Friday, December 17, 2010

Top 50 Risk Management Blogs

From Risk management Masters:

Risks can come from many directions, including legal, financial, disaster (natural or man made) and health, among other areas. The following top 50 risk management blogs looks at those areas and offers current information about management solutions for businesses across the spectrum. These blogs also look at various topics such as project management, technology, communications, safety and business continuity.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recent Industrial Fires in the News

U.S. Industrial Fires/Explosions in this weeks news:

VIDEO: Explosion at South Los Angeles Titanium Storage Warehouse for Golf Club Manufacturing | The Cardinal
LA Fire Dept spraying water on a titanium fire. Guess what happens next?

When exposed to elevated temperatures in air, titanium readily reacts with oxygen. This occurs at 1,200 °C (2,190 °F) in air, and at 610 °C (1,130 °F) in pure oxygen, forming titanium dioxide. As a result, the metal cannot be melted in open air since it burns before the melting point is reached. Melting is only possible in an inert atmosphere or in a vacuum.  Titanium can react explosively when contacted with water or even humid air.

Video: Fire destroys former Ethan Allen plant
Workers accidentally ignite blaze that levels the 220,000-square-foot.
Watch the video.

According to, state police fire marshals said fire was accidentally ignited by workers who were using torches inside the three-story building.

The Soy Energy plant was destroyed Saturday afternoon in a blaze that firefighters battled for 10 hours … continue
The Soy Energy plant was destroyed Saturday afternoon in a blaze that firefighters battled for 10 hours. The plant was closed at the time and no serious injuries were reported.  The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

The fire marshal and AL Solutions' insurers are bringing experts in explosions and various engineering specialties to the Northern Panhandle site … continue

Thursday, December 9, 2010

OSHA looks to expand authority without legislation

From Jacqui Fatka.

OSHA looks to expand authority without legislation

Jacqui Fatka
Coverage from the 2010 National Grain and Feed Assn. Country Elevator Meeting held in Indianapolis, Ind. Dec. 5-7. 

Now that the Democrats are no longer the controlling majority in the House, many of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) objectives can't be achieved though legislation. Moving forward, Jonathan Snare, partner in the labor and employment practice group for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Washington, D.C., said he expects OSHA to continue to implement as many policies as they can through non-legislative means.

Snare, a former OSHA administrator under the Bush administration, pointed out that many of the top officials including assistant secretary of labor for OSHA David Michaels and deputy assistant secretary Jordan Barab have no private sector work experience, take an anti-employer view, and aim to change behaviors by strict enforcement.

Because OSHA no longer has the support of the Congress, it will mold current law through writing stricter regulations or make new interpretations of existing OSHA standards.
The combustible dust issue is a perfect example of legislation dumped, but OSHA coming back and making a rule for it. Snare shared that interestingly Barab worked on Capitol Hill while the legislation was being drafted and now works at OSHA where the elements of the bill could be implemented in a regulation without a vote from Congress.

The combustible dust rulemaking started in 2008 after an explosion at an Imperial sugar plant. In October 2009, an advanced notice of rulemaking said the dust was a risk to the feed and grain industry and said that the 1/8 inch dust standard could go lower to 1/16 inch or 1/32 inch.
Another example of a hot issue in the grain industry is a letter of interpretation that OSHA released which prohibits an employee from working inside a bin while an unguarded sweep auger is in operation.

Paul Luther, environmental, health and safety manager at Land O' Lakes said that it isn't a regulation, but OSHA can interpret that letter as they desire. So far at least three citations have been given this past year.

The National Grain and Feed Assn. met with OSHA to review the letter in October. Out of the meeting, Luther stated the agency was made aware that sometimes a sweep auger can take an entire day to circle a bin, not at a speed of 10 mph as an example, which was a misconception of the agency.

"We're hoping for a response from OSHA probably early next year," Luther said. "We're not certain of what their solution will be, but many sweep augers just don't work unless you put someone in the bin with them."

Snare also stated another interpretation of existing OSHA standards that is being reinterpreted is the noise standard. For nearly 30 years, the enforcement policy allows an employer to satisfy hearing conservation if employees are given ear plugs, rather than investing in costly engineering changes to cut down noise. A new OSHA published document said it is now going to require employers to "spend money up until a point on engineering controls, maybe as far as bankruptcy or just short of going out of business" before allowing a company to implement ear plugs, Snare said.

What recourse does the industry have if OSHA goes beyond its bounds to match the Administration's policy desires?

Snare said if OSHA interprets law outside of their discretion, it could be challenged. If OSHA puts a proposed change out for comment, comments can be filed. Congress may also get involved. With a Republican-controlled House next year, it is expected there will be an additional amount of authority given to the new leaders to investigate and conduct oversight on the agencies.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Combustible Dust Case study from Allianz Risk Consulting

Case study from Allianz Risk Consulting

Explosion Hazard in a Starch Facility: Risk Management in Practice


Allianz Risk Consultants are trained to assess many different types of risk, including those that can pose a potential personal threat. Oftentimes, the nature of their work puts them in harm's way. Recently, Rod Greenwood, Senior Consulting Engineer, encountered just such a threat when conducting a tour of a National Starch facility in the US.

When Rod toured the plant on a recent visit, there was a coating of corn starch on just about everything in sight that was higher than 3 feet (1 m) from the floor.  Two "haze" areas were also found where corn starch suspended in the air made it difficult to see the wall on the other side of the room.

Rod realized that this plant posed a safety risk, as fires and explosions could result from the large amounts of corn starch dust.  For safety reasons, the tour was stopped and immediately recommendations for improvements at the plant were discussed.  Based on our engineering recommendations following this inspection, the severe explosion hazard presented by the accumulation of corn starch on overhead surfaces has been all but eliminated.


What is combustible dust?

  • A combustible particulate solid that presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations, regardless of particle size or shape.
  • Dusts traditionally have been defined as a material 420 μm or smaller (capable of passing through a U.S. No. 40 standard sieve).
  • Any time a combustible dust is processed or handled, a potential for deflagration exists. The degree of deflagration hazard varies, depending on the type of combustible dust and the processing methods used.
Dust is a serious matter: The smallest spark can cause an explosion in a dusty factory.

