February 25, 2019
OSHA issued the following statement in response to a New Jersey safety trainer's guilty plea of selling more than 100 fraudulent training cards.
"OSHA's outreach training serves to educate workers about safety issues they will encounter on the jobsite," said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson. "Falsifying documents not only undermines the program, it fails to protect workers on the job. OSHA will refer fraudulent activity to the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General, and trainers caught falsifying information will be subject to criminal prosecution."
The Outreach Training Program
trains workers on the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of workplace hazards. The voluntary program also provides information on workers' rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint.
Recent articles on fake OSHA cards:
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Can Mixing Household Cleaners Kill You?
When the bathroom starts looking grimy, and it’s time to whip out yellow gloves, the only thing that matters is getting the job done quickly. So you open the cabinet, see a bunch of bottles and think, “Hey, this cleans, and that cleans, so why not mix them all together? That’ll kill dirt and grime even faster!” Think again –– your all-purpose cleaning cocktail could turn a bad day even worse. Can death by toilet-bowl cleaning really happen? Watch this video to find out: https://youtu.be/FH1h0oWjark
Hilti Fined $164,802 After Employee Injury at Georgia Distribution Center
OSHA has cited Hilti Inc. – a hardware merchant wholesaler – for exposing employees to struck-by hazards after an employee was injured while operating a forklift at a distribution center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Plano, Texas-based company faces penalties of $164,802.
OSHA inspectors determined that Hilti failed to provide forklift operator training and instructions
to employees operating the vehicles, and ensure that employees performed daily forklift inspections. The company also exposed employees to corrosive materials; failed to provide eyewash stations and showers in the work area; failed to develop a written hazard communication program
and data sheets for forklift battery electrolytes; and failed to notify OSHA
within 24 hours of any incident that leads to an employee’s hospitalization, as required.
“Developing, implementing, and maintaining a safety and health program, and ensuring safety standards are followed can significantly reduce the chance of unfortunate incidents such as this one,” said OSHA Atlanta-East Area Director William Fulcher.
Mississippi Paper Manufacturer Cited for Workplace Safety Violations, Faces $303,657 in Penalties
OSHA has cited von Drehle Corp. – a paper products manufacturer – for several workplace safety hazards that put employees at risk of injury at its facility in Natchez, Mississippi. The paper manufacturer faces $303,657 in penalties, including one for the maximum amount allowed by law.
“Employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace,” said OSHA Jackson Area Office Director Courtney Bohannon. “The inspection results demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed putting workers at serious risk of injury or death.”
Motion Picture Company Cited for Failing to Adequately Protect Stuntmen from On-Set Hazards
OSHA has cited Eye Productions Inc. for failing to protect employees from hazards while filming a television show in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. Proposed penalties total $9,472.
OSHA investigated the incident after a stuntman was injured while performing a stunt from a moving vehicle traveling approximately 18 mph. OSHA issued a serious citation
for failing to provide adequate head protection during stunts.
“This incident underscores the requirement for employers in the entertainment industry to implement better safety practices to protect actors and stunt persons from serious injuries,” said OSHA Atlanta-West Acting Area Director Keith Hass.
Contractors Cited After Worker Killed in Tunnel Construction Accident
Cal/OSHA has cited a joint venture formed between two contractors $65,300 for multiple serious safety violations after a worker was fatally struck by a steel beam last August while working on a light rail tunnel project in San Francisco.
“Hazards in tunnel construction work can include cave-ins, falling objects and breathable airborne contaminants,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must identify and evaluate the particular hazards in their workplace and train employees on safe work practices to avoid injury, illness or even death.”
Shimmick Construction Co., Inc. of Oakland and Con-Quest Contractors Inc. of San Francisco formed a joint venture to work on the Twin Peaks Tunnel Rehabilitation & Rail Replacement project, which included refurbishing infrastructure, replacing rails and upgrading signal systems and other parts of the over 100-year-old tunnel.
On August 10, 2018, employees were using heavy equipment and tools to work in and around the tunnel. One worker was operating a rail crane to push two flat railcars loaded with equipment into the tunnel. The crane’s boom was in an upward vertical position when it struck an overhead steel beam. The beam was dislodged from its support brackets and fell approximately 13 feet, fatally crushing an employee walking nearby.
Cal/OSHA investigators learned the two employers did not identify the potential hazards presented by pushing two loaded flat railcars into the tunnel and did not control the crane’s travel to avoid collisions. Investigators discovered the crane operators had not been trained to safely operate the equipment, and workers had not been trained on safe procedures when the crane was being operated near them.
Cal/OSHA cited the joint venture $65,300 in proposed penalties for two serious and two serious accident-related violations. The serious accident-related violations were cited for the employer’s failure to implement an effective injury and illness prevention plan and failure to control the crane while it was moving. The serious citations were issued for violations related to the employer’s failure to safely transport workers while in the tunnel.
A violation is classified as serious when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation. Violations are classified as accident-related when the injury, illness or fatality is caused by the violation.
Cal/OSHA’s Mining and Tunneling Unit
investigates complaints of hazards and reports of accidents in mines and tunnels, and issues citations when violations are found. It also conducts pre-job safety conferences, issues permits prior to any initial underground mining or tunneling operation, performs periodic inspections of tunnels, mines and quarries, and offers safety training
Contractor Who Put His Workers at Risk of Asbestos Exposure Sentenced in Federal Court
An experienced Algona contractor who purchased and renovated the former Kossuth County Home without thoroughly inspecting for asbestos was sentenced February 13, 2019, to two years of probation.
