Friday, January 29, 2016

U.S. Chemical Safety Board

U.S. Chemical Safety Board

CSB - U.S. CHEMICAL SAFETY BOARD -- An independent federal agency investigating chemical accidents to protect workers, the public, and the environment
U.S. Chemical Safety Board Releases New Safety Video, "Dangerously Close: Explosion in West, Texas,” Detailing Report Findings and Recommendations on 2013 Fatal West Fertilizer Company Explosion and Fire

January 29, 2016, Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a safety video into the fatal April 17, 2013, fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, which resulted in 15 fatalities, more than 260 injuries, and widespread community damage. The deadly fire and explosion occurred when about thirty tons of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) exploded after being heated by a fire at the storage and distribution facility.

The CSB’s newly released 12-minute safety video entitled, “Dangerously Close: Explosion in West, Texas,” includes a 3D animation of the fire and explosion as well as interviews with CSB investigators and Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. The video can be viewed on the CSB’s website and YouTube.

Chairperson Sutherland said, “This tragic accident should not have happened. We hope that this video, by sharing lessons learned from our West Fertilizer Company investigation, will help raise awareness of the hazards of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate so that a similar accident can be avoided in the future.”

The CSB’s investigation found that several factors contributed to the severity of the explosion, including poor hazard awareness and fact that nearby homes and business were built in close proximity to the West Fertilizer Company over the years prior to the accident. The video explains that there was a stockpile of 40 to 60 tons of ammonium nitrate
stored at the facility in plywood bins on the night of the explosion. And although FGAN is stable under normal conditions, it can violently detonate when exposed to contaminants in a fire.

In the video, Team Lead Johnnie Banks says, “We found that as the city of West crept closer and closer to the facility, the surrounding community was not made aware of the serious explosion hazard in their midst. And the West Fertilizer Company underestimated the danger of storing fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate in ordinary combustible structures.”

The CSB investigation concludes that this lack of awareness was due to several factors, including gaps in federal regulatory coverage of ammonium nitrate storage facilities. The video details safety recommendations made to OSHA and the EPA to strengthen their regulations to protect the public from hazards posed by FGAN.

Finally, the video explains how inadequate emergency planning contributed to the tragic accident. The CSB found that the West Volunteer Fire Department was not required to perform pre-incident planning for an ammonium nitrate-related emergency, nor were the volunteer firefighters required to attend training on responding to fires involving hazardous chemicals. As a result, the CSB made several safety recommendations to various stakeholders, including the EPA, to
better inform and train emergency responders on the hazards of FGAN and other hazardous chemicals.

Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “The CSB’s goal is to ensure that no one else be killed or injured due to a lack of awareness of hazardous chemicals in their communities. If adopted, the Board’s recommendations can help prevent disasters like the one in West, Texas.”

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry
standards, and safety management systems. The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety  recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Please visit our website,

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at or by phone at 202.446.8095.

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2175 K. Street, NW | Washington, DC 20037-1809 

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

It Only Takes a Second . . .

It takes a minute to write a safety rule.
It takes an hour to hold a safety meeting.
It takes a week to plan a good safety program.
It takes a month to put that program into operation.
It takes a year to win a safety award.
It takes a lifetime to make a safe worker.

But it only takes a second to destroy it all—with one accident.
Take time NOW to work safely and
help your fellow employees to be safe.

One is too many.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Over 15,000 NFPA definitions for free! - National Fire Protection Association Blog

From National Fire Protection Association Blog

Over 15,000 NFPA definitions for free!

 The 2016 edition of the NFPA Glossary of Terms (GOT) has been published and is available for FREE online. Visit to download your copy.

The GOT is a list of the defined terms in all of NFPA's published codes, standards, guides and recommended practices. Over 15,000 terms are listed alphabetically and assembled into a free PDF available on the NFPA website. The document is used in a number of ways. It helps NFPA Technical Committees who are looking to define new terms or compare
existing terms. It also helps members of the public who are interested in learning about how NFPA documents define specific terms. The GOT contains the following details about each term:

Term: The word being defined.

Definition:The description of the term.

Document (Edition): Where the term and definition are found (document #) and the edition year of that document.

Document Defining Same Term: A list of all documents that also define the same term.

Document Using Same Definition: A list of all documents that also define the same term in the exact same way.

See the figure below for an example of how the GOT is organized. The
term "Barrel" is defined in 4 documents- NFPA 1, 30, 59A, and 80.  NFPA 1
and NFPA 30 both define the term in the exact same way. The first 3
definitions refer to a unit of volume while the last  definition, from
NFPA 80, refers to a rolling steel door component.To learn more about
any of the documents defining a term, visit the NFPA Document
Information pages- doc #). For example, NFPA 80 can
be found at


Monday, January 18, 2016

“It Doesn’t Apply to Me”

Using Listening to Avoid "Deadly" Resolutions

Using Listening to Avoid "Deadly" Resolutions

 Jeff Griffin

Director of Sales & Business Development at Fauske & Associates, LLC

Using Listening to Avoid "Deadly" Resolutions

While catching up on my reading from before the holidays, I ran across a short piece in EHS Today,
which gave a “Top-5 List” of the industries that are most "at risk" for combustible dust explosions. I appreciate these types of articles, and New Year’s lists in general because they are good for raising awareness about important topics and motivating change. As someone in the safety industry, I am most interested in those lists that address the risks found in industry, whether with combustible dust, flammability, orthermal hazards.

