Monday, December 29, 2014

Safety Awakenings Website - Free Safety Resources

Programs « Categories « Safety Awakenings

Updated: Safety Awakenings is a website by Dave Weber, featuring  900 Power
Points, 500 Videos, 75 eBooks, in addition to various other safety
talks, videos, podcasts, webinars, and 35 various Apps for safety.


Claims, Cases, Lost Time and the Hidden Cost of Hazards

Life After the Incident: Claims, Cases, Lost Time and the Hidden Cost of Hazards in Utilities Free On-Demand Webinar

The act of reporting an incident is just the first step in the entire incident lifecycle. Find out how to deal with incidents and how they can have a significant impact on your business if not managed properly:

Request your Free On-Demand Webinar!

"Life After the Incident: Claims, Cases, Lost Time and the Hidden Cost of Hazards in Utilities"

– The act of reporting an incident is just the first step in the entire incident lifecycle. Find out how to deal with incidents and how they can have a significant impact on your business if not managed properly. Detailed Description

Monday, December 15, 2014

On Location: Koda Energy

Designing for Maximum Safety

Biomass Magazine - The Latest News on Biomass Power, Fuels and Chemical

On Location: Koda Energy

Executive Editor Tim Portz paid a visit toeditorial board member Stacy Cook from Koda Energy to get a cover photo. He got a cover photo and a tour of Koda's new fuel receiving infrastructure, designed for maximum safety.
By Tim Portz | December 12, 2014

If you’ve heard me talk about Biomass Magazine for more than 10 minutes before, chances are you’ve heard me mention the role that our editorial board plays in the magazine’s planning and production. They truly are invaluable. This week, our team was in the middle of pulling the January
2015 together. I realized last week that so far we didn’t have a great cover option. No problem. Editorial board to the rescue.

I called Stacy Cook, VP and General Manager at Shakopee, Minnesota’s Koda Energy. Not only has Stacy has been a consistent participant on our monthly story pitch meetings for well over two years, his plant happens to be less than a 20 minute drive from my house.  I called Stacy late last week and asked if I could come down and shoot some images that might work for a cover. I was welcomed with open arms.

I’ve been to Koda Energy a number of times. 3-4 at least. As I pulled in on Tuesday, however, I got turned around and wasn’t quite sure I recognized the place. I wound my way behind a large building and found myself approaching a parking lot that looked more familiar. I grabbed my gear and headed into the office. Stacy met me near the front desk.

“This place looks different,” I remarked.

Stacy smiled and noted that since I was last there, the silo yard they used to use to receive and store biomass was completely gone. The building that had thrown me was the new fuel receiving and handling complex.

For the next 30 minutes, I got a whirlwind tour of the plant’s new addition. Still, I was there for a cover shot and so far, I wasn’t sure I’d gotten what I needed. At some point, I walked by two of Koda’s fuel crew and knew immediately that I’d found my cover model. Joel Sadden is a fuel handler hired at Koda nine months ago. Joel is a big guy. A radio was hanging from his sweatshirt and on his full brimmed hard hat he had affixed a head lamp. Earlier I had walked by a very large pipe wrench
and asked Joel if he would simply stand in place, holding the wrench.

Steam billowed behind him and just through the steam I could make out the concrete silo’s at the Rahr Malting Co. A significant amount of Koda’s biomass comes to them from the residues produced by Rahr. I snapped the shutter and felt like I finally had my cover.

This morning I realized how much Stacy had been telling me as I shot that morning. I also realized, with a camera in my numb hands, I’d written very little of it down. What Stacy and his team have done is impressive, so I called him to remind myself of what I had seen.

In April of 2013, there was an explosion that severely damaged the silo yard that used to receive and hold biomass at the plant. Stacy’s team went to work on designing a completely reimagined fuel handling system. The goal was to build the safest system possible. Silos have been replaced by a covered, two bay concrete building.  Each bay terminates at grated floor and biomass is pushed over the grate falling onto an underfloor reclaimer. Stacy pointed out the extensive deployment of GreCon spark detection and arrest system. Koda Energy hired general contractor Greystone Construction to handle the buildings, structures and foundations. Koda handled the equipment selection and procurement and Barr Engineering was engaged to make sure it all fit together nicely. Stacy’s very proud of what they’ve built. That is plain to see.

