WorkSafeBC requirements and expectations.”


There were 17 warning letters given out during this inspection phase. “Warning letters and penalties are tools used by officers, as necessary, to motivate certain employers to comply,” says WorkSafeBC.


As part of the ‘joint work plan’ created at the March 28th meeting, WorkSafeBC will double the size of the designated inspection team to 20 and launch further sawmill inspections (‘Phase 4’ of its inspection initiative in this sector). The focus of this phase will be on companies which have been found to be out of compliance, but all sawmills will be included.


In addition, WorkSafeBC will continue to review its Occupational Health and Safety Policy with a focus, at this stage, on high-risk violations and the consequences for non-compliance. The elements that can lead to a dust explosion will be included.


Gorman is positive about all that is happening in relation to dust in B.C.’s sawmills. “Government, industry, and safety authorities are working closely together to address the risk of combustible wood dust,” he says. “The necessary steps are being taken to achieve sustained compliance with the regulations.”

Wood Processing Plants Continue to Fail Regulatory Inspections

WPAC - Lack of concern - from Canadian Biomass Magazine


Despite dust explosion tragedies, many mills fail inspections.


Written by Gordon Murray

  
It has been more than two years since the January and April 2012 explosions that destroyed the Babine and Lakeland sawmills in central British Columbia, tragically killing four workers, injuring forty-four more, and putting hundreds out of work.

Investigations by WorkSafe BC (WSBC) and BC Safety Authority (BCSA) determined that both explosions were preventable, having been caused by ineffective control of combustible dust. Each mill was cutting beetle-killed pine, which produces a considerably greater volume of wood dust and much finer dust than from cutting green wood. Suspended dust, confined space, oxygen, and an ignition source combined to cause both explosions. Regulators and forest industry leadership responded swiftly and aggressively.

WSBC developed a combustible dust strategy to cover all categories of wood processing plants. Their strategy included reminding employers of their obligations under the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation and advancing a combustible dust management program for employers, consisting of facility risk assessment, development of a combustible dust management plan and employee training. WSBC issued orders for all employers to clean combustible dust in their plants and followed with four successive phases of inspections to assess compliance.

Similarly, BCSA (administrator of the Safety Standards Act) issued a safety order regarding combustible dust to 403 active and inactive sawmills, pulp and paper mills, pellet mills, remanufacturing mills, and other wood processors. Forest industry leaders formed the Manufacturers’ Advisory Group (MAG) to focus on industry efforts with respect to combustible dust. MAG engaged FPInnovations to improve industry’s understanding of dust sampling, analysis and explosibility and to provide an analysis of how to apply National Fire Protection Association standards to wood processing plants. MAG also developed a dust audit tool and set about organizing workshops and other educational resources for industry members. WSBC, BCSA, MAG, the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner, and the Steelworkers Union formed the Fire Inspection and Prevention Initiative to enable multi-stakeholder cooperation and to provide management and worker training.

Yet, given the experience of the Babine and Lakeland tragedies, it is extremely distressing that a significant number of wood processing plants (including pellet plants) continue to fail regulatory inspections. BCSA reported in March that 34 per cent of plants failed their safety inspections due to inadequate dust management plans; dust accumulations adjacent to electrical and gas equipment; lack of understanding of the level of dust that is hazardous; and poor housekeeping.

Similarly, fully 61 of 144 employer locations were not in regulatory compliance during WSBC’s third phase of inspection and 93 orders were issued in relation to combustible dust. Most orders were for “unacceptable levels of dust accumulations outside normal production areas; i.e. basements, crawl spaces, overhead areas, areas hidden behind motor control centres or cabinets, and outside areas.”

While WSBC and BCSA acknowledge that many employers have made substantial progress at implementing systems and equipment to control combustible dust, the number of non-compliant employer locations is simply unacceptable. Surely employers must understand by now the catastrophic consequences of a dust explosion and the means of prevention. It is beyond comprehension that combustible dust remains a crisis issue to be solved.

