NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, Added to NFPA's Free Online Collection

September 25, 2003

Four more consensus codes and standards have been added to NFPA's (National Fire Protection Association) collection of codes, standards and reference materials posted for free review as a public service.

 Adopted in 34 states, NFPA 30 is the basis for OSHA rules.

 The code is adopted in 33 states. Both NFPA 30 and NFPA 30A are part of the Comprehensive Consensus Codes set (C3), which is the first set of construction-related codes developed through processes accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The code establishes requirements for providing fire protection and fire safety to a wide range of cultural institutions including libraries, museums and places of worship.

The code includes the unique requirements necessary for renovation and restoration when preservation of historic character is desired.

"The conservation of society's structural treasures is important culturally and historically," says NFPA President James M. Shannon. "By placing NFPA 909 and NFPA 914 online, we are able to provide free public access to two consensus documents designed to help do just that. Additionally, free review of NFPA 30 and NFPA 30A makes it possible for essential safety information to be accessible to everyone who deals with or dispenses flammable and combustible liquids."


NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing ad advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

Practices for Mine Dust Control are Described in Comprehensive NIOSH Handbook

A new, comprehensive handbook on dust control in mines, based on 30 years of research findings and experience, is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The guidance reflects scientific consensus on the best practices for overcoming the complex challenges of controlling coal dust, silica dust, and other forms of dust in mines that cause coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, silicosis, and other serious and potentially fatal lung diseases in miners.

The first chapter deals solely with dust control methods, irrespective of the application. It serves as a brief tutorial on mining dust control, and helps the reader whose dust control problem does not conveniently fit any of the mining equipment niches described in subsequent chapters.

In the subsequent chapters, dust control methods are described for specific mines and mining equipment:

  • underground coal
  • hard rock mines
  • surface mines
  • stone mines
  • hard rock tunnels

Because dust sampling presents many challenges, a chapter on methods used to sample dust is included. For those occasions when no practical means exist to reduce dust at the source using only engineering controls, a chapter on respirators is provided.

A copy of the handbook (NIOSH publication No. 2003-147) may be obtained by calling 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674).

Worker's Death at Manufacturer Leads to $63,000 in Fines for Crushing, Noise, Silica, and More

The death of a worker at a Holbrook, Mass., concrete products manufacturer may have been prevented if stacks of pallets containing concrete blocks had been properly stacked, reports OSHA.

Oldcastle APG N.E., Inc., doing business as Foster-Southeastern, faces $63,000 in fines for 19 alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following the March 14 death of an employee who was crushed by a falling stack of pallets loaded with concrete blocks. In addition to the improper stacking of the pallets, the company was cited for failing to adequately safeguard workers against excess noise levels, overexposure to crystalline silica and other safety and health hazards.

"OSHA's inspection found that the pallets holding the concrete were overloaded and stacked five deep," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "Other hazards found included employees working in the plant's tumbling area who were overexposed to crystalline silica and noise. Effective safeguards designed to minimize those hazards were not in place."

According to OSHA's citations, the company allegedly failed to develop a noise-monitoring program, establish a training program, provide baseline audiograms, provide suitable hearing protectors and enforce the use of hearing protection by employees who were overexposed to noise. The action level is 85 decibels over an eight-hour workday.

Oldcastle also allegedly failed to implement effective engineering controls and to take other required measures to protect workers exposed to airborne concentrations of silica in excess of the permissible exposure limit. Crystalline silica, a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other materials, is a human lung carcinogen, and breathing silica dust can cause silicosis, a potentially disabling or fatal disease.

Other hazards found during the inspection included inadequate machine guarding, electrical hazards, missing stairrail and guardrail, lack of an emergency eyewash station and the use of a damaged wire rope sling.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. The company has contested the citations and fines before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

CSB Releases Data on 167 Serious Reactive Incidents

The CSB released detailed information on the 167 serious chemical incidents analyzed in the agency’s landmark 2002 study on reactive hazards, marking the first anniversary of the Board’s vote for broad new initiatives to control the dangers from uncontrolled chemical reactions.