The situation

The tour began by visiting corn starch drying and packaging areas in the plant.  It quickly became obvious that good housekeeping was not a priority.  While the floors were clean in some areas, there was a coating of corn starch on just about everything higher than 3 feet  (1 m) from the floor.

In varying thickness, it had settled on sprinkler piping, building members, production equipment, racks, lights and conduit.  [The initial introduction was in the second floor packaging area of the east hopper (which was approximately 80 x 160 feet - 24.3 x 48.6 m). Additionally, upstairs in the 30 x 70 ft. (9.1 x 21.3 m) screen room, there was a consistent 0.25 inch (0.6 cm) accumulation on everything.

As the tour continued, Rod and the risk management team from the starch company came upon two "haze" areas, where the corn starch was suspended in air, making it difficult to see the wall on the other side of the room. The first area was in the 50 x 80 ft. (15.2 x 24.4 m) hose switch room below the hoppers. As it turned out, there was a rotary valve leak, and the corn starch was being dispersed into the air, completely filling the room.

The second haze area was in the 20 by 30 ft. (6.1 x 9.1 m) dry starch east slitter room. In both areas of these, there was an accumulation of up to 3 inches (7 cm) on the floor and a consistent accumulation of 0.5 to 1 inch (1.2-2.5 cm) on overhead horizontal surfaces. Rod quickly backed out of the room with a concern for his safety due to the explosion potential.

While the housekeeping in the plant was extremely poor and totally unacceptable, no circumstances of improper electrics, improper hot work, or other sources of ignition had been identified.  Even so, this situation still posed risk. Rod determined that it was no longer safe to continue the survey in this plant. The tour of the plant was then stopped.

The survey continued at another one of the national starch company's facilities. The initial impression of these buildings was positive as they were newer and therefore were assumed to be cleaner. However, when the group entered the line 4-5 mill room, the surge hopper and cyclone air room, the conditions worsened.  These areas are 20 x 50 ft. (6.1 x 15.2 m), located above one another and separated by open grated mezzanines. Here, the group encountered another "haze" condition with up to 0.5 inch of corn starch on pipe, conduit, lighting and the grated mezzanine.


Conditions continued

The conditions continued into the line 4-5 packing area (a 40 x 150 ft. area -12.2 x 45.7 m) where the fiber bags are filled with starch.  The air was clear as the line was not running, however; a 0.5 inch (1 cm) coating on equipment and overhead piping was once again found. This area has roof joists that are spaced at 3 foot (1 m) on center. The lower chord and diagonal bars on each and every one through the length of the area were completely loaded with corn starch.
The group also went into a 20 x 30 ft. (6.1 x 9.1 m) packing stack-up area that had up to a 1 inch (2.5 cm) accumulation on all visible areas. Once on the mezzanine, the back side of two 'H' beams on either side of the room were checked. These hidden areas each had a 2 inch (5 cm) accumulation of corn starch the length of the beams.

At this point, Rod decided (due to the explosion potential) that the second day of the plant inspection should be cancelled. It was explained to the management team at the national starch company that the second day of the inspection could not occur due to the potentially hazardous conditions.

The Allianz Risk Consulting Engineer's comments were taken very seriously, and the management team was quite concerned and embarrassed. They pledged to do whatever was necessary to correct the issues, and to change the mindset. They planned to improve the facility right away and invited Rod back to prove to him that these changes would be made.

Allianz Risk Consultants Recommendations
  • Implement a course to educate all management on the hazards of combustible dust.  This course should include legal references and real life exposures and dangers.
  • Establish a "Stop, Fix & Run" philosophy on repairs to leaking equipment.  Operators should be instructed on immediate measures to take when exposed to leaking equipment.
  • Improve housekeeping checklists (daily, weekly and monthly) for all areas that specifically reference combustible dust exposure and prevention.
  • Engage an impartial internal quality assurance auditor to complete routine inspections to ensure site standards for combustible dust prevention and control are maintained and observed.
  • Reinforce the use of STOP walk-arounds for safety, to be used to assist in the prevention of combustible dust accumulation.  Use the success of this program to assist in identifying combustible dust.


The insured has made major improvements in the housekeeping in all areas noted. All accumulated corn starch on overhead surfaces has been vacuumed or power washed away. Management at the corn starch company has taken a strong approach toward dust exposure and housekeeping.

The intent is to help ensure that housekeeping and corn starch accumulations on overhead surfaces is never again an issue. All recommendations listed above have been completed.  The overall risk rating of the plant has been upgraded from sub-standard to above-standard and the severe explosion hazard presented has all but been eliminated.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Journey to Safety Excellence

Journey to Safety Excellence

From IMPO a good article discussing the reasons for developing the “journey to safety excellence” strategy by James Johnson, National Safety Council.

Q&A With James Johnson, National Safety Council - Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operations

Interview by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

James Johnson is responsible for leading National Safety Council advocacy initiatives to reduce deaths and injuries associated with workplace safety. Mr. Johnson works with a diverse group of stakeholders to establish and promote best practices for safety and health processes affecting employees on-the-job.

With more than 30 years experience as a safety and health consultant, project manager, and team manager, Mr. Johnson has led development and delivery of progressive safety solutions for companies of all sizes and industries. He has managed multiple risk control disciplines, helping them to align strategy to actionable and measurable initiatives for continuous, sustainable improvement, and world-class performance.