Recently, B.C. Crown prosecutors announced their intention not to pursue criminal charges relating to the Babine or Lakeland explosions. This caused a wave of public protest putting the B.C. government and WSBC under extreme pressure to prevent such injuries and loss of life from ever happening again. Yet, a substantial portion of our industry remains non-compliant with respect to combustible dust and the risk of another mill explosion remains substantial. And now, given our experience and
all we have learned, the consequences would be unimaginable.

For more on combustible dust and the new regulations, go to http://www.woodbusiness.ca/harvesting/dust-control .


Gordon Murray is executive director of the Wood Pellet Association
of Canada. He encourages all those who want to support and benefit from
the growth of the Canadian wood pellet industry to join. Gordon welcomes
all comments and can be contacted by telephone at 250-837-8821 or by
email at
gord@pellet.org.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

NFPA Standards- a viable solution to reduce combustible dust accidents

NFPA Standards- a viable solution to reduce combustible dust accidents

From the National Fire Protection Association Blog



Imperial
Chemical Safety Board (CSB)
Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso wrote an opinion piece, which appeared in Saturday’s New York Times
where he chronicled a number of horrific manufacturing accidents inrecent years that had significant fatalities and worker injuries. All

were attributed to combustible dust. The most recent example was an explosion in a metal products factory in China this month that claimed the lives of 75 people and injured 185. He voiced his frustration about a lack of action to prevent these tragedies.


I share his frustration for two reasons. First, while combustible dust is a normal by-product of the manufacturing process for a variety of items, if it is effectively managed it will reduce deaths and injuries should a fire or explosion occur. Second, NFPA codes and standards provide the means to manage combustible dust but are not being adopted and/or enforced to the extent they should be.


NFPA has published fire protection standards for various solids processing industries that
generate combustible dusts, for over 70 years. The similar fundamental approach exists within our standards today to that first established in the 1920's - limit the generation and release of the combustible dust (fuel side of fire triangle), identify and control ignition sources, and if an explosion still occurs, limit its spread by construction, isolation, housekeeping and explosion prevention methods (like suppression).


Over the years investigations by CSB concluded that if existing NFPA standards had been followed incidents would have not occurred or certainly results mitigated. The issue was further highlighted in a CSB comprehensive dust study in 2006 showing the problem was more than an isolated series of events and continued to call on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop federal standards and initiate increased inspections.


OSHA did initiate the National Emphasis Program (NEP), which includes policies and procedures for inspecting workplaces that create or handle combustible dusts. The NEP states that NFPA combustible dust standards should be consulted to obtain evidence of hazard recognition and feasible abatement methods.  Unfortunately, the movement to establish the mandatory regulation of combustible dust in all industries has stalled.


NFPA combustible dust standards are included in fire codes; so, in theory, our standards are referenced and adopted; but awareness within segments of the industry lags and overall enforcement is inconsistent.  OSHA should initiate the process to adopt NFPA standards as the national standards.


Standards developed through NFPA’s voluntary consensus process provide a practical, cost-effective solution for better fire, life and electric safety. There is a long history of government agencies and jurisdictions on all levels adopting privately developed standards. 
These standards then must be enforced. It takes the complete package – develop, adopt, enforce - to better protect individuals and property from hazards, including fires and explosions from combustible dusts.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Final report on AL Solutions metal dust explosion and fire that killed three in West Virginia

Final report on AL Solutions metal dust explosion and fire that killed three in West Virginia - Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue from the Hemming Group Ltd

Final report on AL Solutions metal dust explosion and fire that killed three in West Virginia

Published:  18 July, 2014
CSB renews call for OSHA combustible dust standard and releases safety video on the accident.

The US Chemical Safety Board’s report reiterates a recommendation that OSHA promulgate a general industry combustible dust standard, something the agency has been calling for since its definitive 2006 study on these preventable accidents.

The December 9, 2010 accident at the facility that milled and processed scrap titanium and zirconium metal killed three employees and injured a contractor.  The incident at the facility in New Cumberland, West Virginia, is one of nine serious combustible dust incidents investigated by the CSB since 2003. These explosions and fires caused 36 deaths and 128 injuries.

Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “Preventable combustible dust explosions continue to occur, causing worker deaths and injuries. The CSB believes it is imperative for OSHA to  issue a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry with clear control requirements to prevent dust fires and explosions.”