Steven A. Weaver from Algona, Iowa, received sentence after an October 11, 2018 guilty plea to one count of violating clean air work practice standards. In the plea agreement, Weaver admitted he was an experienced contractor and building inspector who had worked for various Iowa municipalities since the early 2000s. During this time, Weaver performed work for the municipalities that was financed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Iowa Finance Authority. Weaver was responsible for conducting initial inspections of residential properties to determine whether it was cost-effective to rehabilitate each home. In conjunction with this work, Weaver gained experience working with lead and asbestos.
In November 2013, Weaver purchased the former Kossuth County Home in the Algona area. Weaver intended to convert the building into apartments to be known as “The Oasis.” Weaver hired workers to renovate the building. None of these workers were licensed to remove asbestos. Prior to beginning the renovation, Weaver failed to thoroughly inspect the building for asbestos to determine whether it was subject to regulation.
In November 2014, the EPA searched Weaver’s property and determined piping in the basement contained regulated asbestos. Weaver’s workers had already removed the piping. An EPA agent asked Weaver whether he had notified the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”) before the renovation and, when Weaver indicated he had not, the EPA agent instructed Weaver to report to IDNR. However, Weaver did not notify IDNR. Instead, Weaver continued the renovation operation in late 2014 without properly notifying IDNR.
Weaver was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Chief Judge Strand indicated the offense was “aggravating” because Weaver had cut corners on his own renovation project and potentially put his workers at risk of asbestos exposure. Weaver was sentenced to two years of probation, fined $10,000, and ordered to pay costs of prosecution in the amount of $1,573.35.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tim Vavricek and Matt Cole and investigated by the EPA.
CSB Finds Thermal Fatigue at the Heart of Pascagoula Gas Plant Explosion
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board released its final report of the June 27, 2016, investigation
of an explosion and fire at the Enterprise Products Pascagoula Gas Plant in Pascagoula, MS. The CSB determined that the probable cause was a phenomenon known as thermal fatigue. The CSB also issued recommendations to two trade associations and local emergency responders.
The incident occurred late in the evening on June 27, 2016, when a major loss of containment in a heat exchanger resulted in the release of methane, ethane, propane, and several other hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons ignited, initiating a series of fires and explosions, which ultimately shut down the site for almost six months.
CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski said, “More than 500 gas processing facilities operate across the country and the use of similar heat exchangers is common. Extending the life cycle of equipment at these facilities requires more robust inspection protocols. Operators shouldn’t take the risk of waiting to find a leak because, as this case demonstrates, that leak could result in a catastrophic failure.”
The Enterprise Plant receives raw natural gas via a pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico and separates the material into two products: natural gas liquids, which serve as a feedstock to the chemical industry, and a natural gas fuel stream, primarily composed of methane. A key piece of equipment used in the process is a brazed aluminum heat exchanger (BAHX), which allows for the transfer of heat between two different process streams while keeping the streams separate.
The CSB investigation determined that the probable cause of the incident was a failure of the BAHX due to thermal fatigue. The report details how thermal fatigue occurs between aluminum parts of a BAHX. As the exchanger is heated or cooled, the tightly connected parts expand or contract. If the parts change temperatures at sufficiently different rates, the expansion and contraction can be disproportionate. Over time, this process weakens the metal, and ultimately causes cracks, which can lead to the escape of hydrocarbons. Typically, when a leak is found, it can be repaired with minimal expense or consequence before a major loss of containment occurs. Assuming that leaks will be discovered and can be repaired prior to a catastrophic failure is referred to as a “leak-before failure” assumption. Thermal fatigue is a known factor to BAHXs and there is industry guidance on recommended limits for maximum cyclic temperature fluctuations during operation and rates of cooling or heating during startup and shutdown. However, the CSB found this guidance was not robust for the diverse operations and environments where BAHXs operate.
At the Enterprise Gas Plant, process data for the exchangers show that the BAHXs were repeatedly subjected to temperature changes that exceeded industry-recommended practices. This increases stresses on the connections within the heat exchangers as the aluminum parts push against and pull apart from each other. At Enterprise, over a 17-year period, four different BAHX heat exchangers were repaired nine times.
The 2016 incident, as well as four other BAHX failure events at other facilities, illustrate that relying on a leak-before-failure assumption is not adequate. Operators of midstream gas plants need a more robust assessment and risk management plan that considers thermal fatigue to prevent the risk of sudden and catastrophic rupture of BAHX.
Investigator William Hougland said, “A number of midstream gas plant operators have reported that the limits and rates in existing industry guidance may not be realistic. Our report encourages a meaningful dialogue among BAHX manufacturers, gas processors, and repair technicians. The CSB concluded that more realistic and updated guidance is needed to improve the safe use of BAHX.”
The CSB issued recomuedmendations to two trade associations, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and GPA Midstream Association, to share information related to failure hazards of BAHXs from thermal fatigue.
The CSB’s report further discusses issues related to emergency response following the incident. Although no off-site property damage was reported, many nearby residents chose to evacuate. After the incident, members of a local community organization expressed concern to the CSB that some residents did not know how to respond. As a result, the CSB recommends a more robust and engaged community alert network—one that includes social media and the ability to expand opportunities to interact with the community throughout an incident.
The CSB also released an interactive 3D model of the heat exchanger used at the Enterprise Plant to enhance understanding of how this type of heat exchanger operates and its vulnerability to thermal fatigue.
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