I’m happy to report that Stacy has graciously offered his facility and his experiences in rebuilding the fuel receiving and handling facility as a tour stop at this year’s International Biomass Conference
& Expo which I will be mentioning on next Tuesday’s preview webinar.

If you are considering participating in that event in any way (speaker, exhibitor, attendee) I’d urge you give our preview 25 minutes. We’re excited about this year’s event.

Thanks again to Stacy for his hospitality. Thanks also to Joel for being a good sport and great cover subject.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wood Pellet Mill Explosion

Mill Explosion Injures Three | From Powder/Bulk Solids

Mill Explosion Injures Three

October 13, 2014
Three mill workers were injured Thursday morning in an explosion at a wood pellet plant in northern British Columbia that was recently fined for "repeated" safety violations.

According to Leroy Reitsma, president of Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc., the incident happened at about 8am at a facility near Burns Lake operated by the company. Three workers were injured – one seriously.

The cause of the fire was unknown, but was said to have started inside a drying machine during a maintenance shutdown. An investigation is ongoing
Two fatal explosions in 2012 at the Burns Lake facility and one in Prince George were linked to combustible wood dust. It is not known if wood dust was the cause of Thursday’s explosion.

The plant was the site of another explosion in 2012. No one was injured in that incident, which occurred in a different area of the plant.

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. has been cited several times in the past year for dust buildup at several facilities –including the Burns Lake plant – and was the site of a previous explosion in 2012. No one was injured in that explosion.

For related articles, news, and equipment reviews, visit our Explosion Protection & Safety Equipment Zone

Monday, November 24, 2014

Grain Dust Labeled a Hazardous Chemical

Grain and other Combustible Dusts are now Labeled as Hazardous Chemical


Grain Dust Labeled a Hazardous Chemical?

Defending Agriculture

New regulations mean dust at grain elevators may be treated like hazardous chemical release

Published on: November 12, 2014
In late October the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion supporting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on regulating businesses that handle and process grain and other agricultural products which create dust.

The case was a challenge to OSHA's revised Hazard Communication Standard, which in effect states that grain dust is a hazardous chemical. But you may want a little background on how the  Government's regulatory wheels spin before this makes much sense.

OSHA already sets workplace requirements for the control of grain dust which may create fires, explosions and safety hazards associated with grain handling facilities.  OSHA's present rule applies to grain elevators, feed mills, flour mills, rice mills, pelletizing plants, dry corn mills, soybean flaking operations, and dry grinding operations of soy cake.  The 1987 rule made it clear that such facilities are to control fugitive grain dust which was defined as combustible dust particles of a certain size.

New regulations mean dust at grain elevators may be treated like hazardous chemical release
New regulations mean dust at grain elevators may be treated like hazardous chemical release

Also, OSHA has been told by Congress to keep its hands off of farm grain storage operations with 10 or fewer employees.

The OSHA Act of 1970 allows the Secretary of Labor to promulgate work place safety and health standards. The Act wants "…to insure that employees are apprised of all hazards to which they are exposed."

With this background, OSHA in 2012 issued a "Hazard Communication Standard".
The revised standard simply required all employers across industries to develop a program for classifying the dangers of workplace hazardous chemicals and conveying those dangers to their employees.

The National Oilseed Processors and the American Feed Industry Association challenged the rule. OSHA said it was issuing the rule to conform to the Globally Harmonized System.

OSHA said that combustible dust is a dangerous hazardous chemical. OSHA further noted that "dusts are known to be subject to deflagration and subsequent explosion…" However, OSHA did not include in this proposed HCS rule a definition of combustible dust.

The petitioners objected to the HCS rule and noted that OSHA in 2009 issued a proposed rule on combustible dust which has yet to be issued by the Agency.

Incredible admission

The three-judge panel on the court made an incredible admission when it suggested it has difficulty with such cases involving dust from agricultural products. It said such regulations are "…rooted in
inferences from complex scientific and factual data, which often necessarily involve highly speculative projections of technological development in areas wholly lacking in scientific and economic certainty."

In essence the court was saying it does not understand the factual background at all.

The petitioners contended they had no opportunity to comment on the inclusion of combustible dust from grain in the final HCS rule because combustible grain dust was not mentioned in the proposed rule.

