Safety Consulting Blog
Unseen Threats: Understanding Combustible Dust Hazards in Industrial Settings

Unseen Threats: Understanding Combustible Dust Hazards in Industrial Settings

In the realm of industrial safety, some hazards are less apparent than others, but can be just as deadly. One such silent threat is combustible dust. Combustible dust poses a significant risk in various industries, ranging from food processing and woodworking to chemical manufacturing and metalworking. Despite its subtlety, the potential for catastrophic explosions or fires due to combustible dust cannot be underestimated. Let’s delve into the nature of combustible dust hazards, their causes and strategies for mitigation to ensure safer working environments.

The Newly Regulated NFPA 70B: What Does It Mean and What Does It Cover?

The Newly Regulated NFPA 70B: What Does It Mean and What Does It Cover?

Unplanned downtime, equipment failures and safety hazards brought on by the electrical infrastructure that was installed as a “run to fail” system can have severe consequences. To address these concerns, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed the NFPA 70B. This set of guidelines provides a framework for establishing and maintaining an effective electrical preventive maintenance (EPM) program. The NFPA 70B transitioned from a recommended practice to a standard as of January 2023. Understanding that a standard has language such as “shall” means that the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) can use the 70B as an enforceable code.

Ladder Safety – A Critical but Overlooked Safety Program

Ladder Safety – A Critical but Overlooked Safety Program

Ladder safety is critical in the workplace to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of employees.  Each year in the U.S. there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths that are caused by falls from ladders.  An estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve a ladder.  In most situations, ladders were used improperly.  The most frequent ladder injuries include broken bones and head injuries.  This is why it is crucial for employers to comply with ladder safety requirements set by regulatory bodies like OSHA and ANSI.

What’s the Difference Between OSHA Standards and Consensus Standards? Must I Comply with Both?

What’s the Difference Between OSHA Standards and Consensus Standards? Must I Comply with Both?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. This law created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health regulatory standards. Compliance with regulatory standards is not just a legal obligation, but a fundamental commitment to the well-being of employees. Workplace safety is constantly evolving so it is essential for workplaces to maintain a level of adaptability to stay up to date as regulatory changes occur.

Confined Spaces Have a Plethora of Inherent Dangers

Confined Spaces Have a Plethora of Inherent Dangers

Confined spaces are typically characterized by limited entry and exit points, poor ventilation and restricted mobility, which can create deadly conditions. One of the most significant dangers is the risk of atmospheric hazards such as oxygen deficiency, toxic gases or flammable substances, which can accumulate within confined spaces and pose immediate threats to anyone entering them. Additionally, the confined nature of these spaces can make it difficult to escape in the event of an emergency, increasing the potential for injury or fatality.

The Current Challenges of Process Safety Management

The Current Challenges of Process Safety Management

Process safety management (PSM) is a critical aspect of ensuring the safety and integrity of industrial processes, particularly in industries such as chemical manufacturing, oil and gas production, and pharmaceuticals. While the specific challenges may vary depending on the industry and the nature of the processes involved, there are several common challenges associated with PSM.

Is an Arc Flash Risk Assessment Required for My Facility?

Is an Arc Flash Risk Assessment Required for My Facility?

Unfortunately, a definitive “Yes” or “No” answer to this question is not easy to come by. When I first started in the electrical safety field, I had the same question. Who is required to have an arc flash risk assessment? After some time in the industry, along with doing my own research, I realized the answer is pretty clear, though it takes some code research and understanding of how the codes and standards work together to come to that conclusion. With that said, I’m going to try to break down the code requirements to their simplest form. My hope is that after reading this, you will be able to answer the question: “Is an arc flash risk assessment required for my facility?”

Why Companies Have Not Done a Dust Hazard Analysis

Why Companies Have Not Done a Dust Hazard Analysis

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a revised Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program on January 27, 2023. Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosible. The purpose of the revised emphasis program is to continue OSHA inspections of facilities that generate or handle combustible dusts likely to cause fire, flash fire, deflagration and explosion hazards.

Should You Lockout/Tagout Electrical Cords?

Should You Lockout/Tagout Electrical Cords?

No matter how frequently the control of hazardous energy is featured on OSHA’s annual list of the Top 10 Most Cited Violations (#6 for 2022), lockout/tagout fails to receive the attention it deserves at many manufacturing facilities and remains a black eye for safety programs across the nation.  Because LOTO procedures take time, the process impacts production and ultimately undermines the bottom line.

Electrical Hazards in Higher Education: Is Your Campus Safe?

Electrical Hazards in Higher Education: Is Your Campus Safe?

Electrical safety is an important consideration for colleges and universities, as many aspects of campus life rely on electrical power, including classrooms, dormitories and as well as research and athletic facilities. Safety measures should be put in place to ensure the health and wellbeing of students, faculty and staff, and to protect against electrical fires, electrical shock and static spark, as well as other hazards.

Are Your Qualified Electrical Workers Really “OSHA” Qualified?

Are Your Qualified Electrical Workers Really “OSHA” Qualified?

