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US Report on Chemical Safety and Security Issued

by Barbara Foster on July 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm · in Barbara's Blog, Industry News, Safety

Chemical safety and security in the USA

On June 6, a working group of Federal departments and agencies issued a report to President Obama titled Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security – A Shared Commitment. This report is the result of Executive Order 13650, issued in August, 2013, requesting these departments and agencies to:

  • Strengthen community planning and preparedness;
  • Enhance Federal operational coordination;
  • Improve data management within the Federal government, and improve information sharing;
  • Modernize policies and regulations, to reflect the most up-to-date practices; and
  • Incorporate stakeholder feedback and developing best practices.

The report recognizes that chemical facilities represent a serious challenge for both safety and security. For example, the recent explosion in West, Texas shows the devastation that can be caused when safety systems fail where large quantities of hazardous chemicals are stored. Therefore, government and industry must work together to make facilities and the communities around them as safe and secure as possible.

Steps taken so far include:

  • Meetings with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with emergency responders across the country to increase preparedness and share lessons learned.
  • Launching a regional pilot program in New York and New Jersey to allow all levels of government to coordinate chemical facility preparedness planning and response activities.
  • Sharing data to identify facilities that, based on filings, may not yet be in compliance with required regulations.
  • Updating online systems to integrate facility data and to assist facility compliance.
  • Work on clarifying and updating procedures for chemicals such as ammonium nitrate and liquefied natural gases.
  • Expanding training and guidance for EPA inspectors.
  • Launching the Lessons Learned Information System (LLIS), an online best practices repository.

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Be Safe This Summer . . . and Somebody Wake Up Larry!

by Bob Holder on May 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm · in Safety

Be Safe this Summer

As summer approaches and you consider hiring extra hands, make sure those hands are trained. The kind of hands I am referring to are those that are weary from holding textbooks. Kids out of school are going to be looking for summer jobs. Ah, Summer. Summer means cutting the grass, lighting up the grill, the smell of a sunscreen and mosquito repellant cocktail, weeding the garden, and setting off fireworks. Whether they run a cash register, or clean hotel rooms, proper training is needed. People often think of training as learning to do something “right”, but doing it right also means doing it “safely”. Loss of life is supposed to come before loss of profit, isn’t it? Let’s make sure these kids come back next summer. Training is important, especially if those hands you hire will be operating machinery or certain tools. Often, this training could involve the use of certain tools such as copy machines, drills, shovels, saws, espresso machines or a deep fryer. Don’t expect someone to walk, right in, and assume they know what they are doing.  It’s not only a bad business decision, but it’s often dangerous.
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When is “Approved” Not Approved? – Storing Flammables in IBC

by Clifton Brown on April 14, 2014 at 8:00 am · in Clifton's Blog, Safety

NFPA has initiated an awareness campaign on dangers of storing flammable/combustible liquids in composite intermediate bulk containers (IBC)…

Earlier this month the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) launched a campaign to raise awareness regarding the fire risk posed by indoor storage of flammable or combustible liquids in IBC.

The hazards are considered particularly significant in plastic or the ubiquitous composite (“bottle-in-cage”- UN 31H’Z’1 type) IBC. These containers may not provide resistance under fire conditions and can release significant volumes of liquid; as well as the plastic itself subsequently contributing to the fire. The resulting intensity of heat may overwhelm fire protection systems and lead to catastrophic events in storage/processing buildings.

Although IBC may be “authorized” for shipping flammable/combustible liquids under transportation regulations, these approvals do not automatically extend to storage which is under the jurisdiction of other agencies. The UN standards on the design, testing and use of IBC do not specifically address fire resistance testing of IBC as part of the protocol. While in general PG I, and some PG II, Class 3 substances may not be transported in IBC, the testing required to qualify as UN standardized packaging are based on strength performance testing.
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OSHA’s Stand-Down: A Midterm Exam

by Bob Holder on March 31, 2014 at 8:00 am · in GHS (OSHA HazCom & WHMIS 2.0), Safety

Stand down, as in Whoa, Nelly! OSHA is asking everyone stop the press, step back and to briefly revisit fall protection and prevention in the workplace. More than 1/3 of all deaths on the construction site can be attributed to falls. OSHA has set the dates June 2-4, 2014 as a National Safety Stand-Down under its Fall Prevention campaign which aims to raise awareness and communication between employers and employees regarding falls from ladders, scaffolding and roofs. It’s a voluntary campaign and well worth the effort.

So, sit down, grab a cup of Joe and let’s chew the fat. Call it a “coffee break” if you want, just take a few moments to re-focus, remind and re-assess safety. As you attempt to get your coffee just the right color, we can discuss the Plan, Provide, and Train initiative. OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)’s version of kryptonite for fall hazards. The 3-Step information sharing process consists of:

PLAN ahead to get the job done safely

PROVIDE the right equipment

TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

Think of this as a mid-term exam, or formative assessment. Formative assessments are like having lots of little exams every month, assessing your knowledge, progress and comprehension as you move along- not waiting until the end of the term only to find out you turned left when you should have turned right about six months ago.
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Fertilizer Plant Explosion in West, Texas

by ICC Compliance Center on April 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm · in Uncategorized

By now most people have heard about the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX. CNN is reporting several (5-15) fatalities and over 200 injured. Located north of Waco, TX and approximately 75 miles south of Dallas, TX on I-35 and it has a reported population of 2,700 people. This information may be premature as reports are still coming in as of 0900 (CST) on April 18, 2013.

One emergency worker who had been reported as missing, a constable serving as a volunteer firefighter, has been found in a hospital with critical injuries. Three or four first responders, among the first to fight the fire before the fertilizer plant exploded shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, 2013 remain missing. And there is a confirmation that there are at least 2 emergency responders who received fatal injuries.

The plant is surrounded by homes and businesses which included a nearby apartment complex with about 50 units and a nursing home and a middle school that had been destroyed. Also there were between 50-75 homes that were destroyed.
According to eyewitnesses, “It was a small fire and then water got sprayed on the ammonium nitrate, and it exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb.”
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