The court made it clear that industry knows very well what constitutes combustible dust. It tells industry petitioners that they need only to read from OSHA's National Emphasis Program which defines combustible dust as well as agricultural dust.

Agricultural dust is defined as "any finely divided solid agricultural material 420 microns or smaller in diameter…that presents a fire or explosion hazard when dispersed and ignited in air." The petitioners were told they need not worry about the HCS not defining combustible dust because there were plenty of definitions and industry only need to read and follow them.

The trade associations also claimed the new rule violated constitutional due process because the term "combustible dust" is not sufficiently clear. The court made short work of this argument by simply
saying your argument fails on the merits.

OSHA's rule and the Court of Appeals make it clear combustible dust is a hazardous chemical. Both made clear that employers must control fugitive dust which may become combustible. As a result, grain dust must be treated just as any hazardous chemical release.

The opinions of Gary Baise are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

The opinions above are not necessarily those of

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spontaneous Combustion Destroys Grain Plant


Spontaneous Combustion Destroys Grain Plant

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 1:26pm


— Investigators in western New York say spontaneous combustion of
animal feed started the fire that destroyed a large grain mill and
storage facility operated by Minnesota-based Land O' Lakes. Fire crews
from more than two dozen departments battled the fire that broke out
Saturday night at Commodity Resource Corp. in the Livingston County town
of Caledonia, 15 miles south of Rochester.

The company says the site is the largest dairy feed manufacturing
facility and dry fertilizer distribution center in the region. The plant
was closed at the time of the fire.

On Tuesday, Caledonia Deputy Chief John Murray told media outlets the
fire was caused by spontaneous combustion. That's the same thing that
sparked a September fire at a Cargill feed plant in Salem near the
Vermont border.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

DC Circuit rejects challenge to OSHA Hazardous Communication Standard


DC Circuit rejects challenge to the revised OSHA Hazardous Communication Standard

From: Blog Gravel2Gavel Construction Law Blog

 Author page »

On October 24, 2014, the D.C. Circuit rejected a challenge to the revised OSHA Hazardous Communication Standard insofar as it applies to "combustible dust". The case is National Oilseed Processors Association, et al., v. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, et al.  The Standard was substantially revised in 2012 to conform with the Globally Harmonized System, a uniform international chemical labeling system. The Hazard Communication, 77 Fed. Reg. 17,574 (Mar. 26, 2012) ("Final Rule") designated "combustible dust" as a hazardous chemical subject to the
Standard, although OSHA has yet to develop a workplace standard addressing the hazards of combustible dust in the workplace. This decision may be of interest to all manufacturers and employers subjectto the Hazard Communication Standard; it places in context the development of the rule over the past 30 years, and demonstrates again how difficult it is to have such rules overturned.

The National Oilseed Processors Association includes in its membership the owners and operators of grain handling businesses who have a keen interest in this new standard. The Association argued, and
the court rejected, contentions that it was not provided adequate notice of the inclusion of combustible dust in the rule, that OSHA's decision was not supported by substantial evidence as the statute requires, and that their constitutional Due Process rights were violated in that the agency, by failing to define "combustible dust", did not provide fair warning of the agency's enforcement measures.

HazCom Rule Addresses Combustible Dust

Bloomberg BNA

"There is a “general consensus” on what constitutes combustible dust"

"The final rule, as well as a guidance document issued in 2013, “lay out reasonably consistent and
clear instructions” on how employers should decide whether they have a combustible dust hazard, the judge said."

HazCom Rule Can Address Combustible Dust, Court Says in Rejecting Industry Challenge

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oct. 24 — A federal appeals court denied a petition Oct. 24 to vacate the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration's Hazard Communication Standard as it applies to combustible dust.

The petitioners argued that the Hazard Communication Standard—a final rule—should be vacated because OSHA failed to give adequate notice that combustible dust would be included in the rule and that combustible dust should instead be addressed in a pending rulemaking on the subject. They also told a three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the final rule was unconstitutionally vague because it failed to define “combustible dust.”

The petitioners, which include the National Oilseed Processors Association, the Corn Refiners Association, the National Grain and Feed Association and the American Feed Industry Association, argued that they hadn't received adequate notice from OSHA that combustible dust from grain would be among the items included in the Hazard Communication Standard.