IMPO: What are the key elements to this approach?
JJ: There are four key elements to the journey to safety excellence. Each is important unto itself and in relation to each of the other elements. The elements are interdependent, and when fully integrated as a workplace safety strategy—and working in concert with other improvement processes such as quality and efficiency—have significant impact on protecting workers and enhancing company performance and profitability. The four key elements are:
  • Management leadership and employee engagement. This is about enhancing a safety culture that creates the opportunity for safety excellence through shared ownership and responsibility.
  • Safety management systems. This is a framework of processes and procedures used to ensure that an organization can fulfill all safety tasks required to achieve its objectives.
  • Risk reduction strategies. Risk is the combination of the likelihood of an event (occurrence) and the severity of the injury that may result. Risk is always present in the workplace and companies who strive to reduce risk will outperform companies that do not.
  • Performance measurement. Managing a process of improvement requires data on activities and outcomes in the form of performance measures. This enables companies to establish baselines, measure improvement over baseline, and understand the relationship (correlation) between safety activities and the outcomes of injury and disability.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pardon Your ComDust

By Rich Christianson at

Pardon Your ComDust

An OSHA-mandated combustible dust standard in likely a year or two away, but that doesn’t mean the federal safety agency isn’t already applying increased pressure on manufacturers to clean up their plants.

As I witnessed firsthand yesterday at OSHA’s third in a series of Combustible Dust Stakeholder Meetings (read report), OSHA is intent on making a ComDust standard real. It’s a rule-making process that might not be happening if not for the Feb. 7, 2008 fatal explosion of Imperial Sugar’s plant in Port Wentworth, GA, that killed 14 and injured dozens of other workers. But happening it is.

Ever since the Imperial Sugar tragedy, Congress has taken enhanced interest in safeguarding workers from ComDust hazards and OSHA inspectors have paid greater attention to dust accumulations in the workplace. The most recent example is OSHA’s announcement that it was fining H&H Woodworking of Yonkers, NY, $130,800 for “severe” and “willful” safety violations. OSHA’s investigation of H&H Woodworking was prompted by the report of an employee who lost part of his hand operating a radial arm saw. The inspectors not only determined that the company failed to provide the required saw guards but that it was deficient in many others areas of safety, including combustible dust prevention.

Last week, we reported on a suspected combustible dust explosion at Wood-Mode Inc. of Kreamer, PA. Fortunately no one was hurt when a 75-foot silo, containing dust burned as fuel, exploded.

Combustible dust was also suspected as a factor in the fatal explosion of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia last month. In addition, OSHA has cited ComDust violations at Formosa Plastic, Timber-Tech, Geneva Wood Fuels and Birdsong Corp., among others, this year.

Considering the vast number of dust-generating operations that exist in this country, the number of recorded ComDust incidents is small. But be that as it may, make no mistake that ComDust is fully focused on OSHA’s radar screen and a federal rule that will mandate engineering controls, training and records-keeping, is coming down the pike.

As I have said on more than one occasion in my Wood & Wood Products’ editorials over the years, keeping your plant as clean of dust as possible is not only helpful to the well-being and morale of your workers, but to the quality of your products and the image of your company.

No matter how big or small your operation might be, this issue is too real to be ignored.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Becoming Numb to Risks

Excellent post by Dr. Saraf.

Familiarity with a process can often lead to complacency!

Becoming Numb to Risks
July 27th, 2009 | by Dr. Saraf |

In our daily lives we often become immune to risks around us. For example, there are around 40,000 annual fatalities from automobile accidents in the US and yet we do not think twice before getting into their cars. We eat a burger ignoring the risks of heart problems!

Why do we tend to ignore risks that we are frequently exposed to?

To answer this question, I’m going to quote my graduate advisor - Dr. Sam Mannan.

The first time your “low fuel” gauge lights up, you might get worried about running out of gas. However, if you make it to the gas station easily, you may not get as concerned the next time and wait some more time before you stop at a gas station. This relaxation of concern and the time you might wait to stop at a gas station after the gauge comes on might increase as you get more comfortable with the “alarm,” “warning,” or “indicator.” However, if one day you were to run out of gas, it would be hard to argue that you did not have indicators of trouble.

Many researchers have called this phenomenon as the “normalization of deviation”, i.e., getting so used to a warning signal that it’s no longer much of a warning. In fact, the phenomenon is such that with time, the increase in deviation accepted by the individual or organization increases in magnitude.

So true! Is this the reason things are Still Going Wrong?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

OSHA Regulatory Update is Not Good News for Employers

From Manufacturing & Technology eJournal
And Gary W. Auman, Esq.

Pending OSHA legislation makes the employer responsible to make sure employees comply.  It does not place any responsibility on the employees for utilizing their training and equipment. Without such a change the pending legislation will make it almost impossible for a company to avoid OSHA enforcement, no matter how conscientious and safe it is.

OSHA Regulatory Update is Not Good News for Employers
Pending Legislation Does Not Place Any Responsibility on the Employees for Utilizing Their Training and Equipment

In an effort to pass OSHA legislation in 2010, the House recently attached portions of the Protecting America’s Workers Act to the Robert C. Byrd Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010. This action got the OSHA legislation out of committee and ready for a vote on the floor of the House. This legislation is not good news for employers.

Other key points in this article:

  • Bill addresses whistleblower protection.
  • Provide a private cause of action for the employee against the employer if OSHA decided there was not sufficient evidence for it to proceed to court with the employee’s complaint.
  • Creates rights in victims of industrial accidents that result in an OSHA investigation.
  • Require an employer to take immediate abatement action upon receiving the citations, even if the employer intended to file a notice of contest (NOC).
  • A major portion of the new legislation addresses new penalties. 
  • One of the most significant changes in the penalty area is the increase in criminal penalties for willful violations involving a fatality and creating a new category for criminal penalties involving a willful violation resulting in a serious injury.
  • Nothing in the legislation that would relieve employers of full responsibility for the actions of employees on the job.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Risk Management 101 for Small Business Owners

Good article from American Express Small Business.

Here are some of the highlights:

Risk is an inherent part of being in business.  It can be managed and its adverse outcomes can be mitigated.  The greatest challenge for small business owners is to find the proper balance between peace of mind and profitability.
Take these steps to put an initial risk management plan into place at your company:

First: identify risks
Some risks are common to most or all businesses.  Others are very specific to your business and only you as the owner can know them.  The best way to approach this is to use a standard risks checklist as a start and then add to it based on your specific expertise.  The Small Business Administration provides a Small Business Insurance and Risk Management guide which addresses potential risks. 

