CSB Issues New Safety Alert Focused on the Potential Hazards of Emergency Discharges from Pressure Release Valves

Original article published by CSB
safety alert

Photo property of CSB

Washington, D.C. March 6, 2023 – Today, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) issued a new Safety Alert titled “Hazards Posed by Discharges from Emergency Pressure-Relief Systems.” The CSB’s alert highlights hazards identified with emergency pressure-relief systems from four CSB investigations.  The alert advises facilities that while a discharge from emergency pressure-relief systems can help protect equipment from unexpected and undesired high-pressure events, it can also seriously harm or fatally injure workers and cause extensive damage to a facility if the discharge is not made to a safe location.

CSB Chairperson Steve Owens said, “All four of the incidents highlighted in the CSB’s safety alert underscore the importance of thoroughly evaluating emergency pressure-relief systems to ensure they discharge to a safe location where they will not harm people.”

The four incidents highlighted in the CSB’s safety alert resulted in 19 deaths and 207 injuries. They include:

  • On May 19, 2018, an ethylene release ignited, injuring 23 workers at the Kuraray America, Inc. ethylene and vinyl alcohol copolymer plant in Pasadena, Texas. The CSB’s animation of this event shows how this incident occurred during the startup of a chemical reactor system following a turnaround. High-pressure conditions developed inside the reactor and activated the reactor’s emergency pressure relief system, discharging flammable ethylene vapor horizontally into the ambient air in an area where a number of contractors were working.
  • On November 15, 2014, approximately 24,000 pounds of highly toxic methyl mercaptan were released from an insecticide production unit at the E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) chemical manufacturing facility in La Porte, Texas. The release fatally injured three operators and a shift supervisor inside a manufacturing building. During the early phases of the investigation, CSB investigators identified a number of worker safety issues—separate from the release scenario— including that several emergency pressure-relief systems at the facility were designed to discharge hazardous materials in a way that posed a risk to workers and the public.
  • On May 4, 2009, highly flammable vapor released from a waste recycling process, ignited, and violently exploded at Veolia ES Technical Solutions, LLC, in West Carrollton, Ohio. The incident injured four employees, two seriously.  Following the initial explosion, multiple other explosions occurred that t significantly damaged every structure on the site. Residences and businesses in the surrounding community also sustained considerable damage. The CSB concluded that uncontrolled venting from emergency pressure-relief valves to the atmosphere allowed tetrahydrofuran (THF) vapors to accumulate to explosive concentrations outside process equipment, and the vapors subsequently found an ignition source.

HazCom standard update coming before year’s end? Spring 2022 regulatory agenda released

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication


Photo: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Washington — An update to OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard could happen as soon as December, according to the Department of Labor’s Spring 2022 regulatory agenda.

Published June 21, the agenda – issued by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs twice a year – provides the status of and projected dates for all potential regulations listed in three stages: pre-rule, proposed rule and final rule.

In this latest regulatory agenda, the HazCom standard update was moved from the proposed rule stage to the final rule stage.

OSHA’s current Hazard Communication standard (1910.1200) is linked with the third edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, also known as GHS. In February 2021, OSHA issued a proposed rule to update the regulations to align with GHS’ seventh edition.

Also listed in the final rule stage is a permanent COVID-19 standard for the health care industry. That’s expected to appear sometime in the fall, OSHA administrator Doug Parker and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh indicated in separate Congressional hearings in the past four weeks.

OSHA’s Infectious Diseases standard, meanwhile, is listed in the proposed rule stage, with a notice of proposed rulemaking slated for May at the earliest.

OSHA’s Emergency Response standard moved from the prerule to the proposed rule stage, and a notice of proposed rulemaking is not expected to appear until at least May as well. That regulation will attempt to “address the full range of hazards or concerns currently facing emergency responders, and other workers providing skilled support,” and provide performance specifications for protective clothing and equipment.

Meanwhile, the agency is reopening the rulemaking record on clarifying parts of its Walking-Working Surfaces standard. The agency planned to correct a formatting error in Table D-2 of that regulation and “revise the language of the requirements for stair rail systems to make them clearer and reflect OSHA’s original intent.”

The regulation was in the final rule stage in the Fall 2021 regulatory agenda, released Dec. 10, but is now back to the proposed rule stage.

OSHA’s attempt to revise Table 1 of its silica standard for construction was moved from the proposed rule stage to the list of long-term actions. That means the agency isn’t expected to perform any work on that standard for at least six months.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration had one change from the Fall 2021 regulatory agenda: A final rule requiring written safety programs for mobile equipment and powered haulage at surface mines or “surface areas of underground mines” could appear in October.

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.

Hazardous substance exposure on the job: UN expert presents 15 principles to end risk

Photo: matejmo/iStockphoto

Geneva — United Nations Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak is urging governments and businesses around the world to adopt a series of principles intended to protect workers who are exposed to hazardous substances and provide solutions for violations of their rights.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council on Sept. 9, Tuncak presented the 15 principles from his recent report, Principles on Human Rights and the Protection of Workers from Exposure to Toxic Substances. Read more