It wasn't mentioned in the 2006 advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the petitioners argued. Since
combustible dust had been regulated since 1987 by the grain handling standard, the petitioners said, they couldn't have anticipated that it would be addressed in this final rule.

The groups represent companies involved in grain handling as part of their agricultural and industrial operations, including Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Southern States Cooperative Inc. and Perdue AgriBusiness LLC.

Government lawyers, in a brief filed June 5, argued that the grain handling groups know what combustible dust is—even absent a specific definition—for the purpose of complying with OSHA's grain handling standard and that the agency's proposed hazard communication standard explicitly discussed combustible dust, and stakeholders submitted comments both for and against that proposal.

History Supports OSHA

Writing for the panel, Judge Judith W. Rogers disagreed with the petitioners, noting that combustible dust was addressed in OSHA's 2009 notice of proposed rulemaking.

Rogers added that OSHA had issued interpretive letters saying that its standard would cover grain and other agricultural products as far back as 1986. In 1994, she wrote, OSHA rejected the grain industry's argument that grain dust shouldn't be covered by the Hazard Communication Standard.

The petitioners also argued that, statutorily, rules on combustible dust should be covered under a pending rulemaking on the subject rather than in the Hazard Communication Standard because there is as yet no clear definition of what constitutes combustible dust. Existing standards from OSHA and private industry are inconsistent and haven't been reconciled by rulemaking, the petitioners argued.

‘Operative Definition.'

The judge disagreed,saying that OSHA has supported an “operative definition” of dust in its National Emphasis Program on combustible dust.

“The various government and industry definitions of combustible dust are not as different as petitioners suggest: each definition, with varying phrasing, refers similarly to particles that may explode under certain conditions.”

Because, in the court's view, there is a “general consensus” on what constitutes combustible dust, OSHA could have reasonably concluded that it didn't need to spell out a uniform definition in its final rule.

Rejecting the petitioners' claim that OSHA's final rule is unconstitutionally vague, Judge Rogers said
the rule, as well as a guidance document issued in 2013, “lay out reasonably consistent and clear instructions” on how employers should decide whether they have a combustible dust hazard.

Rogers rejected the petitioners' claim that, by failing to provide a definition, OSHA rendered its final rule unconstitutionally vague in violation of the Due Process Clause. The final rule, as well as a
guidance document issued in 2013, “lay out reasonably consistent and clear instructions” on how employers should decide whether they have a combustible dust hazard, the judge said.

The court concluded by noting that the petitioners had argued that the final rule violates their First Amendment rights by requiring them to communicate combustible dust hazards. However, the judge concluded, petitioners made this argument in a footnote, and the D.C. Circuit generally doesn't
address an argument “if a party buries it in a footnote and raises it in only a conclusory fashion.”

Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson and Thomas B. Griffith joined in the opinion.

Donald C. McLean of Arent Fox LLP represented the petitioners at oral argument. OSHA attorney Louise M. Betts represented the government.

Text of the opinion is available at


Friday, October 24, 2014

OSHA Stalls on Combustible Dust, NFPA Prepares New Standards

From Composites Manufacturing Magazine

OSHA Stalls on Combustible Dust, but NFPA Prepares New Standards

OSHA’s combustible dust rulemaking has been delayed, while the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is adding a new standard to address hazard  identification and control. These were key messages presented September  20 at a Small Business Administration event attend by ACMA staff.

The dust from grinding or cutting even highly filled composite laminates is  “combustible” when tested using OSHA’s approved test methods. OSHA has cited several composites manufacturers for failure to comply with the current version of NFPA Standard 654, notably for poor housekeeping and
locating cyclones and other dust collection equipment indoors.

Under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program for combustible dust, the agency is enforcing NFPA standards while it develops its own combustible dust rule. NFPA 654 is the standard for preventing fire and dust explosions from the manufacturing, processing, and handling of combustible particulate solids. Other NFPA standards apply to the hazards of agricultural, metals, wood and sulfur dusts.

According to the September 20 presentation, OSHA has acknowledged problems with the rulemaking. The agency is having trouble finding an approach that covers a wide variety of materials, process and equipment, and devising an enforceable definition of combustible dust.