Second: determine your company’s vulnerability for each risk
Vulnerability is a function of probability – what are the odds that a particular risk will materialize- and cost – how much does your company stand to lose as a result.

Third: prepare contingency plans
Contingency planning goes beyond just buying insurance.  There are many ways to manage risks.
An effective risk management plan is comprehensive and creative. It goes beyond insurance.

Fourth: Acquire the right types of insurance
Insurance, however, should not be forgotten or minimized!  It is a central part of risk management.

Fifth: Monitor and adapt as needed
Risk management plans should be reviewed and updated regularly.

Reckless leaders take reckless risks; prudent leaders take calculated risks.  Risk management is the “calculator.”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

If my dust collector is small enough can I keep it inside?

This is another type of question we hear frequently.  Related to a previous post about how to upgrade and protect older dust collectors.  "If my dust collector is small enough can I keep it inside?"

From our friends at Powder Bulk Solids, the "Ask the Expert" Blog, and Shawn McCorkle with Oseco, a question about keeping smaller dust collectors inside and avoiding mitigation:

Explosion Venting/Suppression Q&A

  If I keep the air/material separator under 8 ft. 3 in., can I avoid explosive mitigation?

Answered July 26th, 2010 by Expert: Shawn McCorkle
This is a tricky question. NFPA 654 ( requires that protection be provided for air material separators that have an explosion hazard. Section requires that air-material separators shall be located outdoors unless it is has explosion protection per (venting through duct, suppression, innerting, containment, flameless venting) or if the volume is less than 8 cubic feet. Therefore it can be located indoors but still must be protected. The problem is that the volume is too small to vent or suppress. So the way I would interpret it is that it would have to be built to contain or innerted. I think that the best solution is to direct this question to NFPA 654 for a clarification.

This was a very interesting Question. In our business, the business of helping to protect industrial conveying and dust collection systems from fires and explosions, this question comes up often, "How can mitigation be avoided?"
There is no simple answer.  I would first review the process, and in some cases challenge the motive of the question.  Presumably people want to avoid mitigation due to cost factors.  I would submit that mitigation of risk is less costly than loss of life or other injury to personnel, production, or company reputation.  These factors must be included in your decision making process.
However, having said that, realize that many factors affect the operation of an air-material-separator, and many factors affect mitigation. Some of these factors include size, volume, strength and location of the vessel, along with combustibility characteristics of the material, air-to-fuel ratios, existing safety systems, applicable current regulations and standards, etc.  You can reduce risk, and you can reduce probability. Consider mitigation as insurance.

These are all factors to be considered within Process Safety Management. - Jeff Nichols

Monday, September 13, 2010

Potential hazards of airborne contaminants

From our friends at Powder Bulk Solids, and the "Ask the Expert" blog, and Rob Williamson at Dantherm, a question about the potential hazards or airborne contaminants and dust collection.

Dust Collection & Pollution Control Q&A

  Question: What are the potential hazards of the airborne contaminants that are removed by dust collection?

Answered August 31st, 2010 by Expert: Rob Williamson
Dust collection removes airborne contaminants, such as dust, mist and fumes from the work environment. The airborne particles created by cutting, shaping and grinding are more than a nuisance, they can be a serious health hazard to both health and safety if not properly controlled. Here are some of the potential problems of which you should be concerned:
Respiratory effects are the primary health concern. Inhaling excessive dust, mist or fumes can cause nasal irritation and bleeding, inflammation of the sinuses, wheezing, prolonged colds and decreased lung function. You can also develop an allergy and asthma from repeated exposure to certain airborne contaminants.
Skin and eye effects are also possible. Dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin, can occur from repeated contact. Symptoms can include itching, redness or cracking of the skin. These contaminants can also cause eye irritation.
Certain airborne contaminants are known human carcinogens. Occupational exposure can cause cancer of the sinuses and nasal cavities.

I would also add that in industrial processing these airborne contaminants in many cases are also combustible.  Proper dust collection system design, controls and housekeeping, as well as safety and protection systems are required.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What are the biggest misconceptions manufacturers have relative to their OSHA responsibilities related to combustible dust?

Another good article from our friends at Farr on OSHA REQUIREMENTS and MANUFACTURERS RESPONSIBILITIES for COMBUSTIBLE DUST , DUST COLLECTORS and dust collection systems.

The biggest misconception among manufacturers is that OSHA is just presenting them with a guideline, not with something they have to do. The fact is, OSHA is beefing up enforcement of safety measures on several fronts, and combustible dust has become one of the top priorities since the agency re-issued its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on this topic in March 2008.

Under the OSHA NEP, manufacturers are required to follow applicable NFPA standards including the revamped NFPA 68 Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting, which provides mandatory requirements for dust collection applications involving explosive dusts. Sometimes other safety standards such as Factory Mutual may be applied instead, but these are no less stringent than NFPA and all are treated as legal code by nearly every town and county in the U.S.

For additional information, read the article, Five Ways New Explosion Venting Requirements For Dust Collectors Affect You. The article can be downloaded as a PDF.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Just What Is Innovation?

From Chemical Info, and author Mike Collins, comes a good piece on innovation.

Here are a few hints:
Leadership, Change and Creativity
R&D and Experimentation
Procedures and Processes
Culture and Environment
Problems, Trends and Opportunities

He also has a few warning signs for you. Can you say "Outsourcing"?
BLOG: Just What Is Innovation?
If the innovation process goes offshore, America will lose much of its capacity to generate wealth, and that decline in long-term economic growth is assured … continue

Old but still functioning dust collectors need to be upgraded

This is a question, we hear frequently. 

From our friends at Powder & Bulk Solids "Ask The Experts Blog", an article by Dr. Mayer with Rembe answering the question about what the requirements are for old dust collectors:

Explosion Venting/Suppression Q&A

  We are a food processing company with an old but still functioning dust collector that needs to be upgraded and currently has no vent panels. We have been told that we need to move the dust collector outside in order to be in compliance with NFPA standards. Kst is somewhere around 150 bar m/sec or less. Is that our only option?

