NIOSH Pocket Guide App Now Available

August 08, 2016

Since its first printing in 1978, the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards continues to be the most popular NIOSH document. This year, a new product—the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards Mobile Web Application—transforms the guide into an interactive mobile app, making its chemical data more accessible than ever and easier for the user to customize for a wide variety of tasks. The mobile app version answers a growing demand from NIOSH stakeholders to provide a NIOSH-sanctioned mobile product that accurately presents the Pocket Guide information. In May 2016, NIOSH introduced the mobile app version of the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition in Baltimore, Maryland.

The mobile Pocket Guide is customizable and easy to use. A few finger taps on a screen yields data on 677 chemicals and potential hazards. Users can tailor the guide to suit their individual needs and preferences. The Preferences function allows users to customize the app to show only the data fields pertinent to the work being performed. The Favorites function gives easy access to the most-needed chemicals, allowing users to mark them as favorites.

The NIOSH Pocket Guide gives descriptive information, recommended exposure limits, protective measures, and emergency recommendations for 677 chemicals commonly found in the work environment. Workers, employers, occupational health professionals, and first responders use the paper version of the NIOSH Pocket Guide to get information about workplace chemicals, for routine work and during emergencies. The Pocket Guide clearly presents key information on chemicals, such the physical description, the chemical and physical properties of each chemical, potential routes of exposure, and signs and symptoms of exposure. It also informs users on steps to take to prevent exposure to the chemical and emergency procedures to implement if someone becomes exposed to the chemical.

As the Internet and other communication technology make specialized information publically available, more people use mobile applications to access this information. Mobile applications help users by allowing them to personalize information and resources for use anywhere.

NIOSH saw the demand for a web app version of the Pocket Guide and developed new product technology to meet that demand. The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards Mobile Web Application is a sustainable product that works on virtually every modern mobile device, using the device’s web browser. Users can download the web app and use it offline, like familiar mobile apps that are made specifically for mobile device platforms such as Apple’s iOS or Android. The web app is like a mini-website, and it does not require expensive or time-consuming programming to work on different devices. This approach will allow NIOSH to develop similar products faster and they will cost less to develop, disseminate, and maintain.

The Pocket Guide format has evolved over the years as communication technology changed. The original printed NIOSH Pocket Guide was 191 pages—and at 4¼ inches by 8 inches, it neatly fits into the average pocket. The current book is 424 pages and measures 3 inches by 7 inches. Though the guide is available on the NIOSH website, the printed version remains highly popular and is in demand at conferences, meetings, and through the NIOSH-INFO public information service. Today, it is available in print, on CD-ROM, in electronic format on the NIOSH website, and now as a web app.

Download the free mobile NIOSH Pocket Guide app from the NIOSH website, where you will find instructions on how to install the app, as well as more information on the app’s features.

1-Bromopropane Listed as Carcinogen

On August 5, 2016, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added 1-bromopropane (CAS No. 106-94-5) to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 65.

The listing of 1-bromopropane was based on formal identification by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) that the chemical causes cancer. The criteria used by OEHHA for the listing of chemicals under the “authoritative bodies” mechanism can be found in Title 27, California Code of Regulations, section 25306.

Documentation supporting OEHHA’s determination that the criteria for administrative listing has been satisfied for 1-bromopropane was included in the “Notice of Intent to List 1-bromopropane” posted on OEHHA’s website and published in the July 10, 2015, issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2015, No. 28-Z). The publication of the notice initiated a public comment period that closed on August 10, 2015. OEHHA received one public comment on 1-bromopropane. The comment and OEHHA’s response were posted with the Notice of Intent to List.

A complete, updated chemical list is published in this issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register and is available on the OEHHA website at

DOT Rule to Improve Bus Testing, Safety, Reliability

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced a Final Rule that will improve the process for ensuring the safety and reliability of new transit buses funded with FTA dollars. The new rule will establish a set of minimum performance standards, a standardized scoring system, and a pass-fail threshold that will better inform local transit agencies as they evaluate and purchase buses for use in their communities.

“Throughout our nation, millions of Americans rely on transit buses every day, and they expect to ride in safe, reliable vehicles that meet or exceed federal requirements,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This rule will help local transit agencies put well-tested, high-quality vehicles on the road, while streamlining the testing process.”

