Showing posts from 2012

Flashover: the Power of Fire

Top 5 most watched NFPA videos of 2012 - #4 - National Fire Protection Association Blog

From the top 5 watched NFPA videos of 2012, this video shows the power of fire, how quickly it can spread, and that you need to get out of the area to prevent getting caught in a flashover:

Top 5 most watched NFPA videos of 2012 - #4 As we mentioned in our last blog post, we are counting down the top 5 most popular NFPA videos of 2012. In case you missed it, check out the video that came in 5th place now.

The 4th place video of 2012 is "Flashover: the Power of Fire."
Flashover is the point in which everything in your home catches fire -- no one can survive. See how quickly flashover can occur and how it can be prevented. Home fire sprinklers save lives and property from fire. They act before the fire department is even notified. In this video, we show what happens while a house is burning and the local fire department is on its way.

Normalization of Deviation

Safety Culture Implications of Normalization of Deviation, sometimes also called a "Normalcy Bias". 

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to a mental state people enter when facing a possible problem or disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a the problem or disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a fire or explosion, or disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

As applied to the combustible dust processing industries, we have seen the im…
Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas to All! Thanks, everyone, for making the world a little safer every day.


I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care;
I had the time, and I was there.

But I didn’t want to seem a fool,
Or argue over a safety rule.
I knew he’d done the job before;
If I spoke up he might get sore.

The chances didn’t seem that bad;
I’d done the same, he knew I had.
So I shook my head and walked by;
He knew the risks as well as I.

He took the chance, I closed an eye;
And with that act, I let him die.
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.

Now every time I see his wife,
I know I should have saved his life.
That guilt is something I must bear;
But isn’t’ something you need to share.

If you see a risk that others take
That puts their health or life at stake,
The question asked or thing you say;

Combustible Dust: What Woodworkers Need to Know

From Woodworking network, an excellent article by Jamison Scott with Air Handling Systems on the health and safety issues associated with combustible wood dust.

ComDust: What Woodworkers Need to Know
By Jamison Scott | 11/28/2012 1:22:00 PM

Editor's note: An edited version of this article is in the print and digital editions of December Wood & Wood Products. Below is the article in its entirety.
The occurrences and severity of combustible wood dust related fires have been increasing, resulting in an increase in OSHA inspections. Combustible dust is a serious issue. It has become a top health and safety issue in the woodworking industry. While the first reported combustible dust fire occurred in a 1785 at a flour mill in Italy and over two hundred years later in 2008 a major sugar refinery in the state of Georgia exploded due to combustible dust, in 2012, the woodworking industry saw a major sawmill in British Columbia, Canada, launch a fire ball report…

What are the fundamentals of combustible dusts?

From the NFPA Today Blog.  There will soon be a new NFPA Standard on Combustible Dust, NFPA 652.  This article is an excellent primer on combustible dust, and describes the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, based on four basic concepts in each of the other NFPA combustible dust standards: hazard identification, hazard assessment, hazard management, and management systems.

Basically, you have to first know whether your dust is combustible, and many if not most dusts or "fines" created in manufacturing are potentially combustible, and you have to manage the risks, namely fugitive dust and ignition sources.

What are the fundamentals of combustible dusts? - National Fire Protection Association Blog

What are the fundamentals of combustible dusts? With the request to enter into a revision cycle approved by the Standards Council, the Preliminary Daft of NFPA 652, Standard on Combustible Dust, is now accepting public input until January 4, 2013.

The big question circling this docu…

Wood Plant ComDust Investigations


"Combustible sawdust turned up in unacceptable levels in 48 of 83 wood and forest products plants inspected..."

Plywood, Wood Plant ComDust Investigations Top Week's Reports
Combustible sawdust turned up in unacceptable levels in 48 of 83 wood and forest products plants inspected in British Columbia this summer, says the Vancouver Sun newspapers.

While the government agency WorkSafeBC had been inspecting sawmills and later plywood, pulp and secondary wood products firms, the newspaper's freedom of information request  named names and forced more public disclosure by the agency.

Plywood firms (West Fraser and Tolko are just two examples) were ordered to clean up; as well as secondary wood products manufacturers (some examples are C&C Wood, Teal Cedar, and Northern Engineered Wood Products). A complete list is at this link.