Answered September 9th, 2010 by Expert: Dr. Gerd Mayer
Not necessarily. You really have a number of options. Depending on distances, Preds and such, you might be able to duct and vent the collector to the outside with an explosion panel if your collector is close to an exterior wall. But you need to pay attention to the Pred of the collector and you may need to strengthen your collector (you mention it is old!) due to potential back pressure that will build up. Another option is to safely vent your dust collector with a flameless vent, designed to capture both the flame and pressure of a combustible dust explosion, should one occur. Or, as you mentioned, you might decide you want to move the dust collector outside to a “safe” location, away from the facility and away from areas where people might walk or gather or vehicles might park or be located.

This is a good answer by Dr. Mayer.  Things that need to be considered are the size of the dust collector, age, strength, location, and proximity to an outside wall. To meet current NFPA 654 Standards you will also need to consider not only explosion venting, but also sprinkler or deluge, a Spark Detection System, Isolation, and if the collector is returning air back to the plant, you may also need to consider Spark Detection and an Abort Gate.  If you have questions in this area, we can help.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

OSHA Issues Stern Warning to Grain Handling Facilities (Combustible Dust)

OSHA Issues Stern Warning to Grain Handling Facilities (Combustible Dust)

From Our friends at Nilfisk Industrial Vacuum Blog:

OSHA Issues Stern Warning to Grain Handling Facilities (Combustible Dust)

Following several safety violations in August, OSHA is sternly reminding grain handling facilities to comply with the proper safety and maintenance procedures, outlined in the Grain Handling Facility Standard.
At a recent press conference, David Michael, OSHA Administrator stated, “I am appalled at the outrageously reckless behavior of some operators of grain storage facilities. OSHA has investigated several cases involving worker entry into grain storage bins or elevators where we have found that the employer was aware of the hazard and OSHA standards but has failed to train or protect their workers. OSHA has aggressively pursued these cases and will continue to use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible…We will not tolerate noncompliance with our Grain Handling Facilities Standard, and we will take violations of these standards very seriously.”
And if that didn’t get people’s attention, The Wisconsin Agri-Service Association has notified it’s members of OSHA’s new local emphasis program for grain handlers, in which the agency will randomly select a cycle of 10 facilities at a time within each of the four Wisconsin area districts (WI, IL, OH) to inspect them for major hazard areas. The Local Emphasis Program will investigate hazards like engulfment, falls, combustible dust, and electrocution and focus on feed mills, ethanol plants, pet food manufacturers, grain elevators and warehouses.
For facilities looking to bulk up their maintenance efforts in response to OSHA’s strict message, our A17 EXP vacuum cleaner is a top choice among grain handling facilities. It’s an air-operated vacuum (often preferred) that’s ATEX-approved (Ex) for Zones 1, 2, 21 and 22. It’s also designed to meet the requirements for use in Class I, Group D, and Class II, Groups E, F, and G locations. More info on our website.
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Review: Dust Explosions in the Process Industries, 3rd Edition

Fires and dust explosions are common and costly in many industries.  In this book Eckhoff has organized a comprehensive overview of his practical knowledge of the origin, development, prevention and mitigation of dust explosions, an up to date evaluation of testing methods, design measures and safe operating techniques.

Included are the research and findings of many other scientists, creating a definitive reference guide for information on the causes, effects and alternatives available for dealing with this complex subject, providing an excellent resource on dust explosions. This book will serve as a foundational reference on the subject of dust explosions in the process industries.  Also provided is detailed information of all phases of the hazard and control of a dust explosion. An invaluable reference.

-Jeff Nichols

As a resource to our valuable clients and readers, we provide the book review below from our colleague PUJAN AGNIHOTRI.

Mr. Agnihotri is an Associate Member of Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) & Member of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and research associate for

Book Review: Dust Explosions in the Process Industries, 3rd Edition                                                            

Published by: Gulf Professional Publishing, An Imprint of Elsevier Science
ISBN 0-7506-7602-7, Hardcover, 705 pages, 2003

Author: Rolf K. Eckhoff, Professor of Process Safety Technology, The University of Bergen, Norway.

One of the major challenge in the field of fire protection & life safety engineering in process industries is Dust Explosion. Dust explosions are common & costly for a wide range of industries such as food, pharmaceutical, paper & petrochemical. Thus it is important to emphasis on in depth study of dust explosion to avert any higher intensity disaster like Sugar Dust Explosion at Imperial Sugar Factory, Georgia, February 7, 2008. This publication provides great deal of knowledge for all audience, from layman to fire protection & life safety experts, keenly interested in learning more about the dust explosion. Author has done an excellent job in compiling, from various sources, a large volume of material relating to dust explosion.

This publication helps reader to gain theoretical & practical knowledge about the origin, development, prevention & mitigation of dust explosion. It is divided in nine chapters with nearly 750 pages with tables, graphs, derivations & illustrative figures, for thorough understanding about the subject: Dust Explosion. Author has used more than 300 references for each chapter of this book.  Author made some modification in his third edition of book; mainly a chapter on design of electrical equipment used in areas containing combustible dust, re-organized final review chapter with nearly 400 new literature references from years 1997-2002 & broad distribution of sections from the original chapters one to seven.

First chapter is an overview about the origin, propagation, prevention, & mitigation of dust explosion. Author in this chapter discuss about the nature of dust explosions, statistical records, importance of dust & dust cloud properties in explosion, methods involve in prevention & mitigation of dust explosion and their selection criteria. This chapter provides us basic understanding about the dust explosions.

Second chapter describe about the history of dust explosion accidents all over the world. Author discuss about dust explosion in flour warehouse, silo plant,  fish meal factory, large storage facilities, Linen Textile plant, coal dust plant, silicon powder grinding plant, slurry explosive factory, Aluminum powder production plant. He covers dust explosion accident events in United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Canada, China, Russia & Sweden, from years 1785 to 1989. Author provided references to reports of more recent accidents in Chapter 9. 