The new bus testing rule will require newly procured buses to meet minimum thresholds in key areas such as safety, reliability, and performance. Existing procedures used by the FTA Bus Testing Facility will largely remain intact, but data generated will be used to apply a new 100-point scoring system to tested buses, making it easier to compare similarly sized bus models from different manufacturers.

Importantly, for the first time, bus models that fail to meet one or more minimum performance standards will “fail” their test and thus be ineligible for purchase with FTA funds until the failures are resolved. FTA will be able to use this authority to make sure defects are fixed before vehicles are allowed to go into service.

“FTA is proud to support communities seeking to improve their bus transit service—a lifeline for so many to access jobs and opportunities,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “Ensuring that unsafe buses never reach service protects those communities and bus passengers, and demonstrates FTA’s continued commitment to making safety its number one priority.”

The Final Rule follows the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that FTA issued in June 2015. FTA conducted extensive outreach to partners across the transit industry, including transit vehicle manufacturers, component suppliers, public transit agencies, and state departments of transportation. Comments and feedback from this outreach are reflected in the Final Rule.

Congress directed FTA to make updates to the Bus Testing Program in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Congress first authorized the Bus Testing Program in 1987 to ensure that federal funds—which can cover up to 80% of the cost of purchasing transit buses through various grant programs—are used effectively and efficiently.

Safety Culture Contributed to Sulfuric Acid Burns

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board released its final report into multiple sulfuric acid releases that occurred in 2014 at the Tesoro Refinery in Martinez, California. The report includes key process safety findings related to safety culture, safety indicators, and the continued need for a proactive regulator to conduct preventive inspections.

On February 12, 2014, an incident occurred at the Tesoro Refinery in Martinez, which burned two workers and released an estimated 84,000 lb of sulfuric acid. Less than a month later, on March 10, 2014, sulfuric acid sprayed and burned two contract workers during the removal of piping. Both incidents occurred in the refinery’s alkylation unit—where high-octane blending components are produced for gasoline.

Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “The CSB urges all refineries to review the key findings and conclusions of the board’s case study and to apply those learnings to their own facilities. It is imperative that companies continually work towards improving their operations in an effort to prevent future incidents and ensure the safety of their workforce.”

The CSB’s case study examines the Tesoro Martinez Refinery through the evaluation of previous incidents, worker statements, gaps in safety standards, deviations from established procedures and practices, and past efforts to assess and strengthen site safety culture.

The investigation found a number of safety culture concerns at the refinery, such as:

  • Characterization of the February 2014 incident as a minor injury while the incident should have been classified as the most serious type of process safety incident under industry guidelines
  • Exposure of alkylation unit workers to hazardous materials including vapors, acids, and corrosives
  • Removal of safer sulfuric acid sampling systems from service and reliance on inadequate temporary alkylation unit equipment
  • Failure to provide alkylation unit workers with necessary protective equipment
  • Existence of site-specific safety policies that were less protective than corporate policies and established industry good practice
  • Failure to develop an action plan to address concerns identified in a 2007 safety culture survey
  • Withdrawal from key national safety programs that workers believed were effective
  • Perceived pressure on alkylation unit workers to expedite training and reduce cost

Following recent CSB investigations into other accidents at petroleum refineries, the CSB recommended changes to strengthen refinery regulations in California and Washington.

The state of California has issued a draft refinery process safety management standard containing more rigorous safety regulations for the oversight of petroleum refineries, and the CSB is encouraged by these proactive changes to improve safety for workers and communities. The CSB’s case study underscores the need for the proposed refinery safety reforms as well as individual refineries to continually assess and improve their process safety programs.

The CSB’s case study emphasizes that regulators can use what are known as lagging process safety indicators, such as spills, fires, or gas releases, as well as leading indicators such as timely maintenance on safety critical equipment to focus inspections, audits, and timely closure of action items resulting from incident investigations to help drive process safety improvement.

“The continued recurrence of sulfuric acid incidents demonstrates the need for improvements at the Tesoro refinery. We recommend that the refinery report process safety indicators to the regulator, said Lead Investigator Dan Tillema. “Regulators should monitor these indicators and conduct preventive inspections that lead to corrective actions—this is a critical component of an effective safety program—the ultimate goal is to ensure that risk is continually reduced.”

