Imagine being in a panic while trying to find your way out of a smoke-filled building and coming across this sign.Read More
Most people know that using an extension cord as permanent wiring in a workplace isn’t only illegal, it’s also dangerous.Read More
Editor’s Note: Share this safety talk with your workers.
What’s At Stake
Improper storage or neglect of a storage area can result in a fire or explosion that may cost lives or serious injuries and r
educe your job to ashes.Read More
Have you ever considered what you would do if you suddenly saw or smelled a fire in your office? Many workers seem to have an “it will never happen here” attitude about fires. But fire is not very selective about where it starts or what it burns.
Tragic fires can happen in large office towers as well as small businesses. By being aware of fire safety you can help prevent fires. Know the company’s safety guidelines and then review the following suggestions to help protect yourself and your co-workers:
In case of fire:
- Notify others: Are the emergency numbers posted in a visible location next to the telephone? Do you know how to describe your exact location to the fire department? Where is the nearest fire alarm? Do you know how to activate it?
- Follow the emergency plan: What is our company’s emergency plan? Where would everyone meet so your supervisor can be sure you are safely out? Who is responsible for assisting a disabled co-worker? Do you have any other duties such as closing windows and doors or checking employee washrooms?
- Find your exits: Which fire exits would you use? Can you find two fire exits— right now— from the room that you are in? Always plan two escape routes, so if one becomes blocked by fire you have an alternative exit.
- Use the stairs. Do you know that you should never use an elevator when the fire alarm sounds? Elevators can jam between floors or accidentally drop to the floor that the fire is on. When the doors open, you could be subjected to flames, hot gases and toxic smoke.
- Fight or flight: Do you know how to use a fire extinguisher? Some small fires, about the size of a wastepaper basket, can be successfully fought with a portable fire extinguisher. But if you are not sure what you are doing with the extinguisher or if the fire is spreading, get out!
While we are discussing what to do in case of a fire, we should also consider what can be done to prevent a fire:
- Look for trouble: Check frequently for worn and frayed electrical cords on your computer, printer, paper shredder, lamp and other electrical equipment. Cords which are routed across traffic areas are often damaged.
- Practice good housekeeping habits: Keep your work area clean, tidy and free from waste paper. Place all trash in proper containers. Make sure the area around electrical heaters and radiators is clear. Flammable liquids such as cleaning solvents, paints or thinners should be correctly stored in a well-ventilated area. They should be kept covered to prevent spills and the escape of flammable vapors.
- Use caution when smoking: Smoke only in designated areas, not in storage rooms and stairwells. Ensure that all your smoking materials are properly extinguished and safely placed in metal containers used only for that purpose.
- Keep the exits clear: Always make sure your emergency exits, traffic aisles, stairwells and doorways are clear of clutter. Never use them for extra storage. Keep the fire doors closed as directed.
A fire can easily start in a storage room, a trash basket or a box of old files. Practice smart fire habits.Read More
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing $16.6 million in fines against three construction companies and 14 subcontractors in connection with a Feb. 7, 2010 natural gas explosion that killed six workers and injured 50 others at a Kleen Energy Systems LLC plant under construction in Middletown, CT.
A gas blow operation was being performed when the blast occurred. It involves pumping flammable natural gas under high pressure through new fuel gas lines to remove debris. During the operation a large amount of natural gas was vented into areas where it could not easily disperse.
OSHA says welding and other work being performed nearby created an extremely dangerous situation. The explosion occurred when the gas contacted an ignition source.
General contractor O&G Industries Inc., along with Keystone Construction and Maintenance Inc., the company in charge of the piping and gas blow and Bluewater Energy Services Inc., the commissioning and startup contractor for the plant, were all cited for performing the procedure in a manner that exposed workers to fire and explosion hazards.
Those hazards included the configuration of vent pipes in close proximity to scaffolding and other structures, along with failure to remove non-essential personnel from the area.
Citations were also issued for failure to install and use electrical equipment in accordance with its listing and labeling, allowing welding work during the gas blows and failure to train workers to recognize hazards associated with gas blows.