From chapter 3 the author starts exploring the different parameters affecting dust explosions.  In this chapter, he discusses the explosive concentration of dust cloud through reentrainment & redispersion of deposited dust in air. He gives us a detailed understanding about the forces & strength of dust particles in powder or dust deposits and effects of gaseous medium on dust particle flow. He ends this chapter by providing methods for generating experimental dust clouds for research purpose. 

Chapter 4 gives us information regarding flames movement in dust cloud. Author studies different parameters like burning velocities, flame thickness, quenching distances, rate of pressure rise (for closed vessel), explosible concentration, dimension of enclosure & temperatures for laminar, non- laminar & turbulent flame propagation of coal dust, organic dust, metal dust & miscellaneous dust particles, through various derivation.  At the end of the chapter, author emphasizes detonation propagation in dust clouds in air.

In chapter 5, the author discusses the ignition of dust clouds & dust deposits. He talks about the self heating & self ignition of dust deposits, and dust clouds ignition from different sources like electric spark, mechanical rubbing, grinding, or impact & hot surfaces. Important parameters like minimum ignition temperatures, minimum ignition energy or minimum electric spark ignition energy, activation energy, minimum self-ignition temperature, are discussed in detail in this chapter.

Chapter 6 describes information regarding the vent sizing required for dust explosions. Author provides vent sizing methods used in Europe & United States. Further he provided derivation for calculating vent area in accordance to L/D (effective length/ diameter of the vessel), Pred (maximum pressure development in vented deflagration), Pmax (expected maximum pressure in vented explosions). Chapter 7 deals with laboratory scale tests for different properties of dust.

Chapter 8 research & development on dust explosions from years 1997 to 2002 in Chapter 9 are added in this edition of book. Chapter 8 discusses electrical apparatus usage in combustible dust containing area. Classification of areas, details of electrical apparatus design criteria, prevention of dust from potential ignition sources, intrinsically safe electrical apparatus are the topics discussed in detail in chapter 8. Chapter 9 concentrates on research & development in dust explosion field throughout the globe, with references for major dust explosion accidents in history. 

Summarizing, I would recommend that this book is a key source of information for professionals dealing with combustible dust in their Industries.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Editorial | What to Do When Old Dust Collectors No Longer Comply With New Standards

As seen in Powder Bulk Solids, an excelent article by By Ed Ravert, United Air Specialists

Editorial | What to Do When Old Dust Collectors No Longer Comply With New Standards

Some Key Points:

*Although seemingly cost-effective for a company to hold onto a dust collection system for so many years, this may also be a potentially hazardous decision when it involves combustible dusts.

*Also noteworthy is the re-issue of the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 68 Standard on Explosion by Deflagration Venting. The completely revised Guideline is now a Standard that is enforceable by OSHA.

*Combustible Dust: What Is It?

*Options for Existing Equipment

*Staying Safe

If you are contemplating utilizing a used dust collector in a new application, I urge you to take a minute and click on the link above to read the rest of this article.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Inherent Safety = Lower Risks?

On his blog our friend Dr. Saraf asks: Inherent Safety = Lower Risks?

He is speaking of chemical processes, but this thinking can be applied to other industries and processes. For example, on a dust collection system, considering where you locate the fan and what type fan used, whether to return the air back to the plant, etc., can lead to an inherently safer design.

Recently a customer utilized a spark resistant fan on a wood dust closed loop relay system with light loading, thus reducing the need for additional spark detection and extinguishing systems in this particular design. The NFPA 664 Prescriptive design was to add Spark detection. By building the process safer, he was able to get his design approved by the local AHJ.

The rest of Dr. Saraf's blog post:
Chemical processes and designs are increasingly being evaluated for inherent safety - i.e. reduce the hazard rather than the risk. The philosophy behind inherent safety is ‘What You Don’t Have, Can’t Leak’ and so you take necessary steps to reduce the hazard.
Issues where inherently safer approaches can be successfully applied are fairly low, maybe 2%. Inherent safety framework suffers few major drawbacks - (a) not accounting for risk-benefit and (b) not providing acceptable risk criteria and a decision system to go along with it.
Eliminating hazards is may not always be practical as we know there is risk involved in every action. Even eating a burger.
Therefore as a matter of practicality, I recommend thinking of inherently safer alternative as lower risk option.
Within the framework of risk management, one can include evaluations of safer alternatives and be able to reach a decision.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How To Conduct Effective Safety Training

Here is a slide show from Steve Wise, Sr. Mgr. Facilities at TTX Company, titled:

"How to Conduct Effective Safety Training"

He had posted on our LinkedIn Safety Training group page:

Topics include: How to get people to buy in and get involved, Safety Communication, Safety and Passion, etc.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whats Your Safety Goal?

A great Safety Video by Carl Potter, Certified Safety Professional, that asks "What is Your Safety Goal?"  If it isn't "No one Gets Hurt", then think again!

The difference between Organizational, Team and Individual Safety Goals.

He starts out with this quote: "Fate is the hunter that seeks out those who are least prepared" by Earnest K. Gann.  Think about that and how it relates to safety!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Think like a Safety Professional

Carl Potter, Certified Safety Professional, in this video teaches "How to Think like a Safety Professional"

See more of Carl Potter saftey books and videos at:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Safety Culture Plus | The Accident Pyramid

Great article showing that High Probability of Occurrence of Safety related incidences does indeed lead to the possibility of a High Consequence Event!

At Risk behavior leads to near misses, recorded injuries, lost productivity cases, and eventually fatality.

Safety Culture Plus | The Accident Pyramid

In order to understand the history of incident presentation, you need a good understanding of what it takes to reduce injuries. The accident pyramid model used many years ago as we will discuss will provide some useful information.

In 1969, a study of industrial accidents was undertaken by Frank E. Bird, Jr., who was then the Director of Engineering Services for the Insurance Company of North America. He was interested in the accident ratio of 1 major injury to 29 minor injuries to 300 no-injury accidents first discussed in the 1931 book, Industrial Accident Prevention by. H. W. Heinrich. Refer to Figure 1.