Dust Explosion Kills One Injures Five

In the agricultural industry, excessive dust is a fuel that can cause serious and sometimes deadly explosions and fires, as was the case at a Georgia chicken feed mill where an explosion killed a 25-year-old man and injured five others in February 2016, federal workplace safety inspectors have found.

An investigation by OSHA has determined that JCG Farms in Rockmart, Georgia, violated safety standards that could have prevented the tragedy. Federal inspectors determined excessive accumulation of grain dust in the hammer mill area ignited and the explosion killed one worker and sent five others to area hospitals. The blast caused excessive damage to the building and closed the feed mill.

On July 22, OSHA issued citations to JCG Farms of Alabama, LLC, doing business as Koch Farms of Collinsville, A to J Electrical Services, and D. Sims, Inc., for 23 safety and health violations.

"It is tragic that despite wide industry awareness of these hazards, that some employers remain unaware of the common hazards of combustible dust," said Christi Griffin, OSHA's area director in the Atlanta-West Office. "This incident and this man's death were preventable. JCG Farms needs to take a proactive approach in their safety and health program to assess the workplace for hazards and correct them to ensure worker safety."

JCG feed mill's parent company is Koch Foods Inc., which employs approximately 14,000 workers nationwide. Koch Foods is a leading poultry producer with headquarters in Chicago. JCG Farms' feed mill is part of Koch Foods Eastern Region based in Collinsville, Alabama. JCG Farms contracts with A to J Electric and D. Sims to perform various work at the facility.

OSHA cited JCG for 15 serious and five other-than-serious safety and health violations.

The agency found JCG:

  • Exposed employees to fire and explosion hazards due to the build-up of combustible dust
  • Failed to post warning signs to inform workers of fire and explosion hazards
  • Exposed workers to being caught-in machinery
  • Failed to develop or implement an emergency action plan
  • Failed to train employees to recognize hazards such as fire, explosion associated with combustible dust
  • Did not implement a written housekeeping program to reduce the accumulation of grain dust
  • Exposed workers to electric shock hazards

The other violations involve not certifying forklift operator training, not issuing hot work permit for welding and grinding, failing to develop or maintain safety data sheets for feed mill products, failing to do noise monitoring and failing to provide respirator use information to employees.

JCG contracted the Atlanta-based A to J Electrical Services to perform electrical, mechanical and maintenance work at the facility. OSHA issued the company one serious violation for not informing workers of the fire and explosion hazards associated with their work.

The agency also issued citations to D. Sims Inc. of Cohutta, Georgia, for one serious and one other-than-serious violation for not training workers on common ignition sources for dust and failing to provide employees using disposable dust masks with information in Appendix D of the respirator standard. The contractor provides housekeeping purposes at the facility.

Material Handling Systems/MHS Technical Services Employee Suffers Fatal Fall

Four months after federal safety investigators cited his employer for failing to provide workers with fall protection at a United Parcel Service facility in Addison, Illinois, a 42-year-old employee of Material Handling Systems/MHS Technical Services, fell 22 feet to his death at the same site.

On July 29, 2016, OSHA cited the employer for three egregious willful violations for exposing workers to falls over 6 feet, after its investigation of the February 9, 2016, fatality. OSHA also cited three repeated and three serious safety violations.

"A man is dead because this employer decided to break the law over and over again. Before this tragedy, OSHA cited this contractor twice for exposing workers to fall hazards, including at the same site just four months earlier," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor of Occupational Safety and Health. "OSHA is asking companies contracting with Material Handling Systems to take strong steps to ensure that this employer protects its employees, and terminate its contracts if this employer continues to violate OSHA regulations. Material Handling Systems employer must demonstrate it can work safely and stop injuring its employees."

OSHA also found Material Handling Systems/MHS Technical:

  • Exposed other workers to falls of up to 22 feet as they hoisted conveyor equipment while working on raised surfaces with unprotected sides. Failed to determine whether walking and working surfaces could structurally support employees
  • Allowed workers to use a combustible polyethylene tarp as a welding curtain, which created a serious fire hazard

OSHA cited Material Handling Systems most recently for fall protection violations in October 2015 at the same jobsite. In 2014, OSHA cited the company for similar violations after an employee suffered serious injuries in a fall in Keasby, New Jersey. The employer also received fall protection citations in 2009 in Oregon and 2012 in Florida. The company's workers' compensation carrier is Old Republic Insurance Company of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Material Handling Systems/MHS Technical Services removes and installs high-speed conveyor systems. In this case, the company was working under a multi-million contract with United Parcel Service to dismantle existing conveyor systems and install new, high-speed conveyors at UPS's Addison facility.

