October 25, 2002

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will conduct a full investigation of the October 13th distillation tower explosion at First Chemical Corp. near Pascagoula, Mississippi, where CSB investigators are continuing to conduct interviews and collect other data.

The explosion hurled a six-ton section of the nitrotoluene distillation tower about 1000 feet into a neighboring plant, where it came to rest near a crude oil storage tank.

"The accident occurred near several chemical facilities that store and handle hazardous and flammable materials. Luck alone prevented debris from this explosion from causing a major chemical release," said CSB lead investigator Steve Selk.

Announcing the investigation, CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt stated: "Congress created the Board to examine just these kind of events - where there is a significant threat of public harm. Preliminary indications point to an uncontrolled chemical reaction within the distillation tower, which was idle at the time."

The CSB recently released a study of 167 serious incidents involving uncontrolled chemical reactions in the U.S. between 1980 and 2001 and called on OSHA and EPA to tighten regulatory standards covering reactive hazards.

Three out of the 23 workers on site at the time of the Sunday explosion received minor injuries, and nearby residents were temporarily sheltered in place. A fire ignited in a nitrotoluene storage tank at the plant was extinguished by company personnel. First Chemical Corp., a subsidiary of ChemFirst Inc., is a producer of aniline and nitrotoluene derivatives and intermediates.

The CSB is an independent federal agency established in 1998 with the mission of protecting workers, the public, and the environment by investigating and ultimately preventing chemical accidents. The CSB determines the root causes of these accidents and makes safety recommendations to government agencies, companies, and other organizations. The CSB does not issue fines or citations or apportion responsibility for accidents. For more information visit http://www.chemsafety.gov.


With a working relationship formed more than a decade ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Meat Institute (AMI) joined in a formal Alliance to further promote safe and healthful working conditions for meat industry workers.

The Alliance sets specific goals and priorities -- key among those is providing AMI members and others in the meat industry with information to help protect workers' health and safety, focusing on reducing and preventing exposure to ergonomic hazards. The Alliance also calls for both organizations to provide training on ergonomics techniques, program structure, and applications in the meat industry.

Outreach and communication is a major part of the Alliance and includes seeking opportunities for both OSHA and AMI to jointly develop and disseminate information and guidance through the media, particularly on both organizations' web sites. OSHA and AMI will also promote and encourage AMI members' participation in OSHA's cooperative programs, such as compliance assistance, the Voluntary Protection Program, Consultation, the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, as well as mentoring among AMI members.

Training and education goals have been set, including working together to cross-train OSHA personnel and industry safety and health professionals in AMI ergonomic best practices or programs. AMI will also include ergonomics training sessions at the annual American Meat Institute Foundation Worker Safety, Health and Human Resources conference.

A team of OSHA and AMI representatives will meet at least quarterly to develop an action plan, determine working procedures, and identify the roles and responsibilities of the participants. OSHA will also offer the opportunity for representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association and the association of state Consultation Projects to participate in the Alliance.


The exposure of employees to several safety and health hazards in the workplace, including potential falls, amputations, electrocutions, and chemical exposures, has resulted in two Silver Bay, N.Y. employers being cited for safety and health violations.

According to OSHA Albany area office director John Tomich, Morgan Marine Base, Inc. and Hacker Boat Company, Inc., both located on Route 9N in Silver Bay, and both owned by the same employer, were inspected this past summer as the result of a referral to OSHA from the New York State Lake George Commission. Hacker Boat manufactures wooden powerboats and Morgan Marine Base is that company's marina and repair shop.

Tomich noted that several of the same citations were issued to both companies, since employees perform work for either company and are exposed to the same hazardous conditions in either case. Both companies were cited for seven similar alleged serious violations, including inadequate leak-proof protection around a 1000-gallon gasoline tank, lack of fall protection, lack of an adequate lockout/tagout program for controlling hazardous energy including procedures and training, lack of machine guarding for saws, lack of a hazard communication program and training for chemical use, and lack of a proper eyewash/shower facility where employees were exposed to corrosive materials. Hacker was also issued a serious citation for exposing employees to electrical hazards. The combined penalties for these alleged serious violations totaled $13,250.

The companies were issued other-than-serious citations, with no proposed penalties, for not maintaining injury and illness logs, not documenting and certifying crane inspections, and alleged violations concerning the use of respirators and dust masks.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. An other-than-serious violation is a condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

Tomich noted that, over the coming year, his office will be conducting a number of planned inspections of marinas under a local emphasis program that is designed to focus on many of the same safety and health issues uncovered and cited as the result of the Morgan Marine Base and Hacker Boat Company inspection.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, and/or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Most of the nation will return to standard time at 2 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, when clocks will be set back one hour. The change will provide an additional hour of daylight in the morning.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta also reminds Americans to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they change the time on their clocks.

¦When changing your clocks, remember the old saying: OSpring ahead, fall back,¦¦ Secretary Mineta said. ¦It¦s also a good time to make sure your smoke alarm has a new battery.¦

Under law, daylight saving time is observed from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. Next spring, the nation will return to daylight saving time starting Sunday, April 6.

The federal law does not require any area to observe daylight saving time. But if a state chooses to observe daylight time, it must follow the starting and ending dates set by the law.

In those parts of the country that do not observe daylight time, no resetting of clocks is required. Those states and territories include Arizona, Hawaii, the part of Indiana located in the Eastern time zone, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas. In December 2000, Congress established the ninth U.S. time zone, the Chamorro Time Zone, for Guam and the Northern Marianas west of the International Date Line. The zone, whose time is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, is named for the indigenous people of the region.

Daylight saving time is a change in the standard time of each time zone. Time zones were first used in the United States in 1883 by the railroads to standardize their schedules. In 1918, Congress made the railroad zones official under federal law and assigned the responsibility for any changes that might be needed to the Interstate Commerce Commission, then the only federal regulatory agency. In the Uniform Time Act of 1966, Congress established uniform dates for daylight saving time and transferred responsibility for the time laws to the U.S. Department of Transportation.


OSHA recently updated a number of publications designed to help the regulated community understand and comply with OSHA regulations. Publications updated include:

OSHA Inspections (#2098 - download at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha2098.pdf) Excavations (#2226 - http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha2226.pdf) Materials Handling and Storage (#2236 - download at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha2236.pdf) Job Hazard Analysis (#3071 - download at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3071.pdf) Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (#3120 - download at )

The downloaded documents are in Adobe Acrobat format. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat on your computer, you can download a free version at http://www.adobe.com.