Combustible dust explosions racked two British Columbia sawmills earlier this year, killing four and injuring 5…

Wood Pellet Maker Settles OSHA ComDust Complaint

This story is an example of a process that manufactures "fuel", a wood pellet operation, and how critical it is to provide hazard analysis and the right engineering and administrative controls to help prevent fires and explosions. The proper safety systems can help protect processes that produce combustible dust from loss of production, injury, life safety, business continuity, OSHA fines, reputation in the industry and community, as well as the mental and emotional well being of employees.

The video below shows smoke from the storage silo, and the fire chief describes how an ember was allegedly created in a pelletizer, and was conveyed to the pellet cooler, where fire traveled from the cooler to the dust collector, and silo.  This is a common fire and explosion scenario in the pellet manufacturing process.
From Woodworking network.
Wood Pellet Maker Settles OSHA ComDust Complaint

By Rich Christianson | 11/29/2012 2:25:00 PM

BOSTON – New England W…

Possible Jail Time in ComDust Explosions

This is a real possibility. With willful safety violations, not only do you risk losing production, business continuity, life safety, reputation, insurance coverage, but also possible jail time.

Fines, Possible Jail Time in BC ComDust Explosions

 By Karen M. Koenig | 12/04/2012 1:39:00 PM

VANCOUVER - Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills could each face fines of up to $652,000 if found guilty of violating the Workers Compensation Act. Combustible dust explosions racked the two British Columbia sawmills earlier this year, killing four and injuring 52 others.

Although unlikely, up to six months jail time is also possible, news sources report.

Late last week, the Canadian provincial WorkSafeBC agency referred to national government legal agencies its investigation work in the Jan. 19 Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake and April 23 Lakeland Mills in Prince George. In each case, combustible dust and dust accumulation were found to be contributing factor…

Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities

NFPA :: Research :: Statistical reports :: Occupancies :: Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities

Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities
Report: NFPA's "Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities"
Author:Ben Evarts
Issued: April 2012 

An overview of industrial and manufacturing property fires, including trend tables, causes, time of day, day of week, month of year, and area of origin. 

During 2006-2010, an estimated 42,800 fires in or at industrial or manufacturing properties (including utility, defense, agriculture, and mining) were reported to U.S. fire departments per year, with associated annual losses of 22 civilian deaths, 300 civilian injuries, and $951 million in direct property damage.Seventy percent of these fires occurred outside or in unclassified locations, 20% occurred in structures and 9% in vehicles.Two-thirds (66%) of the combined industrial or manufacturing facility structure fires occurred specifically…

Wood Pellet opperator agrees to correct explosion and fire hazards

New England Wood Pellet agrees to correct explosion and fire hazards at New Hampshire facility following US Labor Department actions

OSHA Regional News ReleaseU.S. Department of Labor
Office of Public Affairs
Region 1
Region 1 News Release: 12-2265-BOS/BOS 2012-314
Nov. 28, 2012
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald    Andre J. Bowser
Phone: 617-565-2075    617-565-2074
New England Wood Pellet agrees to correct explosion and fire hazards
at New Hampshire facility following US Labor Department actions
Jaffrey wood pellet manufacturer also will hire independent expert, pay $100,000 OSHA fine

BOSTON – After enforcement actions taken in relation to a series of explosions and fires at its Jaffrey, N.H., manufacturing plant, New England Wood Pellet LLC will take systemic and substantive steps to prevent any further recurrences as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The …

A Detailed Look Into OSHA under U.S Presidents

A Detailed Look Into OSHA under U.S Presidents | Compliance and Safety Blog
From Comliance and Safety Blog an article on OSHA Fines unner each of the last presidents.
A Detailed Look Into OSHA under U.S PresidentsNovember 24, 2012Democrats and Republicans could not be more different in their fundamental views of government spending and regulation but are these views reflected in their administration of OSHA?
OSHA Fines Under U.S PresidentsIncreasing maximum OSHA fines requires action from Congress which has been repeatedly blocked under the current Republican congress. However, that hasn’t stopped OSHA from finding other ways to increase fines under the leadership of Obama-appointed David Michaels, such as increasing minimum mandatory fines and increasing the window whereby an employer can be clasisfied as a ‘repeat offender.’  These changes have resulted in record years for OSHA fines, as evident in the charts below.