Read more here...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How Risk Perception Affects Regulations

Interesting blog post by Dr. Saraf on the Risk and Safety Blog.
How the perception of risk affects regulation:

How Risk Perception Affects Regulations

Risk is a perception.
Our perception of risks is mainly affected by two factors:
(a) whether we are voluntarily accepting the risk.
(b) potential consequences of event or act or decision.
For a layman, judging a risk is often a function of catastrophic potential. For example, working in a nuclear plant is considered riskier than driving on the road, whereas statistics show that more people are killed every year in automobile crash than in accidents in nuclear plants.
The higher the perceived risk by the people the more is the demand to reduce such a risk, and consequently more people want to see stricter regulations to reduce risk.
As a result it piques interest from government, regulatory bodies, and policy makers and there is an increased incentive to have a regulatory oversight.
Perception of future risks affects regulations and these perceived risks get magnified due to uncertainties and misinformation.

Without a risk acceptance criteria and a prudent risk analysis framework, any future safety regulation will be a biased one.
A safety standard has to take into account risks/benefits/uncertainty

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Combustible Dust Explosions in the News

From our good friends at GreCon, a series of combustible dust related articles titled "Combustible Dust Explosions in the News"

Dust Explosion News | GreCon Spark Detection - Extinguishing Systems

Combustible dust can be destructive and very dangerous. ... comments on issues related to combustible dust such as hazard recognition, assessment, .... OSHA estimates 30000 U.S. facilities may be at risk for combustible dust incidents. ... -

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things that go boom – combustible dust hazards

From our friends at Workplace Safety, a good primer on combustible dust in the workplace.

Things that go boom – combustible dust hazards

Performing the combustible dust assessment ... Make sure you are prepared by assessing the risk at your facility and following combustible dust safe ... - Cached

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Words and Slogans vs. Actions

Slogans vs. Actions.
"We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.” – Abigail Adams

The article below is a good overview of what happens when company mission statements, goals and slogans do not match actions.

In the industrial process fire prevention business, many times while touring a plant I see posters with slogans like "Safety First" posted in key locations, only to find real and unrecognized fire and safety hazards, like layers of combustible dust on the ground, on equipment and joists.  As I am walking around and observing, I often think "this looks like an accident waiting to happen".  This incongruence, or disconnect is wherein the problem with safety lies.  And the safety culture for an organization always starts from the top down.  This is a major focus of combustible dust education.

Other times I tour plants that do have a very stringent regard for safety systems and procedures, and they always have few accidents, better productivity and employee retention.   These organizations have pride in their safety culture.

It all starts with an attitude.  An attitude that "people really are our most valuable asset", and an attitude that "Safety really is No Accident!"

BLOG: When Words Collide
“People are our greatest asset.” Given the disparity between words and deeds, you must wonder if nearly every motivational issue that an organization may have is self-inflicted ...

Friday, June 25, 2010

What is A combustible dust?

A short, concise article by W. Jon Wallace of Workplace Safety Blog, that helps answer the burning question:

"Do I have combustible dust in my facility?"

What is a Combustible Dust?
Do I have combustible dust in my facility? What is a combustible dust? Due to recent combustible dust explosions, as well as OSHA's national emphasis ...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Combustible dust research reveals 100 related fires and explosions in 2009

Our friend John Astad of the Combustible Policy Institute, has new research out:

Combustible dust research reveals 100 combustible dust related fires and explosions in 2009

Fine tuning the combustible dust incidents that occurred in the manufacturing, non-manufacturing, and utility sectors in 2009. According to media accounts there were 100 combustible dust related fires and explosions. 17% of these ComDust incidents were dust explosions with the majority of all incidents occurring in national industries (NAICS) not recognized in Appendix D-1 & D-2 of the OSHA Combustible Dust NEP.

Amazingly there were no fatalities that occurred as a result of these combustible dust incidents with 23 injuries.

Combustible dust research reveals 100 combustible dust related fires and explosions in 2009

Pie Charts:
2009 Combustible Particulate Solids incidents by Material
2009 Combustible Particulate Solids incidents by industry

23 injuries sustained from all the incidents

19 ComDust Explosions, over 50% explosions Non-NEP national industries (NAICS)
30% of the ComDust incidents involved a dust collector
10% of the ComDust incidents involved the ductwork

OSHA's Tough New Stance

Human Resource Executive Online
OSHA's Sharper Teeth
Human Resource Executive Online
The agency plans to update existing exposure limits and set new rules to protect employees from such dust. * Combustible dust: Such material can cause ...
Top Obama OHS bureaucrat calls for tougher penalties in US
Canadian Safety Reporter
... criminal penalties for fatal worker injuries, chemical standards, distracted driving, high state and city worker injury rates and combustible dust.
OSHA Chief Calls for Criminal Penalties
Occupational Health Safety
He said pretty much the same thing when asked about the progress of the proposed combustible dust standard, noting the many regulatory steps and surveys ...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Bittersweet Lesson - Sugar and Combustible Dust

From Chemical Info -

A Bittersweet Lesson

The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reports that the sugar industry, in particular, has had a long love affair with both combustible dust and lackadaisical housekeeping methods. In fact, this trend dates as far back as 1925.
A Bittersweet Lesson | Chem.Info
Although Imperial Sugar may not be the lone offender of combustible dust crimes, it is perhaps the most memorable.

