“Employer In Fatal Boston Trench Collapse Did Not Provide Safety Training & Basic Safeguards For Employees, OSHA Finds”

Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc. cited for 18 violations

BOSTON – Robert Higgins and Kelvin Mattocks died on Oct. 21, 2016, in Boston, when the approximately 12-foot deep trench in which they were working collapsed, breaking an adjacent fire hydrant supply line and filling the trench with water in a matter of seconds.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that their employer, Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc., failed to provide basic safeguards against collapse and did not train its employees – including Higgins and Mattocks – to recognize and avoid cave-in and other hazards.

“The deaths of these two men could have and should have been prevented. Their employer, which previously had been cited by OSHA for the same hazardous conditions, knew what safeguards were needed to protect its employees but chose to ignore that responsibility,” said Galen Blanton, OSHA’s New England regional administrator.

OSHA’s inspection determined that Atlantic Drain and owner Kevin Otto, who oversaw the work on the day of the fatalities, did not:

–       Install a support system to protect employees in an approximately 12-foot deep trench from a cave-in and prevent the adjacent fire hydrant from collapsing.

–       Remove employees from the hazardous conditions in the trench.

–       Train the workers in how to identify and address hazards associated with trenching and excavation work.

–       Provide a ladder at all times so employees could exit the trench.

–       Support structures next to the trench that posed overhead hazards.

–       Provide employees with hardhats and eye protection.

As a result, OSHA has cited Atlantic Drain for a total of 18 willful, repeat, serious and other-than-serious violations of workplace safety standards and is proposing $1,475,813 in penalties for those violations. OSHA cited Atlantic Drain trenching worksites for similar hazards in 2007 and 2012. The full citations can be viewed here.

In February, a Suffolk County grand jury indicted Atlantic Drain and company owner, Kevin Otto, on two counts each of manslaughter and other charges in connection with the deaths. OSHA and the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor worked with the department’s Office of the Inspector General, the Boston Police Department’s Homicide Unit and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office during the course of this investigation.

Atlantic Drain has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to meet with OSHA’s area director, and to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, if it chooses to do so.

The walls of an unprotected trench can collapse suddenly and with great force, trapping and engulfing workers before they have a chance to react or escape. Protection against cave-in hazards may be provided through shoring of the trench walls, sloping the soil, or by using a protective trench box. Employers must ensure that workers enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards. More information about protecting employees in trenches and excavations can be found here and here.

“We want to emphasize to all employers that trenching hazards can have catastrophic consequences if they are not addressed effectively before employees enter a trench,” said Blanton.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the nearest OSHA Area Office.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful working conditions 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 http://www.osha.gov.

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Media Contacts:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov
James C. Lally, 617-565-2074, lally.james.c@dol.gov

Release Number:  17-413-BOS

Here Is WHY Trenching Safety Training IS Required!

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“OSHA National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls In Construction – May 8-12, 2017” #StandDown4Safety

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities recorded in 2015 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Fall Prevention Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.


What is a Safety Stand-Down?

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. It’s an opportunity for employers to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they see.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent falls in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Partners

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down and FAQ’s

Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime during the May 8-12, 2017. SeeSuggestions to Prepare for a Successful “Stand-Down” and Highlights from the Past Stand-Downs. OSHA also hosts an Events page with events that are free and open to the public to help employers and employees find events in your area.

Certificate of Participation

Employers will be able to provide feedback about their Stand-Down and download a Certificate of Participation following the Stand-Down.

Share Your Story With Us

If you want to share information with OSHA on your Safety Stand-Down, Fall Prevention Programs or suggestions on how we can improve future initiatives like this, please send your email to oshastanddown@dol.gov. Also share your Stand-Down story on social media, with the hashtag: #StandDown4Safety.

If you plan to host a free event that is open to the public, see OSHA’s Events page to submit the event details and to contact your Regional Stand-Down Coordinator.

Additional Resources:

OSHA’s Falls Prevention Campaign Page (en español)

Fall Prevention Training Guide – A Lesson Plan for Employers (PDF) (EPUB | MOBI). Spanish (PDF) (EPUB | MOBI).