O&G was cited for 119 willful, 17 serious and three other-than-serious violations carrying proposed penalties of $8,347,000. Keystone Construction and Maintenance was issued 94 willful, 16 serious and one other-than-serious citations carrying $6,686,000 in proposed fines, while Bluewater Energy Services was issued 12 willful citations and eight serious citations carrying $896,000 in proposed penalties.
Also cited for additional serious violations were 14 subcontractors. Collectively they face proposed fines totaling $686,000.Read More
OSHA says it has reached an agreement with BP Products North America Inc. which will see the company pay $50.6 million in penalties in connection with a March 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others at BP’s Texas City, TX, refinery.
Additionally, BP has agreed to take steps to protect those now working at the refinery and has set a minimum of $500 million aside toward that effort.
In September 2005 BP was fined $21 million and ordered to identify and correct deficiencies that led to the fatal blast, which was blamed on the overfilling of a piece of equipment with flammable liquid hydrocarbons. Alarms and gauges that should have alerted workers to the overfilling were not functioning properly at the time.
A follow-up OSHA investigation undertaken in 2009 found that while BP had made several safety-related changes since the disaster, it had not addressed some key issues identified in the original investigation.
As a result, the company was cited for failure to abate hazards and issued $50.6 million in fines. BP must immediately start performing safety reviews of refinery equipment according to set schedules and implement permanent corrections.
It also must hire independent experts to monitor its efforts, meet regularly with OSHA, undergo frequent site inspections and submit quarterly reports for OSHA’s review. Finally, BP has agreed to establish a liaison between its North American and London, UK, boards of directors and OSHA, which will also OSHA to raise compliance concerns at the highest level.
BP has also been issued 439 new willful citations carrying more than $30 million in penalties. Those matters are currently in litigation before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.Read More
October is fire safety month. While much of the emphasis of this annual safety observance hinges on family members being trained and drilled on how to escape a home fire, knowing what to do in the event of a workplace fire is equally important.
Were you aware that about three percent of workplace fatalities are related to fire and explosions?
Share the following workplace fire safety information with your workers .
Do Your Workers Know What to Do Should a Fire Occur?
Are your workers ready to deal with a possible workplace fire? Make sure your safety training answers these questions:
An Australian worker has been fined $4,400 after pleading guilty to failing to take reasonable care to protect himself and others on the job.
James Lawless used a cigarette lighter in breach of a non-smoking policy in the workplace. He was apparently unaware of the presence of flammable vapors in the area.
The flame ignited paint vapors, injuring two workers.Read More
The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has agreed to conduct an investigation into the causes of the BP/Transocean rig explosion that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.
“The CSB intends to proceed with an investigation of the root causes of the accidental chemical release that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig and took the lives of 11 workers,” wrote CSB Chair and CEO John Bresland in a letter to Henry Waxman, chair of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Bart Stupak, chair of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
“All of us share your hope that every possible lesson will be learned from this accident so that nothing similar ever occurs again,” wrote Bresland.Read More
A training exercise held by volunteer firefighters in Alberta went horribly wrong when a home they had deliberately set fire to suddenly exploded, for unknown reasons.
Thirteen firefighters were injured in the explosion, which flattened an abandoned farm house near Edgerton, AB, 200 kilometers southeast of Edmonton. Some of the firefighters who were only a few meters away from the house when it blew up, were knocked unconscious and one firefighter suffered two broken legs and a broken shoulder blade.
The volunteer firefighters had used the home for training practices on at least four prior occasions. This time, they had set fire to the main floor of the structure to observe how quickly flames would spread.
A few minutes later, the house blew up, leaving only its foundation intact. Most of the injuries occurred when the firefighters were struck by flying debris. The explosion scattered materials as far as 305 meters (1,000 feet) in all directions.
Although the cause of the explosion is under investigation by Alberta Occupational Health and Safety and the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, along with Wainwright Fire Chief Steve Douglas, there are theories that methane gas or natural gas in the ground near the home may have ignited.
The firefighters had ensured that gas, electrical and other services to the house were shut off before setting it on fire.Read More