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Material Handling Systems/MHS Technical Services faces total proposed penalties of $320,400.

Preventable falls account for nearly 40% of all deaths in the construction industry. Federal safety and health officials are determined to reduce the number of preventable, fall-related deaths in the construction industry. OSHA offers a Stop Falls online resource with detailed information in English and Spanish on fall protection standards. The page provides fact sheets, posters, and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures. OSHA standards require that an effective form of fall protection be in use when workers perform construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.

OSHA's ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. Begun in 2012, the campaign provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for workers and train employees to use fall protection equipment properly.

Maintenance Technician Crushed Fatally

A 57-year-old maintenance worker was crushed fatally by a 4,000 pound machine part while performing maintenance inside of a sand core machine at a Warrensburg aluminum foundry.

An investigation by OSHA found his employer, Stahl Specialty Company, did not use lockout devices and other machine safety procedures to prevent unintentional movement of the part—known as a ram—while the worker was inside the machine. OSHA cited the company for one repeated and five serious safety violations on July 29, after the agency completed its investigation into the February 15, 2016, death.

"An employee who had been with the company 40 years lost his life because his employer failed to follow safety procedures to prevent machine parts from moving during maintenance," said Todd Sieleman, OSHA's acting area director in Kansas City. "Foundries have inherent dangers and employers like Stahl Specialty need to review their safety procedures to protect workers on the job."

While investigating the fatality OSHA found Stahl Specialty Company:

  • Failed to isolate all sources of energy in or to the equipment
  • Did not protect employees from unexpected machine movements during maintenance
  • Lacked machine-specific lockout procedures
  • Failed to adequately train workers on proper lockout procedures
  • Failed to coordinate lockout procedures with an outside contractor
  • Did not correct illegible markings on a crane pendant control box

Proposed penalties total $105,000.

GD Copper USA’s Fall, Electric Shock, and Unguarded Equipment Hazards Led to $196,900 Fine

OSHA issued citations to GD Copper USA, Inc., for two willful, one repeat, nine serious, and two other-than-serious safety violations.

The agency issued willful citations for exposing employees to slip, trip, and fall hazards and allowing employees to work on equipment without following proper safety procedures to protect them from hazardous stored energy. One repeat violation relates to failing to provide training on hazardous energy sources and the methods available to secure the energy prior to performing maintenance on equipment.

The serious violations relate to:

  • Exposing employees to unguarded machine parts and equipment
  • Putting workers in danger of falls due to missing safety rails
  • Failing to evaluate a permit required confined space prior to workers entering
  • Not conducting annual audits of the energy control procedures
  • Exposing workers to electric shock hazards

The other violations involve not ensuring employees were trained in first aid and failing to provide training on an emergency action plan and fire extinguishers.

Proposed penalties total $196,900.

"Our inspection has identified numerous serious safety hazards that put employees at risk of injury or death," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "GD Copper must be more proactive in identifying these hazards and taking action to correct them. Employers should not wait for an OSHA inspection or an incident to occur before they assess their workplace to ensure workers at protected."

Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC Fined $115,000 for Exposing Workers to Flammable Gas

On August 1, 2016, OSHA issued citations to Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC, of West Deptford, New Jersey, for three repeat and eight serious safety violations.

As part of the agency's national emphasis program for chemical facilities, OSHA inspected the company on February 6, 2016, and found multiple violations of federal process safety management regulations, including not developing set written procedures for maintaining process equipment, which resulted in repeat violations.

In addition, OSHA issued citations for serious violations for the following:

  • Having incomplete process safety information for equipment in the process
  • Failing to review operating procedures to comply with current operating practice
  • Failing to inspect and test process equipment
  • Failing to follow established procedures to manage changes to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and/or facilities
  • Failing to respond properly to a compliance audit

"Our inspectors focused on vinylidene fluoride, a liquefied flammable gas manufactured and used at Solvay Specialty Polymers' chemical facility. This gas poses serious safety and health risks to this company's employees, including fire and explosion hazards, frostbite, skin and lung irritation, and liver damage associated with chronic exposures. An effective process safety management program is needed to protect workers and prevent the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Marlton Area Office.

