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“Terrorism Concerns Results in Chemical Storage Rule Delay” #WestTexasFire #Chemicals

The Trump administration is delaying a new rule tightening safety requirements for companies that store large quantities of dangerous chemicals. The rule was imposed after a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, exploded in 2013, killing 15 people.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, delayed the effective date of the Obama-era rule until June.

Pruitt’s action late Monday came in response to complaints by the chemical industry and other business groups that the rule could make it easier for terrorists and other criminals to target refineries, chemical plants, and other facilities by requiring companies to make public the types and quantities of chemicals stored on site.

The EPA issued a final rule in January, seven days before President Barack Obama left office. The EPA said at the time that the rule would help prevent accidents and improve emergency preparedness by allowing first responders better data on chemical storage.

A coalition of business groups opposed the rule, saying in a letter to Pruitt that it would do “irreparable harm” to companies that store chemicals and put public safety at risk.

Chet Thompson, president and CEO of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, an industry group, praised Pruitt’s delay of the EPA rule.

“The midnight rulemaking in the final days of the Obama administration would not enhance safety, create security vulnerabilities and divert resources from further enhancing existing safety programs,” Thompson said.

Environmental groups questioned industry claims as “self-interested” and misleading.

Hazardous chemical incidents like the explosion in West, Texas, are “frighteningly common,” according to the Environmental Justice Health Alliance, an advocacy group. More than 1,500 chemical releases or explosions were reported from 20014 to 2013, causing 58 deaths and more than 17,000 injuries, the group said.

Instead of bowing to industry complaints, the EPA should “stand with the first responders, at-risk communities, safety experts, workers, small businesses and others who live at daily risk of a catastrophic chemical release or explosion,” the group wrote in a letter last month to members of Congress.

The Obama-era rule came after a three-year process that included eight public hearings and more than 44,000 public comments, the group said.

The Obama administration said the rule would help prevent chemical incidents such as the 2013 explosion in Texas, while enhancing emergency preparedness requirements, improving management of data on chemical storage and modernizing policies and regulations.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said the Obama-era rule gives “a blueprint to those who would like to do us harm,” adding that existing regulations will remain in place to continue ensuring the safety of chemical plants and other facilities.

Source: Insurance Journal

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“CSB Releases New Safety Video Detailing Investigation into 2013 Fatal Fire and Explosion at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, LA”

January 25, 2017, Washington, DC –

Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a safety video of its investigation of the June 13, 2013 explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar, Louisiana, which killed two workers and injured an additional 167.  The deadly explosion and fire occurred when a heat exchanger containing flammable liquid propane violently ruptured.

The CSB’s newly released 12-minute safety video entitled, “Blocked In,” includes a 3D animation of the explosion and fire as well as interviews with CSB investigator Lauren Grim and Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. The video is based on the CSB’s case study on the Williams incident and can be viewed on the CSB’s website and YouTube.

Chairperson Sutherland said, “Our investigation on the explosion at Williams describes an ineffective process safety management program at the plant at the time of the incident. We urge other companies to incorporate our recommendations at their facilities and to assess the state of their cultures to promote safety at all organizational levels to prevent a similar accident. ”

The CSB’s investigation found many process safety management program deficiencies at Williams, which set the stage for the incident. In particular, the CSB found that the heat exchanger that failed was completely isolated from its pressure relief valve.

In the video, Investigator Lauren Grim said, “When evaluating overpressure protection requirements for heat exchangers, engineers must think about how to manage potential scenarios, including unintentional hazards. In this case, simply having a pressure relief valve available could have prevented the explosion.”

The CSB investigation concluded that in the twelve years leading to the incident, a series of process safety management program deficiencies caused the heat exchanger to be unprotected from overpressure.  As revealed in the investigation, during that time Management of Change Reviews, Pre-Startup Safety Reviews, and Process Hazard Analyses all failed to effectively identify and control the hazard.

In addition, the CSB found that Williams failed to develop a written procedure for activities performed on the day of the incident, nor did the company have a routine maintenance schedule to prevent the operational heat exchanger from needing to be shut down for cleaning.

Finally, the video describes CSB’s recommendations made to the Williams Geismar plant which  encourages similar companies to review and incorporate into their own facilities. These include:

– Conduct safety culture assessments that involve workforce participation, and communicate the results in reports that recommend specific actions to address safety culture weaknesses

– Develop a robust safety indicators tracking program that uses the data identified to drive continual safety improvement

– And perform comprehensive process safety program assessments to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of the facility’s process safety programs.

“Managers must implement and then monitor safety programs and encourage a strong culture of safety to protect workers and the environment,” Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said,

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. CSB investigations examine 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, http://www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at public@csb.gov or by phone at 202.446.8095.

