Unintended consequences: Exploding pianos
Sep10

Unintended consequences: Exploding pianos

From Periodic Videos, an old story about pianos, theatrical “flash pots,” and flour. “It was a really dumb idea,” says Martyn Poliakoff, a chemistry professor at the University of...

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Chemical safety tidbits and papers, from OPRD
Apr09

Chemical safety tidbits and papers, from OPRD

A tweet from Chemjobber that Organic Process Research & Development editor Trevor Laird is retiring at the end of the year made me realize that I forgot to highlight OPRD’s annual “Safety of Chemical Processes” section at the end of last year. Making up for the omission: Laird’s editorial: “There is a long way to go to educate and train to a high standard all chemists working in laboratories and chemical plants and to minimize the number of these incidents, which lead to damage to buildings and loss of profits, as well as loss of life. Companies always measure the cost of doing something (e.g., training) but never measure the cost of not doing something; there is a cost of not training staff, however, just as there is a cost associated with not complying with regulations (e.g., FDA regulations).” Safety Notables: Information from the Literature, including notes about Togni’s reagent, dimethylsulfoxide, hydroxylamine, peroxides, dimethyldioxirane, nitro-explosives, and safer reagents for a number of reactions Hydrazine and Aqueous Hydrazine Solutions: Evaluating Safety in Chemical Processes, from Lilly Research Laboratories Safer Preparation of m-CPBA/DMF Solution in Pilot Plant, from Suzhou Novartis Pharma Technology Process Safety Evaluation To Identify the Inherent Hazards of a Highly Exothermic Ritter Reaction Using Adiabatic and Isothermal Calorimeters, from Mylan Laboratories Safe Scale-Up of a Hydrazine Condensation by the Addition of a Base, from AbbVie Merck’s Reaction Review Policy: An Exercise in Process Safety, from...

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#Chemsafety at #ACSDallas
Mar12

#Chemsafety at #ACSDallas

The 247th ACS National Meeting starts on Sunday in Dallas, Tex. Here are the chemical and laboratory safety events that will be happening there. If you’d like a nicely-formatted version to print, check out CHAS-at-a-Glance. SUNDAY Division of Chemical Health & Safety executive committee meeting, open to all ACS members; 8:30 am-noon; Convention Center room D169 Ask Dr. Safety: Protecting reproductive health in the laboratory environment; 1:30-3:10 pm; Convention Center room A120/A120 MONDAY Committee on Chemical Safety meeting; 8:30-11:30 am; Sheraton, 400 N Olive St, room Lone Star C2 Benefits of chemistry in our lives; 8:00-10:20 am; Sheraton Dallas, Austin Ballroom 2 (cosponsored PRES event) eLearning: What we’ve learned and where we’re going; 1:30-3:50 pm; Convention Center room A120/A120 Chemical safety of energy and food; 4:00-5:10 pm; Convention Center room A120/A120 Social hour; 5:30-7:30 pm; Iron Cactus, 1520 Main St (hosted by CHAS, PROF, and...

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How freight company Saia trains and monitors its drivers
Jan16

How freight company Saia trains and monitors its drivers

As seen in a variety of rail and truck incidents, chemical manufacturing sites are not the only places where hazardous chemicals can be a concern. Those chemicals often must transported safely to another facility. For trucking operations, safe transportation “starts with hiring the right drivers, training them correctly, and then monitoring them for performance,” says Karla Staver of Saia LTL Freight. Saia won an American Chemistry Council Responsible Care Partner Award last year. As a company, Saia tries to keep in mind that its employee’s families share the roads with the shipments the company hauls, says Staver, who is Saia’s director of safety and claims prevention. When hiring, Saia couples road tests with extensive background checks that look at an applicant’s driving record and which companies they’ve already driven for. “Our top candidates have at least a year’s worth of experience,” she says. Once hired, drivers get instruction on topics such as forklift use, hazardous materials, and hazard communication standards. They then spend a week working with a driver trainer. Staver characterizes driver trainers as “top drivers within the company who have expressed an interest in helping train.” The trainers focus on defensive driving techniques, such as being aware of traffic behavior and leaving appropriate space cushions. “We have had drivers that we brought on who don’t make it through that week because they didn’t meet our expectations of safety performance,” Staver says. Saia then continues to monitor its drivers long term, Staver says. The company has both city and long-haul drivers. “City drivers we see frequently, and they’re a little bit easier to score, such as by how much brake do they bring back every day or are there any issues with customers,” Staver says. Long-haul drivers are harder to evaluate. Saia has installed camera systems in its trucks that save a recording of 10 seconds prior to certain trigger events, such as a hard-braking situation. The company gets an email alert and then can look at the recording and assess the event for the root cause, such the driver following another vehicle too closely, getting cut off, or avoiding debris on the road, Staver says. When the company piloted the system, they put it in 10 trucks in the Los Angeles area. The company found that generally its drivers were performing better than expected. “We were, frankly, shocked at the statistics that we got back,” Staver says. Nevertheless, there were a few drivers that needed correction. The videos themselves became coaching tools. “It was great to turn it around to the driver and say ‘tell me what you see,’” she says. For hazardous materials, drivers are taught...