The incidents covered are fires, explosions, toxic gas releases or other events where uncontrolled chemical reactions resulted in deaths, injuries, or damage, or had the potential to do so. All the incidents occurred in the U.S. between 1980 and 2001; together they were responsible for 108 deaths and numerous injuries. Following completion of the reactive study in September 2002, agency staff went back and reviewed information on each incident to ensure that it met criteria for public release.

The data released include the location, date, and impact of each incident, as well as the names of the companies and chemicals involved, where known. Information on reported causes is also included. 

“While complete information remains elusive, the database released today makes one point very starkly: reactive incidents occur frequently in the U.S. and cause terrible damage,” said CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt. “We need further actions – both regulatory and voluntary – to better control reactive hazards and save lives by preventing future incidents.”

Merritt noted that since the Board issued its new safety recommendations last year, reactive incidents have continued to occur. “Over the next several months, the Board will be completing investigations on six more reactive incidents that occurred recently in Ohio, New York, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. These incidents had the potential to cause multiple deaths and injuries, yet none of the chemical processes involved was regulated under current process safety rules. New regulations aren’t the solution to every safety problem, but in this case there has been a glaring hole since the day the rules were first issued. Federal regulators should act now to close this gap.”

Convening September 17, 2002, in Houston, Texas, the five-member Board unanimously approved a total of 18 safety recommendations intended to reduce the number and severity of reactive incidents. The Houston meeting, which included poignant testimony from victims of past incidents, culminated a two-year special CSB investigation into hazards at U.S. sites that manufacture, store, or use potentially reactive chemicals.

Among the 18 recommendations, the Board called on OSHA and the EPA to extend their process safety regulations -- known as the Process Safety Management standard and the Risk Management Program rule -- to better control hazards associated with chemical reactivity.

CSB Investigators Find Lack of Hazard Recognition, Unsafe Handling of Flammable Liquids Caused Fire

Last January’s deadly fire at an oilfield waste disposal facility south of Houston could have been avoided if the companies involved had safer procedures for handling flammable wastes, investigators from the CSB reported.

The January 13 accident in Rosharon, Texas, occurred as two tank trucks unloaded waste liquids into an open collection pit at the BLSR Operating Ltd. disposal facility. Unknown to either the drivers or BLSR personnel, the waste material was highly volatile, and a flammable vapor cloud formed in the unloading area. Vapor was drawn into the air intakes of trucks’ running diesel engines -- causing them to race and backfire – and the flammable cloud ignited. Two BLSR employees standing near the trucks were killed in the fire, and three others suffered serious burns. The two drivers, who were employed by T&L Environmental Services Inc., were also burned after rushing back to their trucks when they heard the engines accelerate. One of the drivers died several weeks later from his injuries.

Board Chairman Carolyn Merritt said, “This accident, which took three lives and caused devastating burns to survivors, could have been prevented if the hazard of the waste had been recognized, communicated, and controlled. Oil and gas field wastes can be highly flammable and need to be handled appropriately. It’s my hope that our findings and recommendations will be widely reviewed by similar operations, helping save lives in the future.”

CSB lead investigator John Vorderbrueggen pointed to two root causes that led to the tragedy. First, the producer of the waste, Noble Energy, did not recognize its potential flammability nor did it provide appropriate safety information to either T&L or BLSR. This liquid waste, referred to as basic sediment and water, or BS&W, settles to the bottom of storage tanks that contain either crude oil or the liquid hydrocarbons that condense from natural gas (gas condensate). BS&W is commonly sent to deep-well injection sites for disposal. But the material can contain significant quantities of flammable hydrocarbons. When tested, most samples of BS&W obtained by Board investigators were found to be highly flammable, including material from the Noble Energy storage tanks involved in the incident.