 

“Confined Spaces – Supervisor Safety Tip Series” #ConfinedSpace #Safety

Developed by Vivid’s Chief Safety Officer Jill James, a former OSHA inspector, this series examines real hazards in real work environments. This safety tip video explains ways to stay safe while working with Confined Spaces.

Confined spaces are enclosed or partially enclosed spaces of a size such that a worker can squeeze entry for performing assigned work through a narrow opening—they’re tough to get in and out of, tight spaces. These spaces are normally only entered to perform specific tasks and then barricaded to prevent unauthorized access.

As an example, think of a large tank used for holding liquid. Sometimes, these storage units or big containers need to be cleaned out, so you send a worker to get inside and they’re completely surrounded by walls of the structure, with only a small entry/exit hatch for escape if things go awry. Confined spaces create the ideal conditions for the onset of claustrophobia. Confined spaces can be large or small and above or below ground.

This video covers:

Source: Vivid Learning Systems

“11 Tips for Handling Hazardous Materials”

Don’t become a target for one of these avoidable citations! Join us on March 29 for an in-depth webinar presented by Meaghan Boyd, a seasoned environmental litigation partner at Alston & Bird, as she discusses best practices for hazardous materials transportation.

You’ll learn:

  • How to identify hazardous materials ahead of transport
  • What type of training is required for people who offer transport of hazardous materials
  • How to determine appropriate packaging, marking and labeling when transporting a hazardous material
  • Penalties for not properly labeling or shipping a “hazardous material”
  • How to apply for DOT special permits
  • “Hot topics” in hazmat transportation, including lithium batteries, that could lead to compliance risks

Save my seat.

Source: BLR

“ANSI Emergency Eyewash, Shower Standard Revised – Are You In Compliance?”

By Roy Maurer  12/7/2015

The national consensus standard for the selection, installation and maintenance of emergency eye, face and shower equipment was recently updated.

The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) received American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval for ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014, American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment, and the update went into effect January 2015.

There is no grandfather clause, and existing equipment must be compliant with the revised standard.

“This globally accepted standard continues to be the authoritative document that specifies minimum performance criteria for flow rates, temperature and drenching patterns,” said Imants Stiebris, chairman of the ISEA Emergency Eyewash and Shower Group and safety products business leader at Speakman Co.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a general requirement specifying where and when emergency eyewash and shower equipment must be available, but it does not specify operating or installation requirements.

That’s where the ANSI/ISEA standard comes in. While it doesn’t have the full force of an OSHA regulation, the standard helps employers meet OSHA requirements.

“Safety showers and eyewashes are your first line of defense should there be an accident,” said Casey Hayes, director of operations for Haws Integrated, a firm that designs, builds and manages custom-engineered industrial water safety systems. “We’ve seen OSHA stepping up enforcement of the standard in the last couple of years and issuing more citations,” he said.

What Is ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014?

The standard covers plumbed and self-contained emergency showers and emergency eyewash equipment, eye/face wash equipment, combination units, personal wash units and hand-held drench hoses. These systems are typically found in manufacturing facilities, construction sites, laboratories, medical offices and other workplaces.

The standard specifies minimum performance criteria for flow rates, temperature and drenching patterns for a user to adequately rinse off a contaminant in an emergency situation. It also provides maintenance directives to ensure that the equipment is in proper working condition.

One of the most significant requirements of the standard deals with the location of the equipment, Hayes said, and “It’s probably the most difficult part for employers to comply with.” The equipment must be accessible to workers within 10 seconds—a vague requirement, according to Hayes—but the standard’s appendix references 55 feet, he pointed out.

The wash or shower must be located on the same level as the hazard. “You can’t have somebody working on a stairwell and have to go up or down a flight to get to the shower. The equipment needs to be installed on the same level where the accident could happen,” he said.

The wash station must also be free of obstructions. “Someone needing to get to the shower or eyewash could be in a panic—their eyes could be blinded by chemicals—so employers must ensure that the shower is accessible and free of obstructions,” he said.

All equipment must be identified with highly visible signage, must be well-lit, and needs to be able to go from “off” to “on” in one second or less.

“The volume of water that is required for a 15-minute flow is not always considered,” Hayes said. The standard requires the victim to endure a flushing flow for a minimum of 15 minutes. With water pressure from the drench shower 10 times the amount of a typical residential shower, “that is a significant amount of water, and you need to deal with it on the floor and from a capacity standpoint,” he said.

The comfort of the person using the wash also needs to be considered. “It is not a pleasant experience to put your eyes in the path of water. The controlled flow of flushing fluid must be at a velocity low enough to be noninjurious to the user,” Hayes said.

The standard stipulates minimum flow rates of:

  • 0.4 gallons per minute for eyewashes.
  • 3 gallons per minute for eye/face washes. A good eye/face wash will have separate dedicated flows of water for your eyes and face, Hayes said.
  • 20 gallons per minute for showers. That’s 300 gallons of water required for the 15-minute wash.