The CSB’s report notes that most solid organic materials, as well as many metals, will explode if the particles are small enough, and they are dispersed in a sufficient concentration within a confined
area, near an ignition source, and it emphasizes to industry that even seemingly small amounts of accumulated combustible dust can cause catastrophic damage.

The CSB investigation determined that AL Solutions experienced a history of fatal dust fires and explosions. Investigator Mark Wingard explained, “The CSB learned that the AL Solutions facility had fatal fires and explosions involving metal dust in 1995 and 2006 in addition to the 2010 explosion. Also, from 1993 until the accident in 2010, there were at least seven fires that required responses from the local fire department.”

A newly developed CSB safety video entitled “Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed” details the process of milling and blending metal powder at the facility which was then pressed into dense disk called “compacts.” The video includes a 3D computer generated animation which shows how the accident unfolded at the plant.

In presenting the findings of the case study, CSB Lead Investigator Johnnie Banks explained, “As the metals were broken down during milling, the risk of a metal dust fire or explosion increased as the metal particles decreased in size. At AL Solutions a metal blender used to process zirconium was having mechanical problems that had not been adequately repaired. As a result, the blender was producing heat or sparks due to metal-to-metal contact.”

Around 1:20 pm on December 9, 2010, a spark or hot-spot from the blender likely ignited the zirconium powder inside. The resulting flash fire lofted the metal dust particles in the blender, forming a burning metal dust cloud.

The cloud ignited other combustible dust within the production building, causing a secondary explosion that ripped through the plant, killing three workers and injuring a contract employee.

Investigator Mark Wingard said, “The National Fire Protection Association Standard for Combustible Metals, called NFPA 484, recommends specific practices for controlling metal dust, but AL Solutions did not voluntarily follow those guidelines, and there are no federal OSHA standards to enforce similar requirements.  In its 2006 Combustible Dust Hazard Study, the CSB recommended that OSHA issue a combustible dust standard for general industry based on the current NFPA guidelines.”

The CSB’s report and video encourage industry to take action to prevent combustible dust incidents.  In July 2013, the CSB identified its 2006 recommendation to develop a combustible dust standard as the first issue in its “Most Wanted Chemical Safety Improvement” outreach program.

As Chairperson Moure-Eraso says in the video, “Had a national standard for combustible dust been in place in 2006 – and if industry had followed the requirements – many of the severe dust incidents that
followed, including AL Solutions, may have been prevented. The time is now for OSHA to take action to prevent these tragic accidents.”

Read the full report here.

Chemical Safety Board releases report on dust explosion

Chemical Safety Board releases report on dust explosion incident

Chemical Safety Board releases report on dust explosion incident

dust explosion chemical combusitbleThe U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB),
an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial
chemical accidents, has released its final report, safety
recommendations and an accompanying safety video in regard to a fatal
combustible dust explosion that occurred at AL Solutions’ metal recycling facility in New Cumberland, West Virginia, in late 2010.

The report reiterates a recommendation that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgate a general industry combustibledust standard, something the agency has been calling for since its 2006study on what the board says are preventable accidents.

The Dec. 9, 2010, explosion at the West Virginia facility, a miller and processer of scrap titanium and zirconium metal, killed three employees and injured one contractor.

The CSB says the West Virginia incident is one of nine serious combustible dust incidents that it has investigated since 2003. In total, the explosions and fires caused 36 deaths and 128 injuries.

Rafael Moure-Eraso, CSB chairman, says, “Preventable combustible dust explosions continue to occur, causing worker deaths and injuries. The CSB believes it is imperative for OSHA to issue a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry with clear control requirements to prevent dust fires and explosions.”

The CSB report notes that most solid organic materials, as well as many metals, will explode if the particles are small enough and are dispersed in a sufficient concentration within a confined area, near an ignition source. The CSB report emphasizes that even small amounts of accumulated
combustible dust can cause catastrophic damage.

The CSB investigation also determined that AL Solutions experienced a history of fatal dust fires and explosions.