In the meantime, OSHA is looking for other ways to address combustible dust hazards. Last
year’s update to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, for example, classified combustible dust as a “hazardous chemical” and requires employers to provide warnings to workers and customer about hazards and controls.

OSHA has reportedly contributed to the development of a new standard, NFPA 652, which will provide the basic principles of and requirements for identifying and managing the fire and explosion hazards of combustible dusts and particulate solids, and will direct users to other NFPA standards for industry and commodity-specific hazards, such as NFPA 654.

The Chemical Safety Board on July 25 issued its first ever “Most Wanted Safety Improvement” designation to highlight the importance of OSHA issuing a standard to address combustible dust
hazards. Several recent combustible dust incidents have killed and injured many workers.

A task group of ACMA’s Government Affairs Committee is reviewing the drafts of the proposed new NFPA 652 standard and the revised NFPA 654 standard. The deadlines for submission of comments are November 15, 2013 for NFPA 652, and July 2, 2014 for NFPA 654.

Explosion, two-alarm fire at wood pellet manufacturer

Explosion, two-alarm fire damages Banks wood pellet manufacturer

on July 31, 2014 at 8:37 PM, updated August 01, 2014 at 6:16 AM 

A wood pellet manufacture in Banks closed for the day after an explosion and two-alarm fire damaged the business early Thursday.

Four employees safely escaped the fire at West Oregon Wood Products on Northwest Sunset Avenue, said Banks Fire District  Chief Brian Coussens. The official cause of the explosion and fire are
still under investigation. The business creates wood pellets for stoves.

The incident was reported about 3:15 a.m., and the business' president, Mike Knobel, said equipment related to air filtration in the pellet creation process is suspected to have caused the explosion.

Several pieces of production equipment sustained severe fire-related damages, Coussens said. The blaze was extinguished with no injuries.

Knobel said he was grateful to the responding firefighters and that millwrights were assisting in inspecting the site to determine a cause.

The company has another plant in Columbia City and the fire in Banks isn't expected to affect West Oregon Wood Products' inventory, according to Knobel.

"We'll be down," he said, "but it will be for a short time."

Rebecca Woolington of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report.
-- Everton Bailey Jr.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Idaho Wood Pellet Plant Burns to Ground | Firehouse

Wood Pellet Plant Burns to Ground in Idaho

Aug. 05--GRANGEVILLE -- A wood pellet manufacturing building was destroyed by fire late Monday about a mile north of here along U.S. Highway 95.

The main production building owned by Rocky Canyon Pellet Company caught fire about 6 p.m. Monday, said Grangeville Rural Fire Chief Danny Tackett, and burned to the ground within less than three hours. The company makes pellets for wood stoves.

"It had a head start on us," Tackett said Monday night. "There was a lot of dust inside the building. It was an old building; it used to be an old horse barn."

This is the fourth time in the past eight or nine years, Tackett said, that the fire department has been called to a fire at the location.

Adjacent buildings, including a residence, were not harmed, he said, and no one was hurt in the fire. Equipment and stacks of pellets inside the building burned in the blaze, he said.

The cause of the fire was not known Monday night. Tackett said a state fire inspector is likely to visit the site within the next couple of days to determine the cause.

He did not know whether the building was insured.

Ten firefighters and three fire trucks were called to the scene. Firefighters were assisted by crews from the U.S. Forest Service, who helped ensure the fire did not spread to nearby grassy fields; Idaho
Forest Group; and Primeland Corp., which helped supply water.

Tackett said the owner of the company, Lot Smith of Grangeville, intends to resume production when the damage is repaired.

Hedberg may be contacted at (208) 983-2326.
Copyright 2014 - Lewiston Tribune, Idaho

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three injured in wood pellet mill explosion

Three injured in Burns Lake wood pellet mill explosion (updated)

One man suffered third-degree burns and two other employees were injured in an explosion at a wood pellet plant in Burns Lake on Thursday. Leroy Reitsma, president of Pinnacle Renewable Energy plant said a "fire-related incident" happened at the Burns Lake mill, located on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake, at around 8 a.m. Photograph by: Pinnacle Renewable Energy, ...

One man suffered third-degree burns and two other employees were injured in an explosion at a wood pellet plant in Burns Lake on Thursday.

