Worker dies in a flash fire. Employer failed to provide Flame Resistant Clothing

Ringgold, PA – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited natural gas producer and operator J.R. Resources with eight health and safety violations at its Ringgold gas well site. OSHA began the August 2012 inspection after a worker, who was not provided or required to wear flame-resistant clothing, died from injuries sustained during a flash fire.

Of the seven serious violations cited some include failing to require and provide flame-resistant clothing be worn when working around natural gas; failure to provide fall protection from stairs on brine tanks; failure to provide safety training and a written hazard communication program/plan; and failing to properly label tanks and prevent workers from riding in the bucket of a backhoe. The employer was also cited for utilizing an electric pump in the presence of flammable materials.

A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

One other violation that was cited was for failing to report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours, as required by law.

“Employers are responsible for ensuring a safe working environment, and that includes finding and fixing hazards associated with the workplace,” said Theresa A. Naim, director of the OSHA Erie Area Office. “OSHA will continue to hold employers responsible when they fail to protect their workers.”

Proposed penalties total $22,400.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Fire resistant clothing now required near Wyoming oil and gas wells

The state of Wyoming now requires all workers within 75 feet of an oil or natural gas well bore must be wearing fire resistant clothing. The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday it is implementing the new rule, first approved by the governor-appointed Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission in October.

The commission also mandated that shutoff devices on diesel engines are to be used on all drilling rigs. These new decisions were lauded by the state’s oil and gas industry.

“As an industry, we were pleased to help work on those rules and we’re pleased to see them being implemented,” said John Robitaille, vice president of the Wyoming Petroleum Association. “We hope they do what they’re intended to do and save people from getting hurt in the jobs that they do.”

The state’s rule making mandatory use of fire resistant clothing near wells was not well received by all. Smaller companies complained that the fire resistant clothing was too expensive to make mandatory. Some complained that the clothing would only protect workers from flash fires.

Yet, may larger companies have required safety clothing for their employees before it became mandatory.

PG&E employee died while working in an underground electrical vault in California.

A 26 year old PG&E employee died while working in an underground electrical vault in California. After a lengthy investigation by Cal/OSHA it was found that 9 critical violations were in play. Some of the violations included a legally required on site safety briefing which had not been done, supervisors failed to check that the power to the vault was off or on, the employee was left alone in the work area which is in direct violation of workers who, when they are in a high risk area, must be under observation, and he had been allowed to get too close to an energized area along with the fact he was not wearing the proper safety clothing; insulated gloves.  After this accident, two more PG&E workers were electrocuted on the job. One of these two tragedies included a worker who separated crossed wires and was not wearing the proper safety rubber gloves.

PG&E officials now say that the deaths have caused them to revamp electrical worker’s training.

NEW OSHA standards coming in March 2013. Is your company ready? Or at risk?

OSHA is about to make major changes in it’s regulations for electrical utility construction and to the general electrical industry. OSHA has not made these kinds of major changes since it was established in 1994. These new OSHA standards will require that companies implement new & updated electrical safety training which will bring them current with the new law implemented this March. Read Hugh Hoagland’s article from the February issue of ISHN Magazine on the importance of implementing NFPA 70E and NESC arc flash training changes.

No More Heavy, Bulky FR Garments! Polartec FR Fabrics Are Safe, Warm and Comfortable

For the past 50 years, flame resistant (FR) garments have been heavy, bulky and very little if any breathability. These fabrics also can degrade over time in their flame protection capabilities. Polartec®, the world’s leading fabric technology company, launched a total layering system of flame resistant (FR) fabrics. These fabrics are specifically designed to work together to keep you safe and comfortable in a wide range of conditions. Polartec FR fabrics are now available!

Polartec has worked for over 10 years with the U.S. Military to create new fabrics for soldiers.  The technology they developed for high performance flame resistant clothing is now available to consumers who work in the industry that requires safety applications. These fabrics offer leading protection against arc flash and flash fire hazards. The fabrics are designed for high performance as a stand-alone garment or as part of a layering system. Polartec FR fabrics are now available in collections from Macron Safety.

  • Polartec® Power Dry® FR fabrics are odor resistant and provide all-day next-to-skin comfort through a patented knit construction that dramatically improves comfort by transporting moisture away from the skin and pulling it to the outer surface where it can dry quickly.
  • Polartec® Power Stretch® FR is a unique hybrid fabric suitable as a cold weather base layer or as an only layer that offers wind and abrasion resistance, four-way stretch for freedom of movement, and moisture management and breathability to keep you warm and dry.
  • Polartec® Thermal® FR fabrics feature a durable velour construction that offers superior warmth without weight and outstanding breathability to regulate body temperature, making for a versatile and comfortable mid layer or outer layer.
  • Polartec® Wind Pro® FR fabrics are four times more wind resistant than traditional fleece and offer exceptional breathability and a high warmth-to-weight ratio in a unique, lightweight package that sheds rain and snow.
  • Polartec® Power Shield® FR is a new product category for FR apparel – a patented, flame resistant version of the Polartec soft shell fabric that reinvented technical outerwear by offering a unique combination of water resistance, thermal insulation and breathability for active comfort.

Polartec FR fabrics are inherently flame resistant, tested in both in-house and independent state-of-the-art laboratories, and pass relevant industry certifications.

Helping Provide the Latest in Arc Flash Protection to Russian Electrical Workers

A documentary film has been produced that chronicles a Russian worker who survived a direct encounter with an arc-flash event in 2011. The documentary follows Andrey and his fellow workers, as well as his wife, as they expose the dangers that electrical workers encounter and how arc flash protective clothing saved his life.

