DuPont named severe violator by OSHA
Jul10

DuPont named severe violator by OSHA

The Department of Labor announced yesterday that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has placed DuPont in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, following a 2014 methyl mercaptan leak that killed four workers and injured a fifth at a DuPont plant in La Porte, Texas. In May, 2015, OSHA cited DuPont for 14 safety violations and proposed fines totaling $99,000. The citations were for: 29 CPR 191 0.119(d)(3)(i)(B): Process safety information pertaining to the equipment in the process did not include the piping and instrument diagrams (P&IDs) [Serious] 29 CFR 191 0.119(e)(1): The process hazard analysis was not appropriate to the complexity of the process and did not identify, evaluate, and control the hazards involved in the process [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.119(e)(3)(iii): The process hazards analysis did not address Engineering and administrative controls applicable to the hazards and their interrelationships such as appropriate application of detection methodologies to provide early warning of releases [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.119(f)(1)(ii)(B): The employers written operating procedures covering operating limits did not address the steps required to correct deviations [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.119(f)(4): The employer did not develop and implement safe work practices to provide for the control of hazards during operations such as lockout/tagout; confined space entry; opening process equipment or piping; and control over entrance into a facility by maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.119(j)(5): Equipment deficiencies [Serious] 29 CPR 1910.119(1)(1): The employer did not establish and implement written procedures to manage changes to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and procedures; and, changes to facilities that affect a covered process [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.119(1)( 4): Process safety information required by paragraph (d) of this section was not updated when a change covered by this paragraph resulted in a change in the process safety information [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.134(c)(1)(vii) The employer failed to train employees in the respiratory hazards to which they are potentially exposed during routine situations [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.165(b)(1): The employee alarm system did not provide warning for reaction time for safe escape of employees from the workplace or the immediate work area, or both [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.1000(a)(1): Employee(s) were exposed to an airborne concentration of Methyl Mercaptan listed in Table Z-1 in excess of the ceiling concentration of 10 ppm [Serious] 29 CFR 1910.1000(e): Administrative or engineering controls were not used and implemented to achieve compliance with the limits prescribed in 29 CFR 1910.1000(a) through (d) [Serious] 29 CFR 191 0.119(g)(1 )(i): Each employee presently involved in operating a process, and each employee before being involved in operating a newly assigned process, was not trained in an overview of the process and in the operating...

Read More
OSHA fines DuPont for methyl mercaptan deaths
May20

OSHA fines DuPont for methyl mercaptan deaths

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has cited DuPont for 11 worker safety violations for a November, 2014, methyl mercaptan leak that killed four workers. The citations come with a total fine of $99,000. Methyl mercaptan is used to make the insecticide methomyl. DuPont determined that more than 23,000 lb of methyl mercaptan was released in the incident, C&EN reports. “The fatal incident occurred as one worker was overwhelmed when methyl mercaptan gas was unexpectedly released when she opened a drain on a methyl mercaptan vent line,” an OSHA press release says. “Two co-workers who came to her aid were also overcome. None of the three wore protective respirators. A fourth co-worker – the brother of one of the fallen men – attempted a rescue, but was unsuccessful. All four people died in the building.” The OSHA citations involved violations of 29 CFR 1910 part 119, process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals; part 134, respiratory protection; part 165, employee alarm systems; and part 1000, air contaminants. The specific citations are: 1.1 – Serious – 29 CFR 1910.119(d)(3)(i)(B): Process safety information pertaining to the equipment in the process did not include the piping and instrument diagrams (P&IDs). 1.2a – Serious – 29 CFR 1910.119(e)(1): The process hazard analysis was not appropriate to the complexity of the process and did not identify, evaluate, and control the hazards involved in the process. 1.2b – Serious – 29 CFR 1910.119(e)(3)(iii): The process hazards analysis did not address engineering and administrative controls applicable to the hazards and their interrelationships such as appropriate application of detection methodologies to provide early warning of releases. 1.3 – Serious – 29 CFR 1910.119(f)(1)(ii)(B): The employers written operating procedures covering operating limits did not address the steps required to correct deviations -In the Alternative- 29 CFR 191 0.119(J)(2): The employer did not establish and implement written procedures to maintain the on-going integrity of process equipment as required. 1.4 – Serious – 29 CFR 1910.119(f)(4): The employer did not develop and implement safe work practices to provide for the control of hazards during operations such as lockout/tagout; confined space entry; opening process equipment or piping; and control over entrance into a facility by maintenance, contractor, laboratory, or other support personnel. These safe work practices shall apply to employees and contractor employees. 1.5 – Serious – 29 CFR 1910.119(j)(5): Equipment deficiencies. The employer did not correct deficiencies in equipment that are outside acceptable limits (defined by the process safety information in paragraph (d) of this section) before further use or in a safe and timely manner when necessary means are taken to assure safe operation. 1.6a – Serious –...