Leroy Reitsma, president of the Pinnacle Renewable Energy plant said a “fire-related incident” happened at the Burns Lake mill, located on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake, at about 8 a.m. He said the fire broke out inside of some equipment used to dry wood fibre and it caused an explosion.

Pinnacle has been fined on several occasions for safety issues. In May, the pellet plant in Burns Lake was fined $48,483 for a failed safety inspection in December related to combustible dust, while its plant in Strathnaver south of Prince George was fined $36,223, also for safety lapses. Its plant in Quesnel was fined $31,380 following an inspection in May.

The fines were revealed in a Vancouver Sun report in August that showed seven of 10 wood pellet manufacturers failed WorkSafeBC inspections, according to information obtained through a freedom of information request.

Reitsma said Thursday’s explosion happened during a routine maintenance shutdown and the company is working with WorkSafeBC to investigate what happened.

WorkSafeBC received a call shortly after 9 a.m. and sent two investigators to the scene, said Scott McCloy, a spokesman for the work safety agency.

The Burns Lake plant was last inspected on June 17, and no problems were found, said McCloy, adding that “combustible dust issues were being managed.”

Other pellet plants that have received stop work orders over safety concerns are Okanagan Pellet in West Kelowna and Pacific BioEnergy in Prince George.

Pellet plants use wood shavings and sawdust that are compressed into pellets, which are used to fire boilers that produce electricity and steam, or are burned in wood stoves for heat.

An explosion caused extensive damage at Pacific BioEnergy’s pellet plant in Prince George in December 2010, where dust was cited as a factor ignited by a spark. That incident followed back-to-back explosions that rocked the pellet plant in March 2008.

WorkSafeBC has been conducting periodic inspection blitzes after explosions at two sawmills killed four workers and injured dozens of others in 2012.

The safety agency’s focus has mainly been on sawmills — which are showing some improvement in handling dust — but it has also been checking other wood plants.

Pellet plants have experienced explosions in the past, but no workers had been injured until now.
Firefighters from Burns Lake rushed to the plant around 8:30 a.m. By the time they arrived, the flames had been extinguished by its built-in suppression system, according to a statement from the municipality.

Babine Lake First Nation Chief Wilf Adam said he went to the Burns Lake hospital after he heard about the explosion because several members work at the mill. He witnessed one young man being brought in on a stretcher, while two other young men walked into the hospital with facial injuries.
“Two of the men looked really young, and they had bandages on their faces, but they looked like they were OK,” he said.

An employee reached Thursday afternoon refused to comment on the explosion, saying his employer told workers not to speak to the media.

RCMP Cpl. Dave Tyreman said the plant was evacuated after the explosion and about 30 employees were taken to a safe area.

The cause of the fire is unknown and RCMP and WorkSafeBC will continue to investigate.

Jobs Minister Shirley Bond, who oversees WorkSafeBC and implemented recent government changes to mill inspection procedures, noted that the mill had been inspected in June and there were no problems. As of Oct. 1, the government has two dedicated inspectors who examine pellet mills in the province on a monthly basis, she said Thursday at the legislature.

That development came after a report by government-appointed reviewer Gord Macatee into inspection problems at the province’s WorkSafeBC branch, which led to a lack of charges at other mill explosions, Bond said.

“There are 10 facilities in the province and we recognized after the Macatee report there needed to be a focused initiative to deal with pellet plants,” said Bond.
“I don’t want to speculate on what happened here. I’m told that the mill was actually in maintenance mode at the time of the incident.”

Recent WorkSafeBC changes mean that if inspectors find any reason for possible charges relating to the Pinnacle explosion that a separate investigative team will be brought in to preserve evidence related to pursuing that charge, Bond said.

“I wish I could promise to British Columbians today that we would not have workplace incidents,” Bond said. “I wish I could do that and sadly I can’t. What I can do is ensure the process we have in place creates the safest workplaces possible and when there is a tragic or unfortunate incident that we investigate it properly and make sure there are consequences when appropriate to employers.”

The Canadian Wood Pellet Association and The B.C. Forest Safety Council are working together to improve dust safety with the formation of a committee that includes all pellet manufacturers in B.C. A workshop in dust safety was held recently in Prince George.