Proposed penalties total $115,000.

La Espiga de Oro Inc. Fined for Exposing Workers to Amputation, Fall, and Extreme Heat Hazards

OSHA in Houston initiated an investigation on June 20, 2016, at the Houston Heights location of La Espiga de Oro, after the agency received a complaint of unsafe working conditions at the tortilla maker. Its inspection resulted in 25 serious violations for exposing workers to struck-by and caught-in hazards and failing to protect workers from dangerous machinery. Inspectors also found workers exposed to extreme heat, electrical hazards including exposed energized electrical parts, and fall hazards as they loaded dough into machines used to make tortillas.

Proposed penalties total $106,700.

"A worker exposed to machines without proper guards can lose a finger, a limb or their life," said Steve DeVine, OSHA's assistant area director in the Houston North office. "Employers like La Espiga de Oro are responsible for recognizing and fixing hazards in the workplace. With more than two dozen serious violations, it's clear this company needs to take its employees' safety far more seriously."

KWS Manufacturing Company Fined $49,500 for Repeat, Serious Violations

OSHA began an inspection at KWS Manufacturing Company Ltd. facility in Burleson, Texas, February 8, 2016. The inspection of the company, which designs and manufactures conveying equipment for the bulk material handling industry, was a follow up on health hazards found in a May 2014 fatality investigation. It also was undertaken in response to a complaint about employee safety and health concerns. The health investigation found two repeat violations including failing to provide medical evaluations and fit testing for employees wearing tight-fitting respirators while spraying paint. Inspectors found similar violations in May 2014. During the health inspection, agency investigators determined a follow-up safety inspection was necessary.

In its subsequent March 3, 2016, safety investigation, the agency identified one repeat and two serious violations. The agency issued the repeat citation for failing to provide guards on the helicoid roll mill. Inspectors found similar violations in 2014. OSHA found two serious violations and issued citations because a hook attached to a hoist did not have a safety latch and eight lathes did not have machine guards at the point of operation.

Proposed penalties total $49,500.

"KWS Manufacturing continues to demonstrate a lax attitude towards worker safety even after a 2014 fatality," said Jack A. Rector, OSHA's Area Director in Fort Worth. "OSHA will not tolerate these hazardous conditions. This employer needs to act now to correct these deficiencies before someone is hurt or worse."

Worker’s Fingers Crushed Due to Lack of Machine Guarding at Meyer Steel Drum Inc.

OSHA has issued eight serious safety violations to Meyer Steel Drum, Inc. An April 2016 OSHA inspection found a worker had three fingers crushed when his right hand became caught in a pinch point as he operated a metal coiler at the Chicago facility in December 2015.

OSHA inspection found after the incident took place, the employer made an attempt to guard the machine; however, the company failed to adjust the guards properly to eliminate the hazard.

The agency cited Meyer Steel Drum for failing to:

  • Adequately guard machines' operating parts
  • Use locking devices and other procedures to prevent unintentional equipment start-up or movement during service and maintenance, a process known as lock-out/tag out
  • Train forklift operators
  • Remove damaged forklifts from service
  • Train workers about hazardous energy

"OSHA has specific guidelines to protect workers from dangerous machinery in the workplace," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. "While machine guarding remains among the most frequently cited agency standards, Meyer Steel Drum failed to protect its workers properly. Yet another worker has joined the thousands injured each year in an incident that was preventable. Employers must protect workers from operating machinery at its facilities."

Proposed penalties total $46,800.

Safety News Links

Hitting the Highway? Keep Safety in Mind

NHTSA Kicks-Off Safe Cars Save Lives Bus Tour August 9-13

NIOSH Releases New Engineering Controls Database

How After-Hours Email Expectations Affect Employee Well-Being

Toddlers at High Risk of Chemical Eye Burns

Worker Killed After Falling from Truck, Crushed by Wood Chipper

Construction Worker Killed After Trench Collapses

Minnesota Dairy Farm Worker Killed in Job Accident

Worker Injured by Toppled 20-Ton Concrete Slab

Second Worker Dies from Accident at Wichita Falls Treatment Plant

Worker Dies After Falling Down Elevator Shaft in Downtown Seattle Building

Worker Killed in Accident in Kentucky