Mark Wingard, a CSB investigator, says, “The CSB learned that the AL Solutions facility had fatal fires and explosions involving metal dust in 1995 and 2006 in addition to the 2010 explosion. Also, from 1993 until the accident in 2010, there were at least seven fires that required responses from the local fire department.”

The CSB also has produced a safety video titled “Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed,” which details the process of milling and blending metal powder at the facility, which is pressed into dense disks called “compacts.” The video includes a 3-D computer generated animation showing how the accident unfolded at the plant.

In presenting the findings of the study, Johnnie Banks, CSB lead investigator, says, “As the metals were broken down during milling, the risk of a metal dust fire or explosion increased as the metal particles decreased in size. At AL Solutions a metal blender used to process zirconium was having mechanical problems that had not been adequately repaired. As a result, the blender was producing heat or sparks due to metal-to-metal contact.”

Wingard adds, “The National Fire Protection Association Standard for Combustible Metals, called NFPA 484, recommends specific practices for controlling metal dust, but AL Solutions did not voluntarily follow those guidelines, and there are no federal OSHA standards to enforce similar requirements. In its 2006 Combustible Dust Hazard Study, the CSB recommended that OSHA issue a combustible dust standard for general industry based on the current NFPA guidelines.”

In the video, Moure-Eraso says, “Had a national standard for combustible dust been in place in 2006—and if industry had followed the requirements—many of the severe dust incidents that followed, including AL Solutions, may have been prevented. The time is now for OSHA to take
action to prevent these tragic accidents.”

The CSB does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Combustible Dust: Safety Videos

Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed - Safety Videos - Multimedia | from the the U.S. Chemical Safety Board



CSB - U.S. CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD -- An independent federal agency investigating chemical accidents to protect workers, the public, and the environment
Final Report on AL Solutions Metal Dust Explosion and Fire that Killed Three in West Virginia Leads CSB to Reemphasize Call for OSHA Combustible Dust Standard  
 CSB Releases Safety Video on Accident, “Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed”

Charleston, WV, July 16, 2014 – Today the US Chemical Safety Board released its final report, safety recommendations and accompanying safety video into a fatal combustible dust explosion at the AL Solutions Interior photo of AL Solutions Following 2010 Fatal Accident metal recycling facility in New Cumberland, West Virginia. As presented to the Board for a vote at a public meeting in Charleston today, the report reiterates a recommendation that OSHA promulgate a general industry combustible dust standard, something the agency has been calling for since its definitive 2006 study on these preventable accidents.
CLICK HERE to VIEW VIDEO
CLICK HERE to VIEW FINAL REPORT
The December 9, 2010 accident at the facility that milled and processed scrap titanium and zirconium metal killed three employees and injured a contractor.  The incident is one of nine serious combustible dust incidents investigated by the CSB since 2003. These explosions and fires caused 36 deaths and 128 injuries.

Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “Preventable combustible dust explosions continue to occur, causing worker deaths and injuries. The CSB believes it is imperative for OSHA to  issue a comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry with clear control requirements to prevent dust fires and explosions.”

The CSB’s report notes that most solid organic materials, as well as many metals, will explode if the particles are small enough, and they are dispersed in a sufficient concentration within a confined area, near an ignition source, and it emphasizes to industry that even seemingly small amounts of accumulated combustible dust can cause catastrophic damage.
The CSB investigation determined that AL Solutions experienced a history of fatal dust fires and explosions. Investigator Mark Wingard explained, “The CSB learned that the AL Solutions facility had fatal fires and explosions involving metal dust in 1995 and 2006 in addition to the 2010 explosion. Also, from 1993 until the accident in 2010, there were at least seven fires that required responses from the local fire department.”

A newly developed CSB safety video entitled “Combustible Dust: Solutions Delayed” details the process of milling and blending metal powder at the facility which was then pressed into dense disk called “compacts.” The video includes a 3D computer generated animation which shows how the accident unfolded at the plant.

In presenting the findings of the case study, CSB Lead Investigator Johnnie Banks explained, “As the metals were broken down during milling, the risk of a metal dust fire or explosion increased as the metal particles decreased in size. At AL Solutions a metal blender used to process zirconium was having mechanical problems that had not been adequately repaired. As a result, the blender was producing heat or sparks due to metal-to-metal contact.”