Don’t Sweep Safety Under the Rug
An Occupational Safety and Health Administration Fact Sheet titled:
Hazard Alert: Combustible Dust Explosions offers specific dust control recommendations to help protect your facility from a similar fate:
  • Implement a hazardous dust inspection, testing, housekeeping and control program.
  • Use proper dust collection systems and filters.
  • Minimize the escape of dust from process equipment or ventilation systems.
  • Use surfaces that minimize dust accumulation and facilitate cleaning.
  • Provide access to all hidden areas to permit inspection.
  • Inspect for dust residues at regular intervals.
  • If ignition sources are present, use cleaning methods that do not generate dust clouds, such as industrial vacuums, which are designed to contain dust.
  • Use only vacuum cleaners approved for dust collection.
  • Locate relief valves away from dust deposits.
Meanwhile, the CSB recommends strict adherence to the National Fire Protection Agency’s following standards:
  • NFPA 61: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities.
  • NFPA 499: Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas.
  • NFPA 654: Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids.
  • NFPA 70, Article 500: Hazardous (Classified Locations).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shop Fire Safety #1: Hazards in the Workshop

Shop Fire Safety.
Excellent article written by a firefighter - and the head of the emergency response team for a company that specializes in industrial fire protection.  He talks about the sources and risks of combustible dust, the importance of housekeeping, and how to minimize your shop risk.  Read this article. It is just as pertinent to small shops, and even hobbyists, as well as larger industrial manufacturers.

Woodworking blog entries tagged with 'combustible dust ...
Woodworking blog entries tagged with 'combustible dust'. most recent · most read · most discussed · most favorited · View PocketHole69's profile (online now ...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The biggest tax increase on small business in HISTORY 1/1/2011

If you own an "S" Corp., or LLC taxed as an "S" Corp., listen up, big changes are coming...

The biggest tax increase on small business in HISTORY-1/1/2011

posted by Roger Herring at The Investor's Accountant Speaks - 12 hours ago
Late last month, the House of Representatives passed the American Jobs and Tax Loopholes Closing Act of 2010. It is now in the Senate and will become law by the end of summer. This law contains a major cha...


Health care law's massive, hidden tax change

 The bill makes two key changes to how 1099s are used. First, it expands their scope by using them to track payments not only for services but also for tangible goods. Plus, it requires that 1099s be issued not just to individuals, but also to corporations.

Stealth IRS changes mean millions of new tax forms

Courtesy of the health care reform bill, every business in the country is about to undergo a dramatic change in how expenses are reported. These changes promise to be an accounting nightmare for virtually everyone.
A recent article in focuses on one provision of the health care bill. This simple change is designed to help close the estimated $300 billion gap between what individuals and businesses owe the Internal Revenue Service versus what they pay.

6-23 UPDATE:

posted by Roger Herring at The Investor's Accountant Speaks - 1 day ago
I am happy to report that the bill containing the S Corp nightmare is currently stalled. Now would be a great time to review my earlier posts and to call your congressmen and senators and tell them to "Sav...
posted by Roger Herring at The Investor's Accountant Speaks - 3 hours ago
The bill containing the S Corp nightmare has been tabled. It is not dead, just delayed. This action was narrowly passed yesterday in fear of a GOP filibuster. HR 4213, AKA the American Jobs and Tax Loopho...


posted by Roger Herring at The Investor's Accountant Speaks - 23 hours ago
Asset protection in a single member LLC may be a myth. How? Its called reverse penetration. Consider this: You form the single member LLC for a business or an income producing asset. The LLC is designed t...

Should Mainstream Media Be Held to Different Standards Than Bloggers? | WebProNews

Interesting article for your consideration...

Should Mainstream Media Be Held to Different Standards Than Bloggers? | WebProNews

Is it Ok for MSM Not to Credit Blogs?

Should mainstream media be held to different standards than bloggers when it comes to crediting sources?...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Industrial Fire Prevention commercial

Industrial Fire Prevention commercial for South East Fire Prevention.

Prevent industrial fires and explosions.

Seen in this video:
Industrial Fires
Industrial Explosions
GreCon Spark Detection Systems
Industrial Fire Prevention
South East Fire Prevention

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Value of Life

Value of Life

As safety professionals, we are often required to consider value of life in decision making.

So, what is the economic value of a life?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), it is $5.8 million.

Click on the link below to read more…

OSHA ComDust Web Chat

Combustible Dust - 75:32142-32143
OSHA plans to use the information gathered in response to this Web Chat in developing a proposed standard for combustible dust. DATES: The Web Chat will be ...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Worker Safety? There’s an App for That!

Interesting post on iPhone safety applications from our friend Dr. Saraf.

posted by Dr. Saraf at Risk and Safety Blog - 23 hours ago
I have always been fascinated by Apple products. Apple’s iPhone besides providing the “cool” touchscreen also lets developers create customized applications. Here are a few safety applications you may find...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What is Your Plant's Fire Risk? Simple Ways to Reduce Your Fire Hazards

Here is a good article By DeAnna Stephens from Pallet Enterprise, 
featuring commentary by Bob Moore, chairman and CEO of  
Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS), and Kurt Ruchala, 
principal engineer at FirePro.  

This article outlines some basic and simple solutions when it comes to 
protecting your plant, production processes, and personnel from fires 
and explosions, in any industry.

Additionally, I would add to protect your dust collection systems with  
spark detection and extinguishing systems, as well as sprinkler or deluge 
systems at the minimum. Additionally consider explosion venting, isolation 
or suppression systems as needed, and as referenced by NFPA, 
OSHA and FM Global.

Plant Fire Safety Checklist  
(modified from the article for general use)
  • Are combustible dust, waste and residues kept cleaned up and removed?
  • Are all brush and weeds kept cleared from around buildings?
  • Do all employees know and follow smoking policies and procedures?
  • Do employees use cigarette butt receptacles to dispose of cigarettes?
  • Are stored product / pallet piles kept neat and orderly?
  • Are product / pallet stacks kept below the maximum height?
  • Are all product and chemicals stored outdoors far away from buildings?
  • Is the sprinkler or fire suppression system the right kind for the plant?
  • Is it tested regularly?
  • Have smoke alarms been tested and batteries replaced regularly?  
  • Have fire alarms been tested regularly? Do you have regular fire drills?
  • Are fire extinguishers/hoses located throughout plant in easy access locations?
  • Is all electrical equipment examined on a regular basis for damage?
  • Is electrical equipment being used properly?
  • Are proper housekeeping policies and procedures being followed?
  • Are dust collection and conveying systems in proper working order?