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2012-2016 Strategic Plan from the Chemical Safety Board

Posted by Shivi Kakar

May 8, 2012 12:52:36 AM

CSB 5-Year Strategic Plan open for comment - U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) requested comments on its draft strategic plan for 2012-2016. It includes the board’s strategic goals, objectives and associated measures for managing and evaluating agency operations.

The draft plan lists 5 goals in its table of contents:

Goal 1: Select and complete accident investigations and recommend actions with a high potential for protecting workers, the public and the environment.

Goal 2: Select and complete safety studies and recommend actions with a high potential for protecting workers, the public and the environment.

Goal 3: Reduce the likelihood of similar accidents in the future by securing implementation of CSB safety recommendations.

Goal 4:  Promote improved safety practices by broadly disseminating the findings, lessons and recommendations from CSB investigations and studies.

Goal 5: Establish the CSB as a recognized world leader in accident investigation and prevention by continuing to improve our human capital and infrastructure.

Read more here

In a letter to the Office of Management & Budget, CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso showed strong support for OSHA's Proposal to include an "Unclassified Hazards" category in the current proposal to adopt the UN's Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classification and labeling of chemicals. He wrote, “…the inclusion of an “unclassified hazards” category would substantially improve the ability of the GHS system to provide crucial information to workers and employers about serious hazards that might otherwise not be included in safety data sheets because they do not fit into the current classification categories of the GHS”

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CSB Applauds AIChE’s (The American Institute of Chemical Engineers) Response to Including Reactive Hazard Awareness in College Chemical Engineering Curriculum

On  April 2, 2012  at the 2012 AIChE Spring Meeting & 8 th Global Congress on Process Safety” in Houston, TX, Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso formally commended AIChE for exceeding the CSB's recommended action resulting from the board’s 2009 investigation report into the fatal reactive chemical accident at T2 Laboratories in Jacksonville, Florida.  As a result of the investigative findings the CSB had called on AIChE to work with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to include reactive hazard awareness in college chemical engineering curriculum.   Read more here

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into 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 does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.
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Topics: General Industry H&S, General EHS, unclassified hazards, CSB, CSB Safety, Chemical Safety Board, GHS

Death Determines the Cost of Safety

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 25, 2010 1:10:29 AM

Carrie Bettinger - CSP, CHMM

It’s a windy, rainy day in northern New Jersey today and, as I drive through my town, I see the sanitation trucks are out to collect garbage and paper recyclables as early as they can before everything is soaked.  My town roads are basically paved horse trails so imagine narrow, winding roads with lots of sharp curves with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH.  So why is one of the garbage trucks going about 35MPH on one of these roads with a soaking wet worker standing on the truck’s rear platform clinging with a death grip to the side?  Is it that important to get the garbage in as fast as possible?  Why is the worker not in the truck if they are not making stops?  Does one of these workers have to die before this sanitation company takes steps to stop these stupid and unsafe acts?

As an experienced Safety Professional, I’m trained to recognize compliance-driven and non-compliance "best practice" occupational safety violations.  However, what does it take to change laws and habits that affect workers and citizens?  In our society and legal system it seems that, yes, someone (or many) has to tragically die before change and regulation are considered.

Let’s review some of our history:

1911:  The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York resulted in 146 worker deaths due to locked escape routes leading to local then nationwide Life Safety Laws.

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Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, Chemical Safety Board, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Safety, Occupational Training, Lab Safety, Safety Training in Spanish, water safety

Why We Need More than Common Sense Safety for Natural Gas Pipe System Cleaning and Purging Operations

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 20, 2010 2:22:39 AM

By Don Hoeschele, MS, CHMM

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recently approved recommendations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other organizations to help prevent explosions and fires during pipe cleaning and purging operations.  As recently as February 7, 2010 at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown, CT, an explosion caused six fatalities and numerous injuries during the cleaning of a natural gas pipe system. Another similar explosion occurred at the ConAgra Foods Slim Jim plant in Garner, NC on June 9, 2009 and caused the death of four workers. In both instances, an operation termed “natural gas blow” was utilized to force natural gas under pressure through a piping system during construction and prior to startup of the plant’s turbines to rid the pipe system of non-natural gas impurities and debris. The gas was vented to the ambient atmosphere at open pipe ends less than 20 feet from the ground, and in worker areas where the gas easily found a source of ignition.  It seems that common sense would lead one to never vent natural gas near sources of ignition.

  • At Kleen Energy the potential ignition sources included electrical power to the building, welders actively working and diesel-fueled heaters running in the vicinity.

  • Approximately TWO MILLION cubic feet of natural gas were released at Kleen Energy on February 7, 2010 during the “natural gas blow”, enough natural gas, according to the CSB, to provide heating and cooking fuel to the average American home every day for more than 25 years.

The CSB determined that no specific federal workplace safety standard exists that would prohibit the intentional release of natural gas into the workplace. Yes, I was shocked when I read that, too! Eighteen urgent recommendations were provided and voted on by the CSB to prevent future disasters. Some of the recommendations include – Prohibiting the use of natural gas for pipe cleaning and using alternatives such as compressed air, steam and other chemical substitutes, and upgrading the current gas safety standards for general industry and construction that are considered by the CSB to contain “significant gaps” that threaten the safety of workers at such facilities.

In February 2010, the CSB issued a safety bulletin titled “ Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths During Hot Work In and Around Tanks”.  This bulletin highlights another gap in the OSHA standards, “While the OSHA standard prohibits hot work in an explosive atmosphere, it does not explicitly require the use of a combustible gas detector”. 

It is an unfortunate fact that such regulatory “gaps” can be found in many industries. We are reminded of these gaps while reading of disasters such as these, or more currently, watching the daily updates of oil washing ashore in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is certainly welcome news that these CSB draft recommendations were quickly approved without amendments to help prevent future explosions during pipe cleaning operations.

Do you know of other examples of what would seem to be ‘common sense’ safety measures that are not utilized because “this is the way we have always done it” wins over common sense?
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Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Emergency Response, Chemical Safety Board, Hazardous Materials, Compliance, worker safety, emergency response training, Fire Safety, NFPA

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