Read More
Trimethylsilyldiazomethane safety under investigation
May12

Trimethylsilyldiazomethane safety under investigation

Back in 2008, two chemists died after exposure to trimethylsilyldiazomethane (TMSD): Jason Siddell, age 24 and employed at Gelest, and Roland Daigle, age 46 and employed at Sepracor Canada (now Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Canada). This year, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) is finally studying the compound’s toxicity. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) investigated Siddell’s death. OSHA cited Gelest for violating hazard communication standards and fined the company $1,500. Daigle’s case was investigated by the Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Advanced Education and the province filed five charges against Sepracor Canada. The company agreed to a deal that involved pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide proper workplace ventilation and a $47,000 fine. A bit more detail about what happened to Daigle can be found in a case report published in Clin. Toxicol. 2009, DOI: 10.1080/15563650903076924 (abstract 48). U.S. OSHA also nominated TMSD for study by NTP. As Derek Lowe has noted, many people believe TMSD is safer than diazomethane. TMSD is safer if you just consider explosive properties. But toxicologically, TMSD may be just as poisonous as diazomethane. The toxicology studies will say for sure. NTP is part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and according to institute spokeswoman Robin Mackar, NTP has developed and validated an inhalation exposure system and plans to start acute toxicity studies in the fall. “The primary focus of these studies is to evaluate potential pulmonary toxicity, but other tissues will be assessed,” Mackar adds. “Once the research and analysis is completed, the results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal...

Read More
Safety agency news mini-round-up
Jul01

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...

Read More
New OSHA tools for controlling chemical exposure
Oct24

New OSHA tools for controlling chemical exposure

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration today announced two new resources to help control and minimize chemical exposure in the workplace. I wasn’t able to listen to the press conference and I haven’t had time to look at the web pages closely, but I thought they deserved a quick post of their own rather than folding them into tomorrow’s round up. Transitioning to Safer Chemicals: A Toolkit for Employers and Workers This appears to be a framework intended to guide employers through the process of identifying hazardous chemicals they want to replace and actually finding a replacement. The steps include links to non-OSHA tools such as the Chemical Hazard & Alternatives Toolbox and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Alternatives Assessments methodology. Permissible Exposure Limits: Annotated Tables I’ll let OSHA explain the background: “OSHA recognizes that many of its permissible exposure limits (PELs) are outdated and inadequate for ensuring protection of worker health. Most of OSHA’s PELs were issued shortly after adoption of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act in 1970, and have not been updated since that time.” Many people have despaired of OSHA ever updating its PELs, and OSHA is clearly not optimistic on that front, either. What the agency did here is annotate its PEL tables to include California’s PELs, NIOSH’s recommended exposure limits, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recommendations. The limits set by these organizations reflect more recent science and are likely to better protect workers. They’re not legally binding, but OSHA now recommends using them (if you’re in California, of course, you must follow Cal/OSHA PELs). Update: My colleague Cheryl Hogue covered the OSHA...

Read More
Recognizing chemical hazards
Jun12

Recognizing chemical hazards

I’ve got a story in this week’s issue of C&EN on OSHA’s new Hazard Communication standard (aka “HazCom”), the regulation that determines how chemical safety information is relayed to workers, and what bench chemists need to know about the chemical labels and safety data sheets coming their way. “Memorize the pictograms” is really the take-home point. To that end, it’s important for people to recognize the distinctions between them. The two groups that I think require particular attention are the three health-related pictograms (human profile, exclamation mark, and skull and crossbones) and the flammables and oxidizers (flame and flame over circle). C&EN Design Director Rob Bryson worked with me to group those in print, but that was difficult to do in our web and mobile formats. We posted online a pdf of the print pages as an additional resource for our readers. Also in this week’s issue is a comment from Robert H. Hill Jr., chair of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety, discussing the Safety Culture Task Force report on “Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions.” And now I will sign off for the rest of the week, as I head to Boston to immerse myself in the Investigative Reporters & Editors annual conference! The Friday news round-up will return on June...

Read More