Happy new year, readers! We’re kicking off 2013 with a round up of chemical health and safety news from over the holidays:
- Nature has some early analysis of the lab safety survey ran last summer by Nature Publishing Group, the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety, and BioRAFT. Scientific American (also published by NPG) also ran the story and readers have posted a few comments in response to it.
- Jumping off from the survey, Occam’s Corner writes about ‘Elf and Safety gone mad
- Members of hazmat crew that responded to a train derailment and vinyl chloride spill in New Jersey quit the team because the county doesn’t have the equipment to keep them safe, they say
- “They were not thinking of him as a human being,” says the son of a worker who died after being “scalded by a 185-degree solution of water and citric acid” at a factory owned by packaging manufacturer Raani; the story is part of the Center for Public Integrity’s “Hard Labor” series, which also had a story out on companies avoiding OSHA penalties even after workplace deaths
- The Gulf of Mexico/Deepwater Horizon oil spill cases move on: First BP agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect related to worker deaths and pay $14.5 billion in fines and other penalties, now Transocean will pay $1.4 billion
- The November issue of AIChE’s Process Safety Beacon challenged readers to identify the safety problems in several photographs. The January issue has the answers.
- Methylmercury levels spiked after Tennessee coal ash spill: Bacteria in nearby rivers transformed mercury from the spill into more harmful form
- OSHA released a cadmium biological monitoring tool that analyzes worker exposure
- The U.S. Senate confirmed public health professor Beth Rosenberg to fill one of three vacancies on the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board, while President Barack Obama nominated Richard J. Engler, founder and director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council, to the board
Fires and explosions:
- Shredding an industrial filter containing friction-sensitive (?) sodium chlorate caused a flash fire at an industrial waste facility in Ohio, injuring two workers
- A fire in a PPG vinyl chloride facility in Louisiana injured one worker
- Unidentified chemicals mixed in a drum caused a fire at a Voltaix facility in New Jersey; the fire department let it burn itself out
- Depending on which story you read, either sodium permanganate or rags used to clean up potassium permanganate caused a fire in a chemical storage unit in Massachusetts owned by Shaw Environmental, although reportedly none of the stored chemicals caught fire
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- Release of hydrochloric acid fumes was caused by mixing together three chemicals at a Sanmia plant in Wisconsin; four or five employees were transported to a local hospital for respiratory problems
Not covered (usually): meth labs; ammonia leaks; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; transportation spills; things that happen at recycling centers (dispose of your waste properly, people!); and fires from oil, natural gas, or other fuels.