In the General Industry Standard, OSHA does not go into great depth about who is qualified to work on or near energized electrical equipment.

According to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.399, a “Qualified Person” is defined as “one who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved.” So how does the employer determine and record who is a “Qualified Person”?

Developing Safety and Compliance Training Utilizing the Triple T Method

Developing Safety and Compliance Training Utilizing the Triple T Method

In today’s workplace, safety and compliance training is more important than ever. Having a comprehensive program in place is essential to protecting your employees and customers as well as your business. Safety training and compliance can help reduce workplace accidents and injuries, protect the environment and prevent legal liabilities. In order to accomplish this, EI recommends using the “Triple T” method when developing training: Tailored, Transparent and Timely. 

Arc Flash 101

Arc Flash 101

OSHA describes arc flash as “a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to ground. The results are often violent and when a human is in close proximity to the arc flash, serious injury and even death can occur.” I had never experienced what an arc flash incident looked like until I attended EI’s NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 70E training course and saw a video example of this phenomenon.

The Heat is Coming: Preparing for Inevitable Heat Stress

The Heat is Coming: Preparing for Inevitable Heat Stress

Even though it is a New Year and we are in the middle of winter, there is no time like the present to prepare for the inevitable hotter months to come, as well as potential heat-related illnesses that impact your workforce.  Many of you may be unaware that last April, OSHA added Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards to its National Emphasis Program (NEP). This pioneering effort reinforces OSHA’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking issued in October 2021 which marks the development of a standard that protects indoor and outdoor workers from hazardous heat. While most of us remain bundled up in our winter coats, employers can start acting now to ensure controls are in place for employees during the summer heat as well as remain prepared for OSHA heat-related inspections.

Scaffolding Fatalities – A Preventable Loss

Scaffolding Fatalities – A Preventable Loss

On Monday of this week, three people were killed, and two others injured after a scaffolding collapse at a construction site in Charlotte, North Carolina. All work at the site was halted after the victims fell approximately 70 feet when the scaffolding came apart. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is assisting with the investigation as to the cause of the collapse. A similar incident occurred in 2015 when three construction workers were killed when scaffolding collapsed as it was being dismantled at a high-rise construction site in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.

The TOP 10 OSHA Violations of 2022

The TOP 10 OSHA Violations of 2022

OSHA recently announced its Top 10 Violations for 2022, and the most popular violations from 2021 remain on the list. For the 12th year in a row, Fall Protection was #1 with HazCom, Ladders, Scaffolding, LOTO, PITs, PPE and Machine Guarding also representing safety standards that American industry continues to struggle to get right.  Respiratory protection violations, no doubt due to COVID-19, remained popular, landing at #3 on the list this year.  What does the consistency of the list suggest?  We know how to improve safety in America and too many companies refuse to commit the time and resources to making effective changes.

As Summer Heats Up Protect Your Workers From Heat Stress

As Summer Heats Up Protect Your Workers From Heat Stress

Across the country this week, temperatures are forecasted to reach record highs in many areas. Heat stress may be thought of as a summertime safety issue; however, it is present indoors year-round due to environmental ambient conditions caused by heat sources from process equipment in certain industries.

RECENT POSTS

Unseen Threats: Understanding Combustible Dust Hazards in Industrial Settings

In the realm of industrial safety, some hazards are less apparent than others, but can be just as deadly. One such silent threat is combustible dust. Combustible dust poses a significant risk in various industries, ranging from food processing and woodworking to chemical manufacturing and metalworking. Despite its subtlety, the potential for catastrophic explosions or fires due to combustible dust cannot be underestimated. Let’s delve into the nature of combustible dust hazards, their causes and strategies for mitigation to ensure safer working environments.

read more

Ladder Safety – A Critical but Overlooked Safety Program

Ladder safety is critical in the workplace to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of employees.  Each year in the U.S. there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths that are caused by falls from ladders.  An estimated 81% of fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve a ladder.  In most situations, ladders were used improperly.  The most frequent ladder injuries include broken bones and head injuries.  This is why it is crucial for employers to comply with ladder safety requirements set by regulatory bodies like OSHA and ANSI.

read more

What’s the Difference Between OSHA Standards and Consensus Standards? Must I Comply with Both?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. This law created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health regulatory standards. Compliance with regulatory standards is not just a legal obligation, but a fundamental commitment to the well-being of employees. Workplace safety is constantly evolving so it is essential for workplaces to maintain a level of adaptability to stay up to date as regulatory changes occur.

read more

Confined Spaces Have a Plethora of Inherent Dangers

Confined spaces are typically characterized by limited entry and exit points, poor ventilation and restricted mobility, which can create deadly conditions. One of the most significant dangers is the risk of atmospheric hazards such as oxygen deficiency, toxic gases or flammable substances, which can accumulate within confined spaces and pose immediate threats to anyone entering them. Additionally, the confined nature of these spaces can make it difficult to escape in the event of an emergency, increasing the potential for injury or fatality.

read more

The Current Challenges of Process Safety Management

Process safety management (PSM) is a critical aspect of ensuring the safety and integrity of industrial processes, particularly in industries such as chemical manufacturing, oil and gas production, and pharmaceuticals. While the specific challenges may vary depending on the industry and the nature of the processes involved, there are several common challenges associated with PSM.

read more

Is an Arc Flash Risk Assessment Required for My Facility?

