OSHA has cited an Alabama automobile dealership for serious safety violations after three employees died and two were injured at its Jasper facility. OSHA initiated an investigation in response to a flash fire. Inspectors determined that the employees were using a flammable brake wash to scrub the service pit floor when the fire occurred. As a result, three employees were fatally injured, and a fourth was critically burned. A fifth employee was treated for smoke inhalation and released. OSHA issued one willful and two serious safety citations for failing to implement all elements of a chemical hazard communication program, improper storage of flammable liquids, and allowing unapproved electrical receptacles and equipment to be used in a hazardous area. Proposed penalties total $152,099.  Here are the citations:

I have written about this hazard numerous times as it is the leading cause of flash fires within process vessels, but during a recent Combustible Dust project, I noticed that the 2017 edition of NFPA 654 has some new and specific requirements for this activity.  I had always used NFPA 77 as my RAGAGEP for this activity, but now NFPA - 654  Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids is a bit more specific in that it mentions the worker doing the addition(s) be donned in Flame Retardant Clothing meeting NFPA 2113...

9.3.7* Manual additions of solids through an open port or a manway into a vessel containing ¬Čammable atmospheres shall be permitted to be done in 50 lb (25 kg) batches or smaller, provided the requirements of 9.3.7.1 through 9.3.7.7 are satisfied:

(emphasis by me)

As can be seen in the video below there is a drum that is clearly labeled FLAMMABLE with its red placard suspended over a plastic IBC (i.e. tote).  The Orange County Fire Investigation Unit has determined that "static electricity caused a flammable liquid to ignite" inside the cosmetic manufacturing facility on November 20, 2017. The cause was ruled an accident.  The explosion is said to have taken place during the manufacturing process when a "worker was wiping excess product in the batch room".   I would bet that the wiping was NOT the generator of the static (although it would generate it over time - the flash occurred as soon as the worker touched the tote); rather what appears to be "splash filling" seen in the video is a better candidate to generate the static in the plastic tote.  The worker was merely the path to ground for the static.  This means the charge jumped from the plastic tote to the worker and this occurred right at the vent on the tote where the flammable vapors were discharging during the transfer from the suspended drum.  The MIE of hexamethyldisiloxane is less than 1 mJ so it does not take much static - in fact, we would not even feel or see a static discharge of 1 mJ.  Hexamethyldisiloxane is Category 2 Flammable liquid which carries the following GHS Precautionary statements for good reason:

A 43-year-old male employee was fatally injured in an explosion. On the day of the accident, the victim, a trailer mechanic, was working alone repairing a trailer in the maintenance shop of a freight distribution facility. There were no witnesses to the incident, and the building was deemed structurally unsound following the explosion. Through a detailed investigation, and incorporating findings from the Fire Marshall’s Report, it was determined that a 55-gallon drum of Diesel Anti-Gel, a Category 2 Flammable liquid (flashpoint below 100°F or 3.78°C), was most likely involved in the explosion.  The Fire Marshalls Report determined that there were vapors from the Diesel Anti-Gel present on the floor in front of the drum and in the drum itself. The valve handle on the drum may have become unknowingly opened as employees moved through the often traveled area. Possible ignition sources in the area included static and an electrical arc resulting from the use of a nearby dropped electrical cord. Citations issued included, excessive quantities of flammable liquids being stored, containers of flammable liquids not covered, a flammable liquid container without a self-closing valve, and lack of grounding or bonding on containers of flammable liquids.

Citation(s) as Originally Issued...

This year the OH Fire code is undergoing revisions to bring it up to the 2015 IFC requirements.  In this process, there is a comment period in which anyone with interest can make comments on the proposed revisions or ask questions.  One such question was asked about the revisions to

5704.2.7.3.2. Vent Line Flame Arresters and Pressure-Vacuum Vents

Is the intention to require flame arrestors or pressure-vacuum vents ONLY for Class 1B and Class 1C liquids? (emphasis added by me)

A December 2015 video at Russian oil and gas field in Siberia recently came to light and although it is tough to watch two workers perish, it is a video that needs to be shared to show the hazards of Hot Work on flammable liquid containers.  The video shows two workers using a torch to thaw a valve at the back of the tanker truck.  I have broken down the video into three frames showing the progression of the explosion.  Here is frame #1 showing the first signs of ignition - pay close attention to the back dome cloest to the two (2) workers at the rear of the trailer and you will see the first signs of flames around the lid:

Screen Shot 2017 05 31 at 4.58.21 PM

 
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