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Friday chemical safety round up
Nov01

Friday chemical safety round up

Chemical health and safety news from the past two weeks: Via in the Pipeline, a method for a flow method to generate diazomethane as you use it Chemjobber discussed using “coupons” to test whether a reaction and reactor are compatible Nitrocellulose won’t explode in a vacuum November’s AiChE Process Safety Beacon discusses process plant operations over holidays The Center for Public Integrity released a package called Breathless and Burdened, “how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, have helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung” (I haven’t read any of it yet, but I have a nice, long plane ride coming up on Sunday) The former president and owner of Port Arthur Chemical & Environmental Services was sentenced to one year in prison for occupational safety crimes that led to the death of truck driver Joey Sutter from exposure to hydrogen sulfide OSHA issued 36 notices of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions to the Crane Army Ammunition Activity after an explosion and fire in a pyrotechnic building injured five workers earlier this year Fires and exposions: A disilane release started a fire at Voltaix in New Jersey Some sort of chemical leak led to a fire at MWV Specialty Chemicals in South Carolina Leaks, spills, and other exposures: A methylene chloride leak at DuPont Fayetteville Works in North Carolina sent one unconscious employee plus several others to the hospital Boiling iodine spilled at an Emerson manufacturing facility in New Jersey A drum of an organic peroxide leaked at a facility in Florida “Mixed chemicals caused a reaction” at Carboline in Wisconsin, workers “placed the batch of mixture they were making into six 55 gallon drums and moved them outside” Something spilled and created “noxious fumes” at SynergEyes in California “A small chemical vial in a materials science lab ruptured” in a NASA Langley lab in Virginia, “when employees went to check out the noise they noticed an unusual smell and followed proper emergency protocols” Ammonia–at a PepsiCo plant in Indiana; on the roof of Villari Foods in North Carolina Boron trichloride was released in a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, lab; four students were taken to the hospital for observation “Accidental reaction to waste products from a chemistry experiment” caused a fire at a high school in Tennessee Sriracha hot sauce production is reportedly causing headaches and burning eyes in the Los Angeles area Overdoses of Axe body spray are proving too much for middle school classrooms Not covered (usually): meth labs; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; transportation spills; things that happen at recycling centers (dispose...

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Attorneys will argue on three motions on Monday in case against Patrick Harran
Aug23

Attorneys will argue on three motions on Monday in case against Patrick Harran

With Michael Torrice On Monday, Aug. 26, University of California, Los Angeles, chemistry professor Patrick G. Harran is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing regarding felony charges of violating the state labor code. The charges stem from the death of research assistant Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji after a 2008 fire in Harran’s lab. Harran was initially charged in the case on Dec. 29, 2011. Preliminary hearing testimony was heard in November and December, 2012. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench ruled on April 26 that there was sufficient evidence to send the case to trial. Harran faces four charges of violating California Labor Code section 6425(a), which makes it a crime for “Any employer and any employee having direction, management, control, or custody of any employment, place of employment, or of any other employee” to willfully violate an occupational safety or health standard in such a way that causes death or permanent or prolonged impairment of the body of an employee. The four specific charges center on: Failure to provide employees with information and training to ensure they are apprised of the hazards of chemicals present in their work area [Title 8, section 5191(f)(4)] Failure to establish, implement, and maintain an effective injury and illness prevention program that includes “methods and/or procedures for correcting unsafe or unhealthy conditions, work practices and work procedures in a timely manner based on the severity of the hazard” [Title 8, section 3203(a)(6)] Failure to require body protection for “employees whose work exposes parts of their body, not otherwise protected as required by other orders in this article, to hazardous or flying substances or objects” [Title 8, section 3383(a)] Failure to require “clothing appropriate for the work being done” [Title 8, section 3383(b)] Monday’s hearing will center on three motions filed by Harran’s defense team to try to get the case dismissed. While we have not yet been able to obtain the initial motions, we have the district attorney’s opposition arguments and the defense’s replies to the opposition. Motion to dismiss pursuant to penal code section 995 California Penal Code section 995 says that an indictment or information shall be set aside by the court in a few specific situations, such as if a defendant has been indicted without reasonable or probable cause. From the district attorney’s opposition document, page 10: Distilled to its essence, the Motion to Dismiss claims: 1) The California Code of Regulations sections charged do not apply to defendant Harran because they only apply to an “employer”; 2) Defendant Harran did not “willfully” violate the law because he was unaware of his duties; 3) Victim Sangji...

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