Fall Prevention Publications Webpage contains fall prevention materials in English and Spanish.

Ladder Safety Guidance

Scaffolding

  • Ladder Jack Scaffolds Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Narrow Frame Scaffolds Fact Sheet (HTML PDF)
  • Tube and Coupler Scaffolds – Erection and Use Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Tube and Coupler Scaffolds – Planning and Design Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Scaffolding Booklet (HTML PDF)
  • OSHA Scaffold eTool
Stand-Down Partner Materials

Outreach Training Materials

Fall Safety Videos

Additional Educational Materials

“Reminder: Are You In Compliance With OSHA’s New Construction Confined Space Standard?”

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Most employers in the construction industry already know that OSHA issued a new confined space standard for construction that became effective on August 3, 2015. Companies with employees who enter confined spaces at construction sites must be sure to understand the new regulation and adjust their processes in order to remain in compliance. Although the new standard has been in effect for six months, this blog provides a reminder on some of the key provisions of which employers should be aware.

As background, OSHA used to just have a confined space standard for general industry employers (29 CFR 1910.146). However, in recognition that construction sites often host multiple employers and are continually changing, with the number and nature of confined spaces changing as work progresses, OSHA promulgated a new standard, available at 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200, tailored to the unique characteristics of construction sites.

While the general industry standard and the construction standard have many similarities, some key differences are:

The construction standard requires coordination when there are multiple employers at the worksite. Specifically, the construction standard imposes duties on three types of employers because of the recognition that different workers may perform different activities in the same space, which can result in hidden dangers:

Entry employers. This is defined as an employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit space. Entry employers have a duty to inform controlling contractors (defined below) of any hazards encountered in a permit space. Entry employers also have to develop safe entry procedures.

Host employers. This is defined as the employer who owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place. If the host employer has information about permit space hazards, it must share that information with the controlling contractor (defined below) and then the controlling contractor is responsible for sharing that information with the entry employers.

Controlling contractor. This is defined as the employer with overall responsibility for construction at the worksite. The controlling contractor is responsible for coordinating entry operations when there is more than one entry employer. Controlling contractors must provide any information they have about any permit space hazards to all entry employers.

The controlling contractor is also responsible for coordinating work in and around confined spaces so that no contractor working at the site will create a hazard inside the confined space. After the entry employer performs entry operations, the controlling contractor must debrief the entry employer to gather information that the controlling contractor then must share with the host employer and other contractors who enter the space later.

Continuous atmospheric monitoring is required under the construction standard “whenever possible.” In contrast, the general industry standard merely encourages continuous atmospheric monitoring where possible and only requires periodic monitoring as necessary.

The construction standard requires that a “competent person” evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces including permit-required confined spaces.

Notably, the general industry standard does not require that a “competent person” complete this task. A “competent person” is defined under the new standard as someone who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards associated with working conditions, including, of course, whether a workspace is permit-required.

Employers who perform construction-related activities need to make sure they understand the requirements of the new confined space construction standard. For more information, download : Confined Space in Construction: OSHA 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200 here: https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/1926_subpart_aa.pdf or consult with your Seyfarth attorney.

Source: Seyfarth, Shaw : Evironmental Safety Update / Law Blog

http://www.environmentalsafetyupdate.com/osha-compliance/are-you-in-compliance-with-oshas-new-confined-space-standard-for-the-construction-industry/

 

 

“National Trench Safety Releases Mobile App for the Excavation Industry”

National Trench Safety announced its new NTS Mobile App for the Excavation Construction Industry.

National Trench Safety, LLC (NTS), a Houston-based company specializing in the rental and sales of trench and traffic safety equipment, trench and traffic safety engineering, and OSHA-compliant training classes, officially announced the release of the NTS Mobile App designed specifically for anyone working with Trench and Traffic Safety equipment.