Washes must deliver tepid water defined as between 60 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Studies have shown that tepid water increases the chances that a victim can tolerate the required 15-minute wash. Tepid water also encourages the removal of contaminated clothing, which acts as a barrier to the flushing fluid.

“We’re also seeing employers putting showers in enclosed areas or in curtained areas, to promote the removal of clothing and alleviate workers’ privacy concerns,” Hayes said.

2014 Revisions to the Standard

There weren’t that many changes to the 2009 standard, but a few highlights include the following:

  • A requirement was included that emergency showers be designed, manufactured and installed in such a way that, once activated, they can be operated without the use of hands.
  • The way the height of eyewashes and eye/face washes are measured changed from the floor to the wash basin to from the floor to the water flow. The height should still be between 33 inches and 53 inches. “Something to consider when inspecting washes is to ensure that, even though your wash fits within these limits, it’s still realistically usable,” Hayes said.
  • A single step up into an enclosure where the wash is accessed is not considered an obstruction. This had not been addressed previously.

The 2014 version further clarifies that fluid flow location and pattern delivery for emergency eyewashes and eye/face washes is the critical aspect in designing and installing these devices, rather than the positioning of nozzles. Additionally, illustrations have been updated to reflect contemporary design configurations.

Best Practices

Hayes recommended a few best practices that go above and beyond the standard and that he has seen used at companies with strong safety cultures:

  • Locate washes and showers in areas with adequate space for emergency responders to fulfill their duties. “If the equipment is in a tight space, you’re preventing responders from helping victims,” he said. Enclosures can be built to allow multiple people to be inside.
  • Monitor and evaluate all accessible components of washes and showers on a frequent and routine basis to manage potential problems.
  • Use eye/face washes in lieu of simply eyewashes. “It’s highly unlikely that a chemical splash will only land on your eye surface. This is common sense, so put in the right equipment,” he said.
  • Check that the washes meet the proper gauge height. The standard’s weekly activation requirement is mainly to ensure that water is available and to clear sediment buildup. “While a quick activation might seem sufficient, it’s not an accurate representation of functionality for the required 15-minute flush,” Hayes said. “If water is there but doesn’t rise up to the proper gauge height, you are compliant, but that equipment may fail you in the event that it’s needed.”

The ISEA’s new Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment Selection, Installation and Use Guide is a document that provides assistance on the proper selection, use and maintenance of equipment. The 22-page guide includes a frequently asked questions section and an annual inspection checklist.

The guide is available for download in PDF format.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

– See more at: http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/safetysecurity/articles/pages/emergency-eyewash-standard-revised.aspx#sthash.LEfV88ib.dpuf

“OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard To Add Two Additional Fit-Testing Protocols”

OSHA Trade ReleaseDOL Logo


U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Office of Communications
Washington, D.C.
www.osha.gov
For Immediate Release

 

October 6, 2016
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA proposes to amend respiratory protection standard to add
two additional fit-testing protocols

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to add two quantitative fit-testing protocols to the agency’s Respiratory Protection Standard. The protocols would apply to employers in the general, shipyard and construction industries.

Appendix A of the standard contains mandatory respirator fit-testing methods that employers must use to ensure their employees’ respirators fit properly and protect the wearer. The standard also allows individuals to submit new fit-test protocols for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators.

The existing standard contains mandatory testing methods to ensure that employees’ respirators fit properly and are protective. The standard also states that additional fit-test protocols may be submitted for OSHA approval. TSI Incorporated submitted an application for new protocols for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators, and filtering facepiece respirators. The proposed protocols are variations of the existing OSHA-accepted PortaCount® protocol, but differ from it by the exercise sets, exercise duration, and sampling sequence.

The agency invites the public to comment on the accuracy and reliability of the proposed protocols, their effectiveness in detecting respirator leakage, and their usefulness in selecting respirators that will protect employees from airborne contaminants in the workplace. More specific issues for public comment are listed in the Federal Register notice.

Individuals may submit comments electronically at www.regulations.gov, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Comments may also be submitted by mail or facsimile; see the Federal Register notice for details. The deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 6, 2016.

This proposed rulemaking would allow employers greater flexibility in choosing fit-testing methods for employees. The proposed rule would not require an employer to update or replace current fit-testing methods, as long as the fit-testing method(s) currently in use meet existing standards. The proposal also would not impose additional costs on any private- or public-sector entity.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department’s Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).