“It Doesn’t Apply to Me”

The danger with looking at anyone else's list is that it is easy to take a quick look and infer that the list “does not apply to me”. This happens a lot when dealing with process safety. I have found this to be particularly true of people who are dealing with combustible dusts. Many people assume that only certain industries have ‘real’ problem with their dust. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. In fact, the new NFPA 652 Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust was authored to prevent omissions from occurring when it comes to safe practices with dust.

The reason for this is that formerly, many industries had separate standards governing the risks associated with their dusts. For example, there are standards for agricultural and food companies (NFPA 61), for metals (NFPA 484) and woodworking facilities (NFPA 664).  The diversity of standards made it easy for non-experts to be confused about what the correct approach to hazard mitigation should be.

While there are certainly key differences across industries, the consolidated standard (NFPA 652) reinforces that there are certain best practices to be considered by all companies regardless of the industry or the material being handled. Best practices include testing the specific dust at your facility (even if  published values exist that are ‘close’ to the material at your facility), AND conducting a Dust Hazard Assessment (DHA) to ensure that risks are appropriately addressed.

Avoiding Deadly Resolutions

The example given here focuses on combustible dust, but the principle is true across industries. There are ample best practices found on industry and governmental websites, and there plenty of experts willing to chime in.

As we make our task lists to kick off the new year, let’s make the prevention of severe accidents in ALL industries the first line item on our lists.

Friday, January 15, 2016

OSHA's Top 10 List

OSHA's Top 10 most cited violations for fiscal year 2015 | December 2015 | Safety+Health Magazine

OSHA's Top 10 most cited violations

Growing data and changing inspection strategies

November 22, 2015

The Top 10 list of OSHA’s most-frequently cited violations for fiscal year 2015 may look similar
to last year’s, but change is happening behind the scenes.

One year ago, OSHA began collecting additional data from employers on amputations and hospitalizations; the resulting information has led to the agency “engaging with every employer” involved in the reported incidents, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of
Enforcement Activities, said in an exclusive interview with Safety+Health.

In September, OSHA announced it will move away from tallying each inspection equally and instead will use a weighted system based on how complicated the inspection may be. The new system is intended to place greater value on complex inspections and allow for easier strategic planning on OSHA’s part.

Additionally, the agency is continuing other efforts – including focused inspections across the country – to mitigate high-hazard threats, such as those related to ergonomics and working at height.
Employers who want to avoid being cited for one of the “Top 10” violations need to be proactive.

“We continue to encourage employers to abate hazards before an OSHA inspection and, more importantly, before a worker gets hurt,” Kapust told S+H.

Most-cited violations, fiscal year 2015
Data current as of Oct. 8, 2015

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Which Industries are at Risk for Combustible Dust Explosions?

From EHS Today

What Are the Industries at Risk for Combustible Dust Explosions?

FR clothing company Workrite Uniform Co. encourages workplace safety by highlighting the top five at-risk industries.

Combustible dust, accumulated particulate solids with the potential to ignite and create a flash fire hazard, is a present danger for a number of industries. However, workers can reduce burn injury with the use of flame-resistant (FR) clothing.

Personal protective equipment manufacturers are the “go-to” experts in the use of PPE: Their representatives serve on ANSI, NFPA and ASTM committees and much of the research and development and testing of PPE is done by manufacturers.

According to Workrite Uniform Co., employers need to ensure that FR clothing is UL-certified
to NFPA 2112, the “Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire.”

Workrite created a “Top 5” list of industries that face the highest risk of combustible dust explosions to generate awareness among employers and workers.

Food Production
- Many agricultural products – such as sugar, grains, egg whites and even powdered milk – carry a risk of combustion under the right conditions. Workers in the agricultural industry should be aware of the inherent risk of handling, transporting and storing these products.

Synthetic Manufacturing
– Materials that are common in synthetic manufacturing – including rubber, plastics and other man-made substances – can create combustible dust clouds with the potential to ignite.

– Frequently cutting, grinding, sanding and polishing wood can generate a significant amount of sawdust, which is able to easily combust in certain conditions such as being ignited by a spark from a nearby machine.

Metal Processing
– Dust from metals like aluminum, chromium, iron, magnesium and zinc is combustible, and many of the activities in a metal processing environment can produce heat and sparks.

Recycling Facilities
– Recycling facilities handle a wide variety of materials, and the sorting, processing, handling and transporting of these materials increases the risk of explosions caused by combustible dust.

To help combat the heightened risk of combustible dust explosions, it is important for workplaces to perform risk assessments, keep work areas clean, conduct regular inspections and ensure that employees wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

For detailed information, review NFPA 654, which is the industry standard that provides the safety measures to prevent and mitigate fires and dust explosions in facilities that handle combustible particulate solids.

For more information on combustible dust and other safety hazards, industry standards and the role of FR clothing in workplace safety,visit