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The state of Washington's OSHA has published their DRAFT standard on Confined Spaces. The standard pretty closely mirrors federal OSHA's 1926.1201-.1213; however, the OSHA standards in WA must be written in a much more simplified manner, thus we end up with a standard that is easier to read and WA-OSHA does an EXCELLENT job explaining the requirements with their "Summary" in each section and the special NOTES they post through out the standard. They have also made some things more clear... for example, in their definition of a confined space they use the phrase "Not primarily designed for human occupancy" vs. "Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy" as found in Federal OSHA's definition. For those in facilities that really want a well explained standard, this is a MUST READ. CLICK HERE
Friday morning (9/23/16) the United States Court of Appeals, For the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT announced that OSHA could not redefine "retail" using a Letter of Interpretation (LOI) or Memorandum, OSHA would have to go through the Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM) in order to redefine the term. Ironically, it was a 1995 LOI that actually defined "retail" and yet no lawsuit was brought forth on that LOI and it stood for 20+ years. The court even acknowledges that the "retail" exemption was to be applied to "small containers" and true retail businesses; but in the end, the court sided with the complainants (AGRICULTURAL RETAILERS ASSOCIATION and the FERTILIZER INSTITUTE) and said the Memorandum was essentially a standard. Here is the cleaned up version of the decision, the actual decision can be downloaded...
This is an interesting outcome, of which I have no knowledge as to how this deal was struck. But there was no monetary penalty and the facility has 60 days to make some seriously big changes/improvements. The biggest thing I noticed is that EPA is requiring the facility to make changes to comply with the latest version of CGA 2.1 - 2014 rather than the RAGAGEP the process was most likely built to: ANSI K61. Here are the facts as we know them...
What's changed in ALOHA 5.4.7?
What's changed in CAMEO Chemicals 2.7?
In November 2015, an operator at an explosives manufacturing plant was tasked with transferring aluminium grit atomised powder (aluminium powder) from a flexible intermediate bulk container (IBC) outside the plant to the hopper inside the plant. Using a pneumatically-driven vacuum suction pump and transfer pipe work (which incorporated five metres of PVC piping) the operator successfully transferred part of the powder from the IBC. When the hopper began to empty the operator resumed transferring product. Just after repositioning the suction pipe inside the IBC, he heard a loud explosion that sounded like a cartridge of explosives detonating, and felt the pipe shake violently in his hand. The operator ran inside the plant to find that the vacuum pump and chamber were on fire and had been blown off the hopper. There were spot fires of burning product. The operator used an extinguisher to put out the fires. There were no injuries. There was charring on the inside of both the vacuum chamber and transfer pipe work but not inside the hopper. It appears a dust explosion was triggered by a static discharge inside the vacuum chamber creating a flash-back through the transfer piping.
OSHA issues grain bin entry and LOTO Citations @ farmer-owned cooperative ($411K, Egregious Willful)
An elevator superintendent, 41, suffocated when his lifeline tangled in an unguarded and rotating auger. OSHA investigators determined three workers, including the elevator superintendent, had been standing over the unguarded auger using a pole in an attempt to dislodge soybean debris in a grain bin that contained more than 50,000 bushels of soybeans sloped 12 to 20 feet up its walls. A federal investigation into the worker's death found multiple violations of federal safety standards for grain handling at the facility. On Sept. 9, 2016, OSHA issued three (3) egregious willful and three (3) serious violations following its investigation of the March 16, 2016, death. From 2011 to 2015, federal inspectors cited the Nebraska farmer-owned cooperative and joint venture six times for violating grain-handling safety standards. The agency has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA has proposed penalties of $411,540. View current citations below...
In the last 10 years, RMP data show that there have been more than 1,500 reportable accidents, about 500 of which had off-site impacts. These accidents are responsible for nearly 60 deaths, some 17,000 people were injured or who sought medical treatment, almost 500,000 people evacuated or sheltered-in-place and more than $2 billion in property damages. Source