OSHA fines, often called a ‘hidden tax’ by critics, first explo…

Combustible Dust Winter Alert - Increased Risk

Combustible Dust Winter Alert - Increased Risk


The risk of a dust explosion increases when low humidity levels, like those seen in winter months, make dust easy to disperse and ignite. In fact, industrial accident investigations by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board found that seven out of eight fatal combustible dust explosions from 1995 to 2009 occurred during cold winter months when these weather conditions were most prominent.
One of the two tragic sawmill incidents in British Columbia occurred in the middle of winter, the second occurred in early spring.
A number of changes can commonly occur in wood processing facilities as the weather becomes colder.
      * Control measures and clean up practices that rely on the use of water may not be suitable or effective
     * Openings such as bay doors and wall dampers may be closed up increasing the degree of enclosure and reducing natural ventilation or make up air
     * Ventilation may be red…

Update to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program | OSHA Law Update

OSHA Law Update

From Epstein Becker Green, OSHA Law Update blog.Posted on October 31st, 2012 by Eric J. ConnUpdate to OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group

Back in September, we posted an article critiquing OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”) in general, and the newly announced “exit criteria” in particular.  Since that time, in the beginning of October, OSHA updated its embarrassing SVEP Log that it maintains for public consumption on the OSHA website.  With the new data included on the SVEP Log, we thought this would be a good time to provide an update about the SVEP, including:
The types of employers and industries that OSHA is most frequently qualifying for the program;The OSHA Regions that are most active in the SVEP;The pace at which new employers are added to the program; andOther useful information. As a reminder, on June 18, 2010 OSHA implemented the SVEP to focus OSH…

Dust Explosion Hazards in Pharmaceutical Facilities

From Pharmaceutical Processing and, a good article on combustible dust explosion mitigation in the pharmaceutical industries by Dr. Vahid Ebadat.

Dust Explosion Hazards in Pharmaceutical Facilities

By Vahid Ebadat, Ph.D., Chilworth Technology, Inc.  Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Many of the solid ingredients, or excipients, used in the formulation of pharmaceutical oral solid dosage (OSD) forms have been shown to be combustible. As a result, operations typically found in this type of facility have the potential to generate explosible dust cloud atmospheres. Recognized explosion, or deflagration hazards will necessarily influence process equipment specifications, design of air handling and conditioning systems, electrical area classification, and room construction in order to achieve applicable code compliance. It is therefore necessary for OSD manufacturers to clearly understand the explosion hazards presented by the materials utilized in their processes, and be a…

Dust Collection: Dust collection systems get smaller, greener and safer

From a good article on state of the art in dust collection.

Dust collection systems get smaller, greener and safer How to clean up with economic and safety benefits. By J. Stanton McGroarty, CMfgE, CMRP, senior technical editor

Government agencies in the United States have played a significant part in the dissemination of dust collection equipment. “In terms of air quality, OSHA wants clean air inside for the employees, and EPA wants clean air outside for the public,” says Patrick Ostrenga, a retired 34-year veteran of OSHA and founder of Occupational Safety and Health Auditing, Compliance Assistance Services ( An important safety issue driving dust collection is the danger of fire and explosion from some kinds of dust.
“I’ve studied several dust explosions due to combustible dust,” says Ostrenga. “Cornstarch was one that blew in a candy plant. Until the demolition of the old Schlitz/Pillsbury elevator in the late 1990s, none of the old grain el…

NFPA Guide to Combustible Dusts

NFPA Guide to Combustible Dusts, 2012 Edition

NFPA Guide to Combustible Dusts The NFPA has been extremely active on combustible dust recently. NFPA 61 and 654 have been revised and will be reissued in the next two weeks, and I just found this 300+ page guide they released that appears to be very comprehensive. NFPA® Guide to Combustible Dusts, 2012 Get the industry's first and only guide to dust hazards. Order the all-new 2012 NFPA Guide to Combustible Dust today!
Authors: Walter L. Frank, P.E. and Samuel A. Rodgers, P.E.
Be proactive with the industry's first and only guide to dust hazards, the NFPA® Guide to Combustible Dusts.
Any dust event could have a devastating effect on your workers, your company, and your community -- and there are significant fines for the presence of dust hazards in any facility. Address dust safety hazards effectively with the NFPA Guide to Combustible Dusts, the vital new resource for everyone who deals with materials or proce…