Around 1:20 pm on December 9, 2010, a spark or hot-spot from the blender likely ignited the zirconium powder inside. The resulting flash fire lofted the metal dust particles in the blender, forming a burning metal dust cloud.

The cloud ignited other combustible dust within the production building, causing a secondary explosion that ripped through the plant, killing three workers and injuring a contract employee.

Investigator Mark Wingard said, “The National Fire Protection Association Standard for Combustible Metals, called NFPA 484, recommends specific practices for controlling metal dust, but AL Solutions did not voluntarily follow those guidelines, and there are no federal OSHA standards to enforce similar requirements.  In its 2006 Combustible Dust Hazard Study, the CSB recommended that OSHA issue a combustible dust standard for general industry based on the current NFPA guidelines.”
The CSB’s report and video encourage industry to take action to prevent combustible dust incidents.  In July 2013, the CSB identified its 2006 recommendation to develop a combustible dust standard as the first issue in its “Most Wanted Chemical Safety Improvement” outreach program.

As Chairperson Moure-Eraso says in the video, “Had a national standard for combustible dust been in place in 2006 – and if industry had followed the requirements – many of the severe dust incidents that followed, including AL Solutions, may have been prevented. The time is now for OSHA to take action to prevent these tragic accidents.”

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202-446-8094 or Sandy Gilmour, Public Affairs, cell 202-251-5496.


 
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spark Detection: Your First Line Of Defense


From Biomassmagazine.com


"the NFPA specifies in its Standard 664, paragraph A.8.6.2.2: “The spark extinguishing system should activate every time a single spark is detected.”



Spark Detection: Plant’s First Line Of Defense

Understanding the best application of infrared and heat detection sensors is important for effective control systems.


By Jeffrey C. Nichols | June 22, 2014

The National Fire Protection Association defines combustible dust as “A finely divided combustible particulate solid that presents a flash fire hazard or explosion hazard when suspended in air or the process-specific oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations.”  (NFPA 654, the Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions, 2013)


The key to preventing a catastrophic event is to install effective prevention technology for detecting all sparks and embers in the incipient stage in the process, and extinguishing or diverting sparks
before they ignite the transported material and dust.

Spark detection and extinguishing systems include detectors, control consoles and countermeasures like extinguishment or diverter gates.  If a spark occurs, the detector signals the control console, which records the event and triggers programmed countermeasures and interlocks, all within milliseconds. Typically, the control console activates atomized extinguishment for a programmed time to extinguish the hazard without affecting production.

Two general categories of spark detectors are sensors that detect spark energy in the visible and invisible near infrared range, and those that detect heat radiation, called black-body or hot particle
detectors.


Standard spark detectors are preferred for most applications to detect visible spark energy in the near infrared (IR) range and are effective for identifying ignition sources in the incipient stage. They
detect the infrared energy emitted by a spark, and can detect sparks and embers through material flow. A visible spark in the near infrared range can also be detected at much greater distance than heat.

Black-body heat detectors do not detect sparks or embers until they reach a minimum temperature in close proximity to the sensor. Heat radiation becomes harder to detect the farther the detector is from the source. Systems based only on heat detectors rely upon the theory that only particles above a certain temperature are dangerous and may miss sparks that when combined with proper conditions for combustion farther downstream may still result in a fire or explosion. Because of this, the
NFPA specifies in its Standard 664, paragraph A.8.6.2.2: “The spark extinguishing system should activate every time a single spark is detected.” Industry expert, Vahid Ebadat of Chilworth Technology Inc., a firm that investigates explosions, concurs, saying, “…the ‘bottom-line’
response to this question would be a suggestion to consider the above-quoted guidance from NFPA 664, and detect and extinguish every single spark” (see http://pbs.canon-experts.com/2011/08/).


Transitions and low-pressure pneumatic conveying systems with ambient air temperatures use standard IR spark detectors, flush mounted on opposite sides of the duct to detect sparks and embers through the material stream. For dryers or high-pressure conveying, IR spark detectors should be used containing features like the GreCon FM 3/8 that uses stainless steel clad fiber-optic cables to connect to the duct cross-sectional viewing area. Using fiber-optic cables protects the sensor electronics from the radiant heat of the transport or conveyor from a material dryer or other heat source.