This documentary details the science behind DuPont™ Nomex® and exactly how it is designed to save lives. The Director General of Energocontract, Alexander Bolshunov, talks about the reasons his company believes that DuPont™ Nomex® was one of the key ingredients in the design and production of their protective clothing since 2002.

At the end of the documentary, it is explained by a representative of the Ministry of Energy how Russia continues to keep worker safety as a top priority in their electrical industry.

Caution buying your PPE Clothing Outside the U.S.

DuPont, a science company, recently received a favorable, albeit still provisional decision against a group of textile manufacturers doing business and operating in the European Union and India, and distributing products to the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere in the GCC, for infringing its trademark rights by distributing Nomex® branded garments that did not actually contain genuine Nomex® fibers.

Counterfeited products in the Middle East continue to be a problem, not only causing economic damage but also posing serious risks to lives and property. Dubai alone seized millions of dollars worth of fake goods in 2011, involving more than 500 cases.

There are strong concerns over the influx of fake personal protective equipment (PPE); false PPE clothing could mean the difference between life and death to anyone wearing what they think is PPE clothing and are in fact wearing a fake.

Regions in the Middle East have been uncovering the sale of counterfeit items such as gloves, high-visibility vests and heat-resistant clothing which can be hard to detect by the untrained eye.

All employers, manufacturers and distributors have a responsibility to keep workforces safe at work and in order to stay vigilant, certified goods are are the only way to insure safety and will even mean the difference between life and death.

According to DuPont, “The DuPont Nomex® label represents how we affirm our status as a provider of quality protective products while empowering reputable suppliers to do the same and provide genuine, legal goods to the workforce”.

Such initiatives raise the profile of safety in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully cause the end of counterfeit products.

DuPont is internationally renowned for the development of its high-quality, intelligent flame resistant fiber, Nomex®. Incorporated into fabric for use by fire fighters and industrial workers all over the world, Nomex® labeled garments are produced according to the highest standards using DuPont-approved fabrics and have become an integral part of keeping people protected at work.

Nomex® can withstand exposure to extreme heat for over eight seconds and does not melt or drip even at high temperatures. It is also highly resistant to UV rays and abrasion and is soft to the touch. Fabrics made of Nomex® are extremely easy to care for and maintain their appearance even after many washes.

Certified Nomex® fabrics are visible to the end-user through the distinctive Nomex® label, which DuPont actively encourages end users to look out for to ensure compliance, performance and quality of products that will save lives.

Be sure you are getting the real thing and purchase your PPE clothing and tools from a proven reputable supplier such as Macron Safety (www.macronsafety.com) and do not gamble the lives of your workers on products that are not certified, tested, and proven from an unknown supplier.

SCG&E Arc Flash Event

An Arc Flash is a catastrophic event when in the presence of an unprotected human body. In the following photographs you can see the damage that was absorbed by the 40 Cal/cm2 Arc Flash Suit and Hood a worker was wearing while working on a 1200 Amp Breaker. The protective suit and hood saved his life.

Even though the suit and hood received massive damage and melting; it is designed to withstand the heat and to not add further trauma to the victim by continuing to burn and melt into the human skin. Which is exactly what happens when “street clothing” is exposed to an Arc Flash event. This worker spent one week in a hospital; but would surely have received fatal injuries if he was not wearing protective clothing during this particular Arc Flash Event.

You will also notice the severe burns and damage to the surrounding areas of the workers environment.

Read the article SCG&E Arc Flash Event (PDF)

 

Worker burned in arc flash event; company fined $110,000

The Ontario Ministry of Labour announced that electricity distributor Waterloo North Hydro Inc. was fined $110,000  by Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to an incident in which a worker was badly burned due to an arc flash.

“Workers from Waterloo North Hydro Inc. had installed transformers on site and were attempting to send power from a transformer in one location to a transformer in another location,” the ministry stated in a press release Wednesday. “As power was sent to the second transformer, a worker for an electrical contractor was in the area routing a metal tape through a duct. The tape came into contact with a newly energized electrical conductor and caused an arc flash. The worker was badly burned.”

The utility pleaded guilty in an Ontario Court of Justice to failing to establish and implement an adequate job plan prior to installing and energizing the transformers.

“A job plan would have identified all known hazards and implemented controls for each hazard to protect workers from injury,” the Ministry of Labour stated.

The fine was imposed Monday by Justice of the Peace Ruth Legate Exon. The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge to be credited to a government fund intended to help victims of crime.

Utility Lineman Electrocuted

July 17, 2012 – Shakopee, Minnesota

A utility worker was electrocuted on Monday while working from the bucket (aka: cherry picker) of a service truck and three other workers on the ground received serious shocks.

While working from the bucket of a utility truck on a 12,000 volt overhead power line, the worker was struck by an arc flash..  While still in the bucket, the injured man who had received 3 degree burns had to be brought down by the ground crew and was rushed to a nearby hospital..

The other three workers were working on the same line in another nearby location,were also injured and treated at the hospital. At this time, two men remain hospitalized but their conditions have not been released.

OSHA  strongly recommends  Arc Flash protective clothing in order to  minimize  the  injuries sustained in the event of an arc flash.  Arc flash temperatures can reach as high as 20,000 degrees Celsius/36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. A workers clothing can be melted into his skin; while Arc Flash protective clothing is designed to negate the effects of an Arc Flash event.

Unfortunately the worker in the bucket had not worn any Arc Flash protective clothing and it was reported that a witness heard him repeatedly say,

“I should have put it on. Why didn’t I put it on?”

OHSA is leveling large fines towards companies that do not make it mandatory for their employees to wear and use protective clothing and gear.

The cause of this event is under investigation.

Friends have set up a fund to help their families pay for medical expenses.