Unfortunately, a definitive “Yes” or “No” answer to this question is not easy to come by. When I first started in the electrical safety field, I had the same question. Who is required to have an arc flash risk assessment? After some time in the industry, along with doing my own research, I realized the answer is pretty clear, though it takes some code research and understanding of how the codes and standards work together to come to that conclusion. With that said, I’m going to try to break down the code requirements to their simplest form. My hope is that after reading this, you will be able to answer the question: “Is an arc flash risk assessment required for my facility?”

read more

Why Companies Have Not Done a Dust Hazard Analysis

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a revised Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program on January 27, 2023. Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosible. The purpose of the revised emphasis program is to continue OSHA inspections of facilities that generate or handle combustible dusts likely to cause fire, flash fire, deflagration and explosion hazards.

read more

Should You Lockout/Tagout Electrical Cords?

No matter how frequently the control of hazardous energy is featured on OSHA’s annual list of the Top 10 Most Cited Violations (#6 for 2022), lockout/tagout fails to receive the attention it deserves at many manufacturing facilities and remains a black eye for safety programs across the nation.  Because LOTO procedures take time, the process impacts production and ultimately undermines the bottom line.

read more

Developing Safety and Compliance Training Utilizing the Triple T Method

In today’s workplace, safety and compliance training is more important than ever. Having a comprehensive program in place is essential to protecting your employees and customers as well as your business. Safety training and compliance can help reduce workplace accidents and injuries, protect the environment and prevent legal liabilities. In order to accomplish this, EI recommends using the “Triple T” method when developing training: Tailored, Transparent and Timely. 

read more

Scaffolding Fatalities – A Preventable Loss

On Monday of this week, three people were killed, and two others injured after a scaffolding collapse at a construction site in Charlotte, North Carolina. All work at the site was halted after the victims fell approximately 70 feet when the scaffolding came apart. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is assisting with the investigation as to the cause of the collapse. A similar incident occurred in 2015 when three construction workers were killed when scaffolding collapsed as it was being dismantled at a high-rise construction site in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.

read more

The TOP 10 OSHA Violations of 2022

OSHA recently announced its Top 10 Violations for 2022, and the most popular violations from 2021 remain on the list. For the 12th year in a row, Fall Protection was #1 with HazCom, Ladders, Scaffolding, LOTO, PITs, PPE and Machine Guarding also representing safety standards that American industry continues to struggle to get right.  Respiratory protection violations, no doubt due to COVID-19, remained popular, landing at #3 on the list this year.  What does the consistency of the list suggest?  We know how to improve safety in America and too many companies refuse to commit the time and resources to making effective changes.

read more

National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Workplace Falls

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for workers, with over 600 workers dying annually and almost 50,000 injured each year due to falls from elevation.  All these deaths and injuries are preventable.

read more

Five Lockout/Tagout Issues that Challenge the Best Facilities

Given Lockout/Tagout’s established place on OSHA’s annual Top Ten Most Cited Violations list, it is not surprising that I spend a lot of time as an EHS consultant responding to clients’ questions regarding the control of hazardous energy.  Regardless of industry or perceived corporate success, the majority of facilities nationwide struggle to effectively address the hazards associated with servicing, maintenance and other activities that require employees to bypass safety devices and reach their hands into machines.  

read more

The Fundamentals of Confined Spaces

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has implemented stringent regulations when identifying confined spaces in the workplace.  Such standards are due to the number of fatalities associated with occupying these spaces.  

read more

Lessons Learned from a Health & Safety Career

This summer will mark 44 years I have been in the safety profession and as the end of my career quickly approaches, the question recently came up, “What lessons have been learned during a 43-year career in occupational safety and health?”

read more

It’s Simply the Rules: Part II

A roofer was inspecting along the edge of a roof three stories above the ground in preparation for replacing damaged shingles. His foot slipped and, having no fall protection, he fell to the concrete sidewalk below sustaining fatal head injuries. The ensuing OSHA investigation resulted in no citations because there had been no violation committed.

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It’s Simply the Rules: Part I

I was conducting a 3 year audit of a client’s injury and illness recordkeeping and ran across a very unusual case which had not recorded on the company’s OSHA 300 Log. Not sure myself, I called OSHA on behalf of the client to get a verbal interpretation. I was told the case should indeed be recorded on the Log.

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Norm Abram, Van Halen and the Importance of Reading the Manual

Being a long-time woodworker, I was always a big fan of Norm Abrams and his show, The New Yankee Workshop. One thing you could always count on was Norm, before powering up a table saw or any other shop equipment, would implore his viewers to “be sure to read, understand and follow the safety instructions that come with your power tools.” It doesn’t make any difference what the equipment is; forklift, aerial lift, scissor lift, hard hat, respirator, etc., manufacturers all advise potential users to read the instructions that accompanied the equipment.

read more