“We’re really pleased to be announcing the rollout of the new NTS Mobile App,” commented Ron Chilton, President of NTS. “We believe we have created a tool with a lot of unique functionality built into this app that will make it a must have item for contractors and their crews. This app is a total handheld resource that contractors should find highly valuable. Our app is not an advertising tool, but rather this app puts all of the specific tools a contractor needs and is required to have on any job site in the palm of his or her hand. One of the features we’re most excited about is the app’s ability to allow a contractor’s Competent Person to complete an electronic excavation daily checklist, to log that checklist for future reference and the ability to print, text and or email those logs.” The NTS Mobile app will also provide real-time access to and the ability to print, text and or email manufacturer’s tabulated data, product depth ratings and weights, OSHA sloping and benching tables, and all relevant OSHA excavation, confined space, and fall protection standards.

“As technology has permeated our industry and culture, it’s made some really unique things possible that weren’t feasible as little as a decade ago,” remarked Chilton. “The NTS Mobile app is the first of a series of technology related services we’ll be introducing over the next year. We also remained committed to bringing new products to the market and have a couple planned product launches for later in the year.”

The NTS Mobile App is currently available on the AppleTM Store for both the iPad and iPhone and will be available for download for Android phones on the GoogleTM Play Store in late February. The app is offered free of charge to users. NTS has several updates planned for the app over the next few months to further enhance the functionality of the app and will be actively seeking feedback from the app’s user community to enhance its value to the construction industry. To learn more about the NTS Mobile App, its features and how to download it please visit us at http://www.ntsafety.com/ntsmobileapp.

National Trench Safety currently has 30 branch locations within the United States. This large national foot print allows NTS to provide its national, regional and local market customers a fully integrated, national branch network delivering unique engineered solutions, the highest level of customer service and the most cost-effective shoring solutions in the industry.

In maintaining its objective of building a nationwide network of trench and traffic safety branches, NTS plans to open several additional branch locations in 2017. For more information about NTS, visit the National Trench Safety website at http://www.ntsafety.com.

“OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Final Rule Requirement Implementation Dates “

On November 18, 2016, OSHA finally published a final rule updating the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards for general industry. Percolating since 1990 (55 FR 13360), reopened in 2003 (68 FR 23528) and again in 2010 (75 FR 28862), revisions to the walking-working surfaces and fall protection standards were long overdue. OSHA’s 500+ final rule gives employers new options to combat slip, trip and fall hazards (Subpart D) while adding employer requirements to ensure those new options provide for enhanced safety.

It adds a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standard (Subpart I) that specifies employer requirements for using personal fall protection systems and clarifies obligations for several specific industries, including telecommunications, pulp, paper and paperboard mills, electrical power generation, transmission and distribution, textiles and sawmills.

The final rule addresses fall protection options (including personal fall protection systems), codifies guidance on rope descent systems, revises requirements for fixed and portable ladders, prohibits the use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system, and establishes training requirements on fall hazards and fall protection equipment. OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels stated, “The final rule will increase workplace protection from those hazards, especially fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries.” OSHA notes the final rule also increases consistency between general and construction industries, which it believes will help employers and workers that work in both industries.

The rule is effective January 17, 2017, but some of the requirements are phased in over time. Phased-in or delayed compliance dates include:

• May 17, 2017

  • Training exposed workers on fall and equipment hazards

• November 20, 2017

  • Inspecting and certifying permanent anchorages

• November 19, 2018

  • Installing personal fall arrest or ladder safety systems on new fixed ladders over 24 feet and on replacement ladders/ladder sections, including fixed ladders on outdoor advertising structure
  • Equipping existing fixed ladders over 24 feet, including those on outdoor advertising structures, with a cage, ell, personal fall arrest system, or ladder safety system

• November 18, 2036

  • Replacing cages and wells (used as fall protection) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems on all fixed ladders over 24 feet

OSHA estimates the rule will affect 112 million workers at nearly 7 million worksites and will prevent 29 fatalities and over 5800 injuries annually.

Many employers that have been operating under the cover of OSHA interpretive letters and statements in the preambles of the proposed rules because the standards in place were so outdated and/or ill-suited to particular work environments. For them, the final rule offers an opportunity to confirm that their policies are compliant. However, those employers should scrutinize the final rule to ensure the interpretations they were relying on were incorporated and that no additional actions are required.