Transitions where ambient light is present require a black-body radiation detector similar to the GreCon DLD 1/8 day light sensor. Black-body detectors are best suited for applications where there is ambient light present, such as drop chute transitions onto or from belt conveyors with detectors viewing through the cascading material on opposite sides of the chute. Multiple detectors versus one single detector provide redundancy and greatly reduce the material masking effect.

Never mount a detector with a lens protruding into the material flow. Depending on the type and size of material, this exposes the lens to abrasion that wears through the lens. These conditions affect the
sensor’s ability to function properly and make the system unreliable over the long-term.

A better way to achieve the required visibility, while reducing the exposure of the sensors to wear and tear, is to use sensors with flat lenses and mount them flush on opposite sides of the transport duct
where the material flow helps keep the lenses clean. Using IR detectors on either side of a duct has the benefit of ensuring redundant detection from different viewing angles throughout the cross-sectional area of the duct or transition.

Plant Application
A large biomass processing plant will use spark detectors in key locations. The wood pellet mill shown in the accompanying schematic has detectors at the output of the dryer, the hammermill, pellet press and cooler, as well as the conveying systems between each production process, and all dust collection systems. Control systems include atomized water extinguishment systems and fire dumps to remove burning materials. Other countermeasures can be interlocked, including deluge, abort gates, equipment shutdown or programmable logic controller actions.

Advanced multimicroprocessor control consoles can monitor and raise alarms on various hazardous conditions. Other instruments can detect smoke, rate of heat rise, combustion gas and flames. These advanced control consoles can also trigger multiple combinations of countermeasures from multiple detection zones and be set up for complex special configurations, if required.

When evaluating systems, industry professionals recognize Factory Mutual Approved equipment for the extensive testing that ensures it will reliably deliver on its promise. FM Approval certifies compliance with recognized standards.

Awareness is the key to fire and explosion prevention, and understanding spark detection technologies is the key to protecting material transport systems.

Author: Jeffrey C. Nichols
Managing Partner, Industrial Fire Prevention LLC
770-266-7223
info@IndustrialFirePrevention.com

Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Survive an OSHA Audit -- Occupational Health & Safety

How to Survive an OSHA Audit

From Occupational Health & Safety, OHSonlone.com

There are many records and written programs that OSHA does not specifically require to be in writing, but you should have them anyway.

How to Survive an OSHA Audit

There is no way to
avoid an OSHA audit, much as there is no way to avoid having a root
canal. But you can lessen the pain by being well-prepared.
"Hello. I'm from OSHA, and I am here to help you."

If you own or operate a business, chances are very good you've heard these dreaded words before. Next to, "Hello, I'm from the Internal Revenue Service," there are few greetings more inclined to make your knees weak. But it doesn't have to be that bad.

Even with the 7 million workplaces that it covers each year, OSHA
will most likely find its way to your location. When it does, here are
some tips to help you survive your OSHA audit.

Plan for an inspection by making sure you have three key items in place prior to the arrival of the OSHA compliance officer (CO):

1. A determination whether you will ask for a warrant

2. A form to document what occurs during the inspection

3. All pertinent documentation, such as written programs, training records, inspection records, etc.


We recommend you do not require the CO to obtain a warrant before
entry unless you need to gain time, such as when a manager or counsel
needs to be present. It is your legal right to ask for a warrant, but
this might trigger a stricter audit (and raise possible red flags). It's
wiser if you simply work with the inspector. Answer questions honestly
and fully, but don't offer additional information unless it will help
you avoid citations. Cooperate as long as the inspector remains ethical
and reasonable.