“Material safety data sheets -- documents that describe materials and hazards in detail -- should have been prepared by the waste producer and provided to the truck drivers and the disposal facility operators,” Mr. Vorderbrueggen said. “Equipped with that information, each party can understand and manage the hazard.” The Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are required for hazardous substances under OSHA regulations.

The second root cause of the accident was that BLSR management did not have safe unloading and handling practices for potentially flammable BS&W wastes. Not recognizing the hazards of the material, the company did not control potential ignition sources or use unloading techniques designed to minimize vapor formation.

Among the contributing causes cited in the report: T&L management did not require oilfield waste generators to provide its truck drivers with MSDSs indicating material hazards. Neither T&L nor BLSR followed relevant safe operating practices recommended by the American Petroleum Institute (API), a prominent industry trade organization.

Vorderbrueggen said that the safety recommendations contained in the report, if widely implemented, will help prevent future accidents involving oilfield wastes. The report called on the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oilfield operations in the state, to require all drillers and producers to comply with federal regulations on communicating hazards to workers and safely transporting hazardous liquids. Another recommendation requested that OSHA and the U.S. Department of Transportation each issue a special bulletin on the flammability hazards of oilfield wastes. The report also made a variety of individual recommendations to Noble Energy, BLSR, and T&L concerning safe practices and procedures for flammable waste handling.

CSB Investigators Cite Lack of Effective Management Systems in Hydrogen Sulfide Incident at Waste Disposal Plant

A release of potentially deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) at the Environmental Enterprises Inc. (EEI) waste treatment facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, resulted from treating chemical wastes in an inappropriate vessel, according to investigators from U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

CSB lead investigator Angela Blair stated, “Management systems are the key to preventing this kind of incident,” noting that a combination of problems contributed to the event. The incident, which occurred December 11, 2002, caused a maintenance worker to collapse after he walked near the waste vessel and inhaled toxic hydrogen sulfide, which carries a signature rotten egg odor. Inhaling the gas can cause accumulation of fluid in the lungs and respiratory arrest. The victim, who was initially unable to breathe, was treated at a local hospital and released.

“Environmental Enterprises had not adequately trained its employees on the hazards of hydrogen sulfide,” according to CSB investigator Johnnie Banks. “Therefore the employees did not recognize the rotten egg odor as a sign of imminent danger.”

EEI treats water-based hazardous waste containing various contaminants, including heavy metals, for disposal. CSB investigators said the hydrogen sulfide release occurred after an operator added solid sodium sulfide to a batch of waste in an effort to remove mercury. Later the same operator added an acidic chemical (polyaluminum chloride) to adjust the pH of the waste.

Unknown to the operator, excess sodium sulfide reacted with the acidic chemical to form hydrogen sulfide gas, which was released from the open-top clarifier vessel where the treatment was attempted. Later the maintenance worker entered the treatment area, which was then unattended, to retrieve a tool when he was overcome by the gas. The clarifier was not designed to handle the possibility of toxic gas formation and had no equipment to collect and treat such gases.

“This is the second serious incident we have investigated recently where the reaction of a sulfide salt with acid produced a dangerous gas release,” according to CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt. In November 2002 the Board completed its investigation of an incident at an Alabama paper mill where two workers were killed and eight others injured when a similar reaction in a process sewer caused a release of hydrogen sulfide gas. “Clearly there is a strong need for greater awareness of the hazards of reactive sulfides,” Merritt said.

The CSB investigators found the EEI incident could have been avoided if workers had been trained on hydrogen sulfide hazards, had been given appropriate written procedures for performing treatment operations, or had been informed about the requirements of an earlier city order to abate hydrogen sulfide hazards at the plant. A hydrogen sulfide warning device, installed under provisions of the city order, was not working at the time of the December 11 incident.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. CSB investigations look into all aspects of such events, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems. Typically, the investigations involve extensive witness interviews, examination of physical evidence, and chemical and forensic testing.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.