2016 will go down as the year OSHA and EPA tried to revamp their PSM and RMP rules for handling Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHC) and Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS). We have even seen Congress get into the act of blocking OSHA from enforcing PSM on fertilizer distributors. All the while, our friends to the north have been busy implementing their "Fertilizer Canada Anhydrous Ammonia Code of Practice" which go into effect January 2017. Fertilizer Canada is an industry association representing Canadian manufacturers, wholesalers and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizer used in the production of agricultural crops. And this group of companies has developed a "certification" in which ONLY facilities certified as compliant with Fertilizer Canada’s Ammonia Code of Practice (Code) are eligible to receive shipments of anhydrous ammonia. If situations exist where "uncertified facilities" are receiving product or facilities are not in compliance with the Code, a third party complaint process exists to report, investigate and take remedial action. Compliance with the Code may also be randomly verified by Fertilizer Canada through the Quality Assurance/Quality Control program where an auditor may be sent to a certified site to verify compliance at any point during the certification period. The frequency for auditing is every two years (730 days). But it is some of the "facility siting" elements that caught my eye during a visit...
Did the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just declare e-cigs an "ignition source"?
No, not directly, but they did issue this Safety Advisory: Possession or Use of Battery-Powered Portable Electronic Smoking Devices Around, On or While Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) relating to the possession and use of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices (e.g., e-cigarettes, e-cigs, e-cigars, e-pipes, e-hookahs, personal vaporizers, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). In this Safety Advisory, the FMCSA states:
This past week I worked with a client who's safety contact is the HR manager and we had several discussions about OSHA's revised recordkeeping requirements and all the recent reporting changes. One thing I noticed is that ALL MANUFACTURING facilities are considered "high risk" and are on the list of NAICS's number that must report. So the "list" of high-risk industries is not very specific! But one thing that is stirring a lot of discussion is OSHA's official position on "post-accident" drug testing. OSHA stated in the preamble...
For years, NFPA 70, the "National Electric Code" has exempted Engine Rooms/Mechanical Rooms for refrigeration processes using Anhydrous Ammonia from having to be Electrically Classified Hazardous Locations (HAZLOC) as long as the room had "adequate ventilation". The exemption in NFPA 70 has always been sort of vague and referenced the ventilation requirements in ANSI/ASHRAE 15-1994, Safety Code for Mechanical Refrigeration. But that is ALL CHANGING in 2017 as NFPA 70 2017 is now specifying their own Alarm Set Point if a business wants to use the exception. NFPA 70, 2017 will state:
Recently at a Compliance Assistance conference, OH-EPA presented on EPA’s Risk Management Plan and revealed some interesting data. One thing to state up front is that Ohio EPA is one of thirteen (13) states that has been delegated to enforce 40 CFR Part 68 within the state of Ohio. With that comes a snap shot of what they are finding throughout the state. Here are some of the more interesting bits of data…
As part of the agency's national emphasis program for chemical facilities, OSHA inspected the company on Feb. 6, 2016, and found multiple violations of federal process safety management regulations, including not developing set written procedures for maintaining process equipment, which resulted in repeat violations. In addition, OSHA issued citations for serious violations for the following:
EPA announces NEW National Enforcement Initiative: Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities (Fiscal Years 2017-19)
EPA has announced it will increase efforts to prevent catastrophic accidents and explosions that threaten employees and emergency responders and release chemicals that threaten human health and the environment in neighboring communities. EPA selects National Enforcement Initiatives (NEIs) every three years to focus resources on national environmental problems where there is significant non-compliance with laws, and where federal enforcement efforts can make a difference. National Enforcement Initiatives are in addition to EPA’s core enforcement work, including protecting safe drinking water, reducing air pollution, and protecting safe and healthy land. The initiatives are chosen with input from the public and from stakeholders across EPA’s state, local and tribal agency partners. Starting October 1, 2016 and continuing for three (3) fiscal years, EPA will retain four (4) of its current National Enforcement Initiatives, add two (2) new initiatives, and expand one (1) to include a new area of focus.
Holy cow batman, have we really come to this in the safety profession?!?!?! An apprentice is crushed to death while standing inside (or technically under) a "machine" looking at some fans he was going to be working on, while the facility technician was performing the LOTO on "the machine". To get this "machine" to the zero energy state, the technician had to release counter weights (e.g. release stored energy) which in turn killed the apprentice who happen to be standing under one of the counter weights when the energy was released. The ALJ found that since the contractor was intending to work on "the fans" inside/under "the machine" and since the apprentice was not killed by the fans he was inspecting at the time, that LOTO did not apply to the contractor being inside/under "the machine" and vacated the citation. The decision made it to the full commission review and the commission was split in their position so it defaulted back to the ALJ's decision and the citation was vacated. How anyone could come to the conclusion that 1910.147 did not apply here is just amazing! Here is the case info - LESSON to be learned... Legal does equate to something being SAFE! I have posted BOTH decisions from the two commissioners, which one do you think was right?
The state of IL has passed some Anhydrous Ammonia (NH3) regulations that will require retail Ag fertilizer businesses to:
In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The Department of Labor is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA's maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, will increase by 78%. Going forward, the agency will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index. The new penalties will take effect after August 1, 2016. Any citations issued by OSHA after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015.
Adjustments to Penalties
To provide guidance to field staff on the implementation of the new penalties, OSHA will issue revisions to its Field Operations Manual by August 1. To address the impact of these penalty increases on smaller businesses, OSHA will continue to provide penalty reductions based on the size of the employer and other factors.
Respondent owns and operates a chemical plant to produce many grades of high density polyethylene (HDPE). On August 2, 2015, Respondent identified a release of hexane into the adjacent facility to Respondent cooling water system and released to atmosphere. The cause was due to two of 658 "U" tubes from the LHC Tails Cooler failed due to fretting (wearing away) at the baffle hole contact point. Respondent estimated that 154,000 pounds of hexane was released to the cooling water system and released to the atmosphere over an 11 day period, from July 22 to August 2 when the leak was identified and the cooler was isolated. The time of the leak was determined by an investigation after the leak was isolated. The fretting was caused by water flow induced vibration which compromised the support of the tubes at the baffle holes due to corrosion of the carbon steel baffles.