Be prepared. These inspections are without notice, so you will want
to have all information readily available in anticipation of an
impending audit. Here are some items to have prepared:
  • Assignment of responsibilities, to include a "greeting team" to meet the CO
  • Documented training logs
  • Recordkeeping
  • Equipment inspection records
  • Safety and health policies
  • Review of insurance and third-party audits
  • Hazard assessment and abatement
  • Review of previous audits and citations
It is also wise to have a form available to record the inspector's
actions and comments during the inspection. This information will help
you understand what transpired and will assist your attorney, should you
contest the citation or penalty. Items you should record on this form
include:
  • The inspector's name and office telephone number
  • The documents that the inspector reviewed and copied
  • The attendees at the opening and closing conferences
  • The areas that were inspected
  • The employees and union representatives who participated
  • The dates and times when the inspector was on site
Document Review

Almost all OSHA inspections begin with a review of written documents.
These documents include your injury and illness records, safety manual,
OSHA-required programs, OSHA-implied programs, safety procedures, and
training records.

There are many records and written programs that OSHA does not
specifically require to be in writing, but you should have them anyway.
These documents are referred to as OSHA-implied records. For example,
although OSHA requires every employer to conduct frequent ladder
inspections, there is no specific requirement to keep a written record
of ladder inspections. The written record in this case could be a log of
all ladders with initials and dates of inspection or a tag attached to
the ladder with spaces for the inspector to initial and date.

Just to get you used to what you're in store for, we'll walk through a mock OSHA audit:

1. The knock at the door. We recommend escorting the compliance
officer to your office or waiting area. This will give you time to
gather your documents and the "greeting team" to accompany the CO
through the inspection.

2. The opening conference. The officer will explain why OSHA selected
your workplace for inspection and describe the scope of the inspection.
Have your "greeting team" here to accompany the CO during the
inspection. Make sure you set ground rules for the inspection, get a
copy of the complaint if applicable, treat the CO in a professional
fashion, coordinate with on-site contractors and vendors, bring up any
trade secret issues you may have, but don't volunteer any information unless asked.

3. The walk-around/inspection. Make sure you have an employee
representative attend the entire inspection and take accurate notes on
areas reviewed and all discussions and comments from the CO, as well as
any photos, videos, air monitoring, etc. Keep in mind that whatever is
in the CO's sight is subject to inspection. But maintain control.
Remember, it's your facility and you have rights. Don't be bullied, but
also don't try to talk your way out of an apparent hazard. It will not
help and probably will make it worse. Above all, don't destroy evidence.
The CO also may want to interview employees; make sure to schedule
these away from your work area. It's up to your hourly employees whether
they want company representation during the interview. Advise the
employee of his/her rights, your appreciation of their cooperation, and
to tell the truth. Be aware that employees do have whistleblower rights.
As for management and supervisor interviews, always have another
management person/counsel present during the interview. If there is a
fatality investigation, your attorney always should be present. No tape
recording is permitted, and you will need a signed statement upon
completion.

4. The closing conference. During the closing conference, the CO will
review any apparent violations and discuss possible methods for
correcting the violations within a reasonable time period. The CO will
explain that the violations found may result in a citation and a
proposed financial penalty, then describe the employer's rights and
answer all questions. Remember, this is not a time for debate--the law
requires OSHA to issue citations for safety and health standards
violations. The citations include:
  • A description "with particularity" of the violation
  • The proposed penalty, if any
  • The date by which the hazard must be corrected
Citations are usually prepared at the local OSHA office and mailed to
the employer via certified mail. OSHA has up to six months to send a
Notice of Penalty. Employers have 15 working days upon receipt to file
an intention to contest OSHA citations and/or to request an informal
conference with the area director to discuss any citations issued.

Common causes to dispute citations include:
  • The citation is false.
  • The citation's dollar penalty is excessive.
  • You disagree with the citation's contention that the danger was real, serious, and that an accident was likely to occur.
  • The contention that you are responsible for causing the unsafe conditions.
Finally, contesting may not relieve you completely of a penalty, but
it may help you negotiate a lesser fine. Contesting is usually a good
idea. OSHA typically negotiates with employers to a lesser penalty
amount.

There is no way to avoid an OSHA audit, much as there is no way to
avoid having a root canal. But similarities aside, you can lessen the
pain by being well-prepared.


About the Author

Jim Rhoad is an Outsource Risk Manager with Ottawa
Kent Insurance in Jenison, Mich. He has experience in dealing with
worker’s compensation issues across all industries, including
construction and manufacturing. He can be reached at
Jrhoad@ottawakent.com.


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