Some have suggested that Congress may seek to overrule these changes using the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) (5 U.S.C. §§801-808), but that action is risky because the CRA is such a blunt instrument. The CRA can only be used to repeal a regulatory act in its entirety; it cannot be used to amend the regulation. Moreover, repudiation by Congress of a final rule prohibits the agency from issuing a substantially similar rule in the future.

Congress has only used the CRA once—to overrule the ergonomics regulation OSHA adopted at the end of the Clinton Administration. Congress should recognize that the provisions of this final rule are too important to too many employers for it to act reflexively by disapproving the entire rule and prohibiting further action on these issues.

A copy of the final rule is found here. More on the final rule, including OSHA’s Fact Sheet, can be found on OSHA’s website here.

“Behavior-Based Safety: Myth or Magic?”

Behavior-Based Safety: Myth or Magic?

Behavior-based safety is a broad term used to describe everything from basic employee behavior audits and feedback to a comprehensive safety management system designed to change a company’s safety culture.

When it was introduced, behavior-based safety (BBS) was seen as a magic panacea for everything that ailed safety programs. “It was the Swiss Army Knife of safety programs. It could take care of everything,” says Ron Bowles, director of operations for Portland, Ore.-based Strategic Safety Associates. “Now people realize that it is just one tool and more are needed.”

Decades after the initial launch of BBS programs, the process has lost favor with many safety managers, who claim the cost – such programs can be expensive – and the long-term results are not what they expected.

Some experts argue that expectations for BBS were unrealistic from the start, while others believe the process has been corrupted at some companies, transformed into an auditing program that assumes a “blame the employee” attitude about safety failures. “Behavior-based safety makes the assumption you know what behaviors you should be doing,” says Robert Pater, managing director of Strategic Safety Associates. “It assumes you know what to do and need to be reminded to do it.”

Not surprisingly, that approach failed at many companies, says Larry Hansen, CSP, ARM, author and principal of L2H Speaking of Safety Inc.

“My intro to behavior-based safety was being asked by my employer at the time to go to an Indiana food distribution company to analyze the safety program,” remembers Hansen. “At 9 a.m., I walked in the door and the general manager said, ‘Stop right there. I just bought a gun, and the next SOB who mentions behavioral safety…’”

Hansen said the company had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a behavior-based safety program and it had failed miserably. “It never had a chance,” he says. “There was a poor manager and a sick organization. They bought into it because they thought it said what they wanted to hear about the cause of incidents, what I call PDDT: people doing dumb things. In other words, employees are the problem and a BBS program can ‘fix’ them. It’s a core misconception that leads to failure.”

The Myth

Jim Spigener, vice president of BST Inc., a global safety consulting and solutions firm that was one of the pioneers in the concept of BBS, says BBS caught fire because “for years and years and years, there wasn’t much new in safety. Then someone seized on the fact that management might want to pay attention to employees. But very few companies were ready to embrace the whole movement.”

Even without a total commitment to changing the safety culture with BBS as a part of that process, BBS caught on “because it was getting results and it seemed to make sense,” says Spigener.

BBS was meant to be part of a bigger safety system, he adds, mentioning what he calls the “fatal error” of assuming that BBS in some form or another works as the only approach necessary to improve safety and reduce incidents.

“BBS, the way people talk about it now, is really a myth,” says Spigener. “A lot of companies jumped on the bandwagon, grabbed a BBS program off the shelf and now are disappointed with the results. And unions have a very good case for going after traditional BBS programs [that ‘blame’ the worker]. Traditional BBS programs don’t examine what drives employees to be in a hazardous situation.”

Hansen offers a perfect example to illustrate Spigener’s point. Hansen says he visited a facility that incurred repetitive losses from injuries employees suffered running up the lunchroom stairwell. Finally, an employee fell and broke his leg, at which point management adopted a BBS program, installing monitors in the hallway leading to the stairwell to remind employees to walk up the steps and to reiterate the company policy, which called for no running. Despite the focus on employee behavior, employees continued running up the stairs until a second major incident occurred, leaving an employee paralyzed. Finally, someone got smart and began to examine systemic causes for employee behavior that ran contrary to company policy and, even, common sense.

