Chemical health and safety news from the past week:
- Gaussling discussed syringe use and academic lab due diligence post-Sangji
- Wearing a lab coat makes you more attentive, according to one study
- Cal/OSHA fined Membrane Technology & Research nearly $56,000 for a gas cylinder explosion in September, 2011, that killed one worker and injured another:
At 3:40 p.m. on Sept. 2, Adrian Martin, 55, was mixing butane, helium, nitrogen and methane in a propane cylinder with a maximum allowable working pressure of 300 psi, according to an investigation summary. The concentration of the gases, however, boosted pressure to between 700 and 800 psi.
The 15-inch-diameter, nearly 4-foot-tall cylinder exploded as Martin added more methane in an effort to achieve a 90 percent concentration of the gas, the report said. Had the San Jose resident succeeded, the pressure in the cylinder would have reached at least 1,200 psi.
Investigators also determined that the cylinder wasn’t equipped with a proper pressure relief valve. The device was set to activate above 3,360 psi, more than 10 times the maximum allowable working pressure of the cylinder. …
The company was cited among other things for neglecting to “do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life and safety of employees.” Penalties were also assessed for improper use of cylinders and failure to equip them with correct pressure relief valves. Several of the cylinders were labeled as containing hydrogen when they were actually filled with other gases.
- Monsanto agreed to pay up to $93 million to monitor the heath and clean homes of West Virginia residents who lived near a plant that once made an Agent Orange ingredient
- OSHA and the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication renewed “an alliance to promote best practices to reduce worker exposures to chemical hazards”
- AIChE’s March issue of the Process Safety Beacon is out: “Double Block and Bleed,” which I’ll summarize as “make sure you understand your valve and vent systems”
- An Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research paper analyzed a 1968 plant explosion in Italy: Five Dead and Five Injured in a Dimethyl Terephthalate Plant Accident: Serious Errors in the Plant Design Coupled with Incorrect Maintenance Management
Fires and explosions:
- An explosion killed at least 17 people and injured 46 more at pesticide-maker Hebei Zhaoxian Keeper Chemical in China; dozens more were missing but emergency response was hampered by the risk of more explosions
- A fire in a chemistry or biology lab at the University of Texas, Austin, reportedly started in a refrigerator; damage is mostly due to water and estimated at $15,000
- A “chemical reaction of several chemicals contained in a cardboard box on a counter” likely started a fire at a Pennsylvania high school
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- Sulfuric acid spilled at Optiforms in California, although there are two different versions of the accident: A worker slipped and dropped acid containers or dropped one and then slipped on the spill. The worker suffered second-degree acid burns over 18 percent of his body and also cut his hand.
Not covered: meth labs; ammonia leaks; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; transportation spills; and fires from oil, natural gas, or other fuels.