With files from Gord Hoekstra, Brian Morton and Matthew Robinson

Thursday, October 16, 2014

OSHA Penalties Force Pet Food Manufacturer to Close

OSHA Standards, Penalties, Force Illinois Pet Food Manufacturer to Shutter

Posted: October 15, 2014, 9:55 a.m. EDT

All-Feed Processing and Packaging Inc. can’t afford to pay the penalties OSHA has levied for numerous safety violations and is now closing its doors.

In May, the agency hit All-Feed with $254,000 in fines for exposing workers to combustible-dust and respiratory hazards.

"Having spent basically every penny that we have to come into compliance, there’s just nothing left for the citations, said Tim Anderson, owner of All-Feed, whose factory is located in Galva and main
office in Alpha, Ill.

The company will continue production for two or three months to fulfill existing contracts with its customers; however, the company won’t take on any new contracts, Anderson added.

All-Feed provides grinding, cleaning and packaging services to the pet-food industry, and it also offers R&D services such as granulation, dehydration, roasting and separation for new products or packaging.

OSHA inspected All-Feed’s Galva plant in November 2013, responding to a complaint. The agency cited All-Feed for one repeat and five willful violations, alleging that the plant’s high concentration of airborne dust created an explosion hazard and could cause workplace-induced asthma and other illnesses.

The November 2013 inspection was the most recent in a slew of OSHA inspections dating back to January 2011, which landed All-Feed in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"All-Feed Processing and Packaging continues to demonstrate a complete disregard for the health and safety of its workers by failing to protect them from combustible dust hazards. These can ignite quickly, without warning, and can cause catastrophic damage,” said Tom Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria, Ill., in May 2014. "The employees at All-Feed deserve an employer that cares about their safety, and this company keeps failing to provide that.”

The company has not laid off or terminated any of the factory’s 20 workers, but it has reduced their hours, Anderson said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tips to extinguish factory fire risks

5 tips to extinguish factory fire risks

From PropertyCasualty360

5 tips to extinguish factory fire risks

Last week was National Fire Prevention Week, which commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed an estimated 300 people, left 100,000 homeless, and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. In honor of Fire Prevention Week, Zurich presents tips to prevent factory fires.

A factory fire can spell devastating consequences for a company and its employees. A fire at a factory or manufacturing facility can result in loss of life, injured workers, loss of wages from a factory shutdown, and production downtime. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), property losses at U.S. factories total nearly $1billion each year.

Factory fires can be caused by three common factors: hot work, combustible dust, or hydraulic fluid leaks. "Hot work" is defined as any process that can be a source of ignition when flammable material is present, such as welding. Zurich recommends companies don't use hot work if cold methods can be used instead. In instances where hot work is used, Zurich advises to remove combustible and flammable materials from the area and ventilate flammable vapors.

Make sure combustible dust does not accumulate to more than 1/32 of an inch. Use cleaning methods that prevent dust clouds from going up
into the air. For hydraulic fluids, make sure to inspect and properly maintain equipment to prevent a leak from occurring. (Click the chart on the right for more tips.)

Even with proper workplace prevention, accidents can still happen.

5 tips for factory owners to prepare a building and its occupants for the possibility of a fire.


1. Gather information. 

It is important to note any unoccupied floors in the building, get alarm system details, identify hydrant availability, get information on the fire protection systems as well as heating and cooling systems, and learn the quantities and locations of hazardous materials or machinery.  Make sure to list all tenants and get descriptions of their businesses, hours of operation and when they are on site, their location, contact information, and if they have employees with specific rescue needs.

2. Document and publish information.

Develop written fire plans that are easy to understand, accessible, and regularly updated. Include the information gathered on the previous page, including property and tenant data, as well as maps, diagrams, and drawings that reflect the building's construction, the surrounding property's configuration, or tenant dwellings. Include information like blueprints, floor plans, and aerial photographs of the building showing its size, height, and fire-related walls. File the information and
publish it in binders. Make the plan electronically accessible on your server or in the cloud as well.

3. Host building walk-throughs.

Invite the local fire department to visit the building periodically, especially in areas predominantly served by volunteer firefighters where officers frequently change. Letting the fire department get direct knowledge of a building may help save lives and minimize damage in the event of a fire.  Inspections and walk-throughs of complex buildings help familiarize current fire officers with your building's layout and could be helpful.