“They weren’t asking the most basic question of employees: ‘Why are you running up the stairs?’” says Hansen. “The answer was, ‘There aren’t enough chairs in the lunchroom.’” Employees knew, says Hansen, that if they were late entering the lunchroom, they had to stand to eat their lunches.

“Behavior-based safety done right can be very effective at helping you discover what’s wrong with an organization, find the core organizational causes of risk,” Hansen adds. “Done wrong, it can be used to mask organizational and management failures.”

It’s the Culture, Stupid

E. Scott Geller, Ph.D., talks of attending a session at a safety conference where the presenter asked audience members if they had been injured in a workplace incident and then asked, “How many [incidents] were caused by another person? An equipment failure? Your behavior?”

“When the majority raised their hands when he asked if their behavior caused the incident, he said, ‘I rest my case,’” Geller, alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech and director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology, remembers. “But he didn’t go to the next step and ask the next question: ‘What influences behavior?’ It all happens as part of the culture.”

BBS has its virtues, says Donald Eckenfelder, CSP, P.E., the principal consultant with Profit Protection Consultants and a past president of the American Society of Safety Engineers, but it also has its faults, one of which is the lack of focus on the overall safety culture and environment at a facility. To its credit, Eckenfelder says BBS:

  • Focuses on the human side of safety;
  • Defines safe and unsafe behaviors;
  • Encourages safe behavior and discourages unsafe or destructive behaviors;
  • Involves employees in safety;
  • Requires management to put its money where its mouth is; and
  • Engenders commitment and passion, especially in the early phases.

“There are clearly good things about behavior-based safety,” says Eckenfelder. “But there is more negative than positive” in many of the BBS programs companies have adopted, he adds.

For example, many BBS programs, as packaged by the provider or used by the customer, don’t deal with the causes of safety failures; they deal with the symptoms. “Behaviors of employees are a long way from the root cause,” says Eckenfelder.

If corporate management supports and encourages safe behavior by eliminating root causes – such as engineering, process, communication or training failures – then employees are more likely to want to adopt safe behaviors. Employers, managers and supervisors who actively and vocally support safe production and put money and resources behind that support are less likely to get pushback from employees regarding safe behavior.

“Safety isn’t primarily a technical problem or a behavioral problem,” Eckenfelder points out. “It’s a cultural problem. If the culture’s wrong, nothing else works.”

He notes that when we walk into clothing stores or restaurants, we know if the culture is good or bad. “Can’t you feel the culture?” Eckenfelder asks. “If they’ve got the culture ‘right,’ you say to yourself, ‘Wow! I’d really like to come back here.’”
And the quickest way to ensure safety culture failure, experts agree, is to try to “force” safe behavior on employees.

Experts equate such pressure to a parent telling a teenager how to behave … and say it gets about the same response. As Robert Pater, managing director of Strategic Safety Associates, says, “You can’t mandate people to monitor themselves. You can invite them to do it. Forcing change creates pushback.”

If you really want behavioral change, says Pater, “employees have to see the value of change. They have to believe they can change. They have to know how to change. They have to practice, because behavioral change doesn’t happen from one exposure. And the new actions have to be reinforced through acknowledgment, celebration and external monitoring.”

The key to true, positive behavior change, adds Bowles, “is to create an environment where, rather than have safety as something that is being done to me or for me, it’s something that’s being done with me or by me. Once I begin to own it, I can have incredible success.”

“Real change happens inside out,” Eckenfelder adds. “People get better because they change their attitudes, not because there is pressure placed on them from the outside.

Read the remainder of the story here: http://ehstoday.com/safety/ehs_imp_75429

Source EHS Today®

 

“Workplace Safety Infographic: The Younger Face of Workplace Safety”

Source: Atlantic Training – Note PDF of this info-graphic is available on this page.

“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

“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

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