“N95 Day: A NIOSH-Approved Holiday”

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Today is the 5th annual N95 Day, which focuses on respiratory protection awareness and proper use of N95 respirators. Here are some ways you can participate:

  • Social media. Look for N95-related information on Twitter (@NIOSH, @NPPTL, #N95Day) Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as well as the annual N95 Day NIOSH Science Blog. Share NIOSH’s infographics, and be sure to follow ASSE (@ASSE_Safety) and other campaign partners to find free training, resources, and safety tips.
  • Hospital respiratory protection program resources. NIOSH has launched a web page of resources dedicated to hospital respiratory protection programs.
  • Webinars. NIOSH is presenting two webinars this year: 1) The Science Behind Respirator Fit Testing in the Workplace: Past, Present and Future; and 2)  Why Do We Have to Fit Test? And Why Every Year? Although registration is now closed, the agency will post the webinar videos and slides after the event. Check the campaign page for updates.
  • ASSE materials. Check out ASSE’s Tech Brief on ANSI/ASSE Z88.2-2015, Practices for Respiratory Protection and visit our respiratory protection standards page.

Source: ASSE, NIOSH, CDC

“The Importance of Eyewash Station Maintenance and Monitoring”

Many different types of industries are required to install and maintain eyewash stations for their employees’ safety and health. These eyewash stations are an important safety device that can be instrumental for mitigating a number of different types of eye injuries.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that work-related eye injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation. Eyewash stations, whether permanently connected to a source of potable water or having self-contained flushing fluid, can help save workers’ eyesight and reduce costs associated with eye injuries.

However, eyewash stations require proper maintenance or they may present health hazards that can worsen or cause additional damage to a worker’s eye. According to OSHA, water found in improperly maintained eyewash stations is more likely to contain microorganisms that thrive in stagnant or untreated water and are known to cause infections.

“When an incident occurs and a worker uses an eyewash station that is not maintained, organisms that could be in the water can come into contact with the eyes, skin or may even be inhaled,” said Franco Seif, President of Clark Seif Clark. “A partial list of microorganisms that OSHA reports could contaminant an improperly maintained eyewash station include:Acanthamoeba, Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A worker using an eyewash station after exposure to a hazardous chemical or material may have eye injuries that make the eye more susceptible to infection. In addition, workers with skin damage or compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of developing illnesses from contaminated water.”

To help prevent these scenarios from occurring, Clark Seif Clark offers eyewash station monitoring and microbial pathogen testing services. They also provide a wide range of other industrial hygiene and occupational, health and safety services. To help educate people about eyewash stations and potential microbial risks from improper maintenance, Clark Seif Clark recently sponsored an educational video that can be seen above and at: https://youtu.be/Nb9XdcO1cZk

To learn more about microbial testing and monitoring or other occupational, environmental, indoor air quality, health and safety and consulting services, please visit www.csceng.com, email csc@csceng.com or call (800) 807-1118.

About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address environmental, IAQ, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

Source: Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE – Monday, August 8, 2016

“TSCA Reform: A Simple 5-point Summary of What You Need to Know “

After 40 years, the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) has been reformed in an effort to more effectively manage chemicals in this country and give EPA more authority to evaluate and mitigate the associated risks. This infographic summarizes the important points of TSCA reform.

TF-TSCA-reform-info

“Maximum Civil Penalties for Violations of Environmental (USEPA) Statutes Are Now Significantly Higher After Inflation Adjustment”

EPA-Logo130418

In a federal rulemaking published last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued interim final regulations adjusting the maximum civil penalty dollar amounts for violations of various provisions of law. 81 Fed. Reg. 43091 (July 1, 2016).

The recently enacted Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (2015 Act), not only required an adjustment form current penalty maximum levels to account for inflation, but also included a catch-up provision for inflation. That requires each agency to evaluate and provide for an inflation adjustment dating back to the enactment of the relevant statute’s effective date. (Section 5(b)(2)(C) of the 2015 Act provides that the maximum amount of any initial catch-up increase shall not exceed 150 percent of the level that was in effect on November 2, 2015.) See related Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, OMB Memorandum M-16-06 (February 24, 2016). In addition, beginning January 15, 2017, each agency must make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation.

EPA’s interim final rule revises Table 2 to 40 CFR 19.4, showing the results of the Agency’s calculations and adjustments, that include: (1) the maximum or minimum penalty level established when each statutory section was originally enacted or last adjusted by Congress; and (2) the statutory maximum or minimum civil penalty level, adjusted for inflation under the 2015 Act, that applies to statutory civil penalties assessed on or after August 1, 2016 for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015.

Readers familiar with EPA’s penalty structure know that statutory penalties of $25,000 per day per violation were previously adjusted for inflation to $37,500. With the catch up provision under the interim final rule, the maximum penalty will vary by statute. For example, the $25,000 per violation penalty under the Clean Air Act is now $44,539; under the Clean Water Act is now $44,539; under RCRA is now in a range of $56,467 to $70,117, and under CERCLA (including most EPCRA violations) is now $53,907. Other maximum penalties are also adjusted.

The new civil penalty amounts are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after Aug. 1, 2016, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Environmental Compliance, Enforcement & Permitting Team.

Source: Seyfarth, Shaw

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