Chemical Safety Board to chemical facilities: Remember cold-weather best practices

Original article published by Safety+Health

winterization.jpg

Photo: CSB

Washington — Alarmed by a recent surge of events involving the incidental release of chemicals during cold weather, the Chemical Safety Board is reminding facility operators of process safety management best practices for wintertime operations.

Freezing and expansion of water can crack or break pipes, damage equipment, or lead to instrumentation failure. Additionally, cold temperatures can trigger the formation of a hydrate, a chemical combination of water and a compound that may expand or block process piping.

CSB recommendations for winterization include:

  • Effectively identify and address the risk of freeze-related hazards to piping and process equipment through process hazard analyses, management of change evaluations, pre-startup safety reviews and operating procedures.
  • Create and implement a winterization checklist to ensure plant and process systems are ready for cold weather.
  • Establish a formal, written freeze protection program.
  • Survey piping systems for dead-legs (sections that have no flow) and ensure they’re properly isolated, removed or winterized.
  • Systematically review process units, including infrequently used piping and equipment, to identify and mitigate freezing hazards.

CSB data shows that 36 incidents related to the agency’s accidental release reporting rule were recorded during the first three months of fiscal year 2023, including eight during a Christmas holiday weekend that saw record-low temperatures across much of the nation.

The agency notes that 30 combined reportable events – incidental chemical releases resulting in a fatality, a serious injury and/or significant property damage – were observed during the first quarter of FY 2021 and FY 2022.

“Companies need to heighten their focus on safe operations and recognize that taking important precautionary actions, like winterization, can help prevent major chemical accidents,” CSB Chair Steve Owens said in a press release.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Frostbite: Do’s and don’ts

Original article published by Safety+Health

Did you know? “Even skin that is protected can be subject to frostbite,” the National Safety Council says. Signs of frostbite include skin that looks red, white, bluish-white, grayish-yellow, purplish, brown or ashen, depending on the severity of the condition and the person’s skin color. The affected area may feel numb as well. The condition can affect the fingers, toes, ears and face.

If caught early, it is possible to prevent permanent damage, according to NSC. If not, frostbite can cause tissue death and lead to amputation.

Follow these do’s and don’ts if you or a co-worker is experiencing frostbite:

DO:

  • Seek medical care immediately.
  • If medical care will be delayed and there’s no danger of the skin refreezing, go into a warm room and immerse the affected area in lukewarm water (99-104° F) for 20-30 minutes only.
  • Remove wet clothing and constricting items, and protect between fingers and toes with dry gauze.
  • Warm the extremities with your own body heat. For example, hold frostbitten fingers under your arm.
  • Protect and elevate the affected area.

DON’T:

  • Rub the frostbitten area with snow.
  • Massage the frostbitten area or walk on frostbitten toes.
  • Use a heating pad, heat lamp, hot water or other high-temperature heat sources to warm the skin.
  • Use chemical warmers directly on frostbitten tissue.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Winter Safety Checklist for Mines

Original article published by U.S Department of Labor

A light snowfall blankets surface equipment at a mine, including silos and a conveyor system.

Photo: U.S Department of Labor

At the Mine Safety and Health Administration, we are urging miners and mine operators to stay alert during winter months when cold temperatures increase safety hazards. Are these best practices being followed at your mine site?

For surface mines:

✔️ Clear snow and ice from roads and walkways

✔️ Apply sand or salt to walkways to improve traction

✔️ Wear footgear that grips

✔️ Check for slip and trip hazards

✔️ Maintain equipment to operate safely in cold weather

✔️ Drive slowly and keep space between vehicles

✔️ Examine equipment for exhaust leaks

✔️ Always wear your seatbelt

✔️ Check the integrity of highwalls, benches and roadways, especially after each rain, freeze or thaw

 

In addition to the list above, coal mines should:

✔️ Properly support roof and be aware of changing roof conditions

✔️ Properly ventilate the mine

✔️ Keep clean all combustible materials in mine

✔️ Apply liberal amounts of rock dust

✔️ Conduct frequent examinations

 

Help keep yourself and other miners safe by printing a winter safety checklist poster for your workplace or using our winter alert graphics in email messages and on social media and websites, available at msha.gov/winter-safety.

For tips on keeping workers safe from cold stress and related hazards, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s winter weather webpage.

Many mining injuries and fatalities could be prevented with proper training and attention to tasks. Review best practices for common hazards at msha.gov/take-time-save-lives, and report accidents and hazardous conditions at 1-800-746-1553 or AskMSHA@dol.gov.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Protect against the cold: Tips for employers and workers

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

A thorough workplace safety and health plan should include steps to protect workers from cold-related hazards. This is particularly important for workers in the services, transportation, construction and agriculture industries.

“Exposure to cold can be an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation,” says NIOSH, which offers recommendations for both employers and workers.

Employers should:

  • Train supervisors and workers to prevent, recognize and treat cold-related illnesses and injuries. This training should be presented in a language all workers understand.
  • Reduce the amount of time workers spend in a cold environment. Rotate workers in and out on long, demanding jobs.
  • Provide access to warm areas, and encourage workers to take breaks in those areas. Also, set up a place for workers to change out of wet clothes.
  • Initiate a buddy system for workers to help monitor them in cold conditions.
  • Keep a first aid kit stocked, and make sure to include a medical and environmental thermometer as well as chemical heat packs.
  • Provide appropriate cold-weather gear such as hats, gloves and boots for work in cold environments. Don’t forget wind-protective clothing based on air velocities.
  • Give prompt medical attention to workers who show signs of cold-related illness or injury.

Workers can help by:

  • Taking regular breaks to warm up.
  • Monitoring your physical condition and that of co-workers.
  • Staying hydrated.
  • Snacking on high-carbohydrate foods.
  • Avoiding touching cold metal or wet surfaces with bare skin.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

SAFETY FIRST! – Working in the cold

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
cold.jpg

Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Lost-time injuries and illnesses resulting from “environmental cold” spiked nearly 142% in 2018 – soaring to 290 cases from 120 the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Those cases, plus the 280 reported in 2019, are a likely indicator of a lack of employer and worker understanding about the dangers of cold stress.

What are the dangers?

Along with air temperature, wind and moisture can create issues for employees working in the cold. Water, including sweat, can displace body heat 25 times faster than dry air, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.

Likewise, wind can blow away the body’s protective external layer of heat. This is why wind chill is an important factor to understand. So, for example, when the temperature is 25° F and the wind is blowing 25 mph, the wind chill is 9° F, resulting in more dangerous conditions.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists used air temperature and wind speed to develop three thresholds of cold stress hazards:
Little danger: Freezing of exposed skin within one hour
Danger: Freezing of exposed skin within one minute
Extreme danger: Freezing of exposed skin within 30 seconds

With no wind, the temperature can drop to -20° F and still pose little danger to workers. But if the wind speed reaches 20 mph or more, then the danger threshold moves up to 10° F.

ACGIH also developed a work/warm-up schedule for four-hour shifts (available on OSHA’s website at osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather). On this sliding scale, no noticeable wind and an air temperature between -25° and -29° F translates to a maximum work period of 75 minutes. However, if the wind reaches 20 mph or more and the temperature is between -15° and -19° F, the maximum work period is 40 minutes. At -25° F or colder and with a wind speed at the same 20 mph or greater, ACGIH recommends that all non-emergency work stop.

Martin Tirado, CEO of the Snow and Ice Management Association, said a good rule of thumb is a 15-minute break for every hour of work. When the temperature dips below zero, workers should have shorter work periods with a break that’s equal in length (i.e., work for five minutes and warm up for five minutes). Continue reading»


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.