Safety agency news mini-round-up

I know that many blog readers like the chemical safety news round-ups, which went on hiatus for many months while I was busy with other things. I’m hoping to make a fresh start on those in a couple of weeks, after I return from vacation. This week my goal is to clean out my safety items folder, and as part of that I’m aiming to do a post a day with a few things each.

Today is government agency day.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration
OSHA released an interactive game-based training tool for hazard identification:

OSHA also clarified injury and illness recordkeeping for temporary workers, reestablished its whistleblower protection advisory committee, and scheduled a meeting in October to discuss efforts to improve its Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory Program, which tests and certifies equipment such as fire extinguishers.

Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board
The board is down to merely two members, when it should have five. Beth Rosenberg resigned to return to Tufts University School of Medicine, where she believes “she will be more effective in promoting worker safety issues at Tufts than at CSB. She tells C&EN she will work on demonstrating that worker fatigue and lack of maintenance often contribute to industrial accidents. CSB investigations have pointed out these problems, she says, but the board, in her view, did not emphasize them adequately.”

There are two CSB nominees in the wings, waiting for Senate approval, but lack of board members isn’t CSB’s only problem. Congressional Republicans called for chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso’s resignation in light of a report alleging serious management problems and a “‘toxic’ work environment” that has stalled the agency’s work. Update: The Charleston Gazette’s Sustained Outrage blog also had a post about what’s going on at CSB, with a longer-term, bigger-picture view.

CSB in June also finalized its report about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, specifically regarding why the blowout preventer failed:

After testing individual components of the blowout preventer (BOP) and analyzing all the data from post-accident examinations, the CSB draft report concluded that the BOP’s blind shear ram – an emergency hydraulic device with two sharp cutting blades, intended to seal an out-of-control well – likely did activate on the night of the accident, days earlier than other investigations found. However, the pipe buckling that likely occurred on the night of April 20 prevented the blind shear ram from functioning properly. Instead of cleanly cutting and sealing the well’s drill pipe, the shear ram actually punctured the buckled, off-center pipe, sending huge additional volumes of oil and gas surging toward the surface and initiating the 87-day-long oil and gas release into the Gulf that defied multiple efforts to bring it under control.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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