4. Practice, practice, practice. 

Conduct regular fire drills to inform employees of efficient and effective exit strategies in the event of a fire. Employees should be aware of the exits in their areas and how to safely reach them when they
need to evacuate the premises. Employees should meet at a pre-determined location after evacuating the building in order to take a head count.

5. Assign tasks. 

Appoint building fire wardens and assign them with evacuating building occupants in the event of a fire. Make sure to appoint specific people who are likly to be in the building at all hours to notify the
fire department in the event of an emergency. In these roles, owners and occupants are just as vital to a pre-fire plan as fire departments.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Biomass is more highly regulated than most people realize

US Industrial Pellet Association conference wraps with impassioned producer panel


USIPA conference wraps with impassioned producer panel

By Tim Portz | October 03, 2014

The 2014 Export Pellets Conference concluded with a panel comprised of a selection of the producer members of the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, moderated by the organization’s executive director, Seth Ginther.

The session began with brief updates from each of the producers about their accomplishments and activities from the previous year.

Joining the panel for the first time and introducing himself to the conference delegation was E-Pellets Group CEO Doug Albrecht. E-Pellets recently acquired the formally boarded up Louisiana Pacific OSB mill in Athens, Georgia, to convert it into a wood pellet production facility.

The facility is expected to produce 450,000 metric tons annually by August 2015.

Most notable during this introductory segment was an announcement from Zilkha Biomass CEO Jack Holmes that Zilkha’s first commercial-scale facility producing the much anticipated steam exploded pellets would be operational in January and expected to deliver its first shipment of pellets to Europe in March of 2015.

The bulk of the remaining discussion revolved around the continuing struggle producers are having placing their industry within the broader framework of North American forestry for skeptical foreign media outlets, nongovernmental organizations and policymakers. While earlier in the conference it was established that over 60 percent of British citizens support the use of biomass for power production, pelletproducers are wary of a vocal and well organized minority adamantly opposed to the use of woody biomass as a coal replacement.

A Sept. 28 story published in the London Sunday times was referenced during the Q&A session, in which the author of the article, Danny Fortson described the regulation of North American forestry as
“notoriously lax.”

Mike Williams of Westervelt Renewable Energy reacted to the quote and said, “We are more highly regulated than most people realize.” He cited the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency as federal regulations that impact the activities of all forestry practices. He continued by citing the company’s voluntary certification programs and said, “I would invite him [Fotrson] to participate in our Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council and Best Management Practice audits.

Morten Neraas, president and CEO from Green Circle added, “Often times people get on a crusade and begin to conveniently ignore the facts.” Ginther continued the conversation and recounted a meeting that he and USIPA Chairman Harold Arnold had with members of Greenpeace in England earlier this summer. “They simply had not taken a deep dive into how forestry worked,” said Ginther. Arnold followed Ginther and said, “I want to believe that these organizations have noble goals,” but then pivoted and called NGO practices “sensationalism” deployed largely to motivate the organization’s supporters to contribute more money to NGO coffers.

Despite the frustration, the panel was unanimous in their understanding that if they hoped to enjoy a long-term market opportunity in the U.K., this was a conversation they were going to have to
continue to engage in. “The utilities are telling us to give them what they need to prove that what they are doing is sustainable and legal,and we need to be able to do that,” said Williams.

As the panel drew to a close, producers were asked to imagine what the pellet market would like in 2027 as the subsidies that support their use in British power plants expire that year. Ginther suggested that the industry would need to begin thinking and strategizing about how to become “subsidy independent” and others on the panel referred to the end of subsidies as a “cliff” that was now just over a decade away.

Production and transportation efficiencies were all mentioned and progress in those categories were expected and cited, but no panelist thought these improvements and savings would be enough. “The cost of the fuel will never drive all of the cost reductions needed,” said Arnold.

While power stations in the U.S. and Canada were mentioned as potential candidates for future market growth, the panel cited a strong coal lobby and low shale gas prices as a barrier to the growth of that market.

Before the panel wrapped, Williams returned to the question of the industry’s overall sustainability and wondered aloud, “I just don’t understand how people would think we would destroy the resource that we rely on for our business.”

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.

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