OSHA recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to extend the employer’s responsibility to ensure crane operator competency and enforcement for crane operator certification to November 10, 2018.
OSHA issued a final rule in September 2014, extending the deadline by three years for crane operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard. The final rule also extended by three years the employer’s responsibility to ensure that crane operators are competent to operate a crane safely.
The agency is now proposing an extension of the enforcement date to address stakeholder concerns over the operator certification requirements in the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.
Comments may submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov/, the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details and additional information about this proposed rule. Comments must be submitted by September 29, 2017.
Oil and Chemical Facilities Urged to Take Special Safety Precautions During Startups Following Hurricane Harvey
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) recently issued a Safety Alert urging oil and chemical facilities to take special precautions when restarting in the wake of shutdowns due to Hurricane Harvey.
The startup of major processes at chemical facilities is a hazardous phase and facilities should pay particular attention to process safety requirements during this critical period to assure a safe and expeditious return to normal operations.
“Restarting a refinery poses a significant safety risk, said Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. “When operators follow established startup procedures and checklists, it reduces the risk to a catastrophic accident that could cost lives and incur substantial product disruptions.”
Restarting a complex petrochemical process requires a higher level of attention and care than normal processing, because numerous activities are occurring simultaneously and many automatic systems are run under manual control. Because a significant number of facilities were shut down during Hurricane Harvey, there will be a significant number of facilities restarting, which will increase the risk to safety.
The Safety Alert outlines specific procedures to assure safe restarts under the headings, “Rely on Established Safety Systems” and “Check Process Equipment Thoroughly.” For example, facilities are urged to follow established startup procedures and checklists, and to recognize that “human performance may be compromised due to crisis conditions.”
Additional safety protocols require checking bulk storage tanks for evidence of floating displacement or damage, and to examine insulation systems, sewers, drains, furnace systems, electric motors, and other equipment, including warning systems, to make sure they are fully functional.
The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the SenateCSB investigations examine all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure or inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to companies, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.
For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202.446.8094.
Hazard Identification Materials for Consideration of the Developmental Toxicity of Chlorpyrifos
On November 29, 2017, at a public meeting in Sacramento, chlorpyrifos will be considered for listing under Proposition 65 by the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC), a committee of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) Science Advisory Board and the state’s qualified experts regarding findings of reproductive toxicity for purposes of Proposition 65. The DARTIC will deliberate on whether or not chlorpyrifos has been “clearly shown by scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles to cause developmental toxicity.” This document describes the materials provided to the committee.
The DARTIC considered chlorpyrifos in 2008 but did not add it to the Proposition 65 list at that time. Substantial new, relevant data on developmental toxicity have become available since the chemical was previously considered for listing.
Hazard Identification Materials on the Developmental Toxicity of Chlorpyrifos
The following materials are being provided to the DARTIC in electronic form:
- The complete September 2008 OEHHA hazard identification document (HID), “Evidence on the Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity of Chlorpyrifos”
- Excerpted sections of that document relevant to developmental toxicity
- Additional materials provided by OEHHA to the DARTIC that became available at about the same time as the HID
- Copies of studies relating to the developmental toxicity of chlorpyrifos that were cited in the 2008 HID
- Public comments submitted to the DARTIC in 2008 regarding possible listing of chlorpyrifos, including any additional materials provided that are relevant to developmental toxicity
- The U.S. EPA reports, “Chlorpyrifos: Revised Human Health Risk Assessment for Registration Review (2014)” and “Chlorpyrifos: Revised Human Health Risk Assessment for Registration Review (2016)”. These reports, particularly the 2014 report, extensively review recent scientific literature on chlorpyrifos and developmental toxicity.
- Excerpted sections of these U.S. EPA reports relevant to developmental toxicity
- Copies of studies relating to the developmental toxicity of chlorpyrifos that were cited in these U.S. EPA reports
- Copies of additional studies of the developmental toxicity of chlorpyrifos that were not reviewed in the materials provided to the DARTIC in 2008 or in the 2014 and 2016 U.S. EPA reports
Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC Exposed Workers to Hot Work Hazards
Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC (BEE), a privately held limited liability company headquartered in Houston, Texas, was sentenced on eight felony violations of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and one misdemeanor count of violating the Clean Water Act before the Honorable U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The charges stemmed from events causing an explosion in November 2012 on an offshore oil production platform that resulted in the deaths of three workers and injuries to several others. This case is also related to the recent conviction of Wood Group PSN in the Western District of Louisiana for their role in operations on the platform.
In accordance with a plea agreement, the Court ordered BEE to pay a $4.2 million monetary penalty. However, due to BEE’s bankruptcy, the $4.2 million agreed monetary penalty will be a general unsecured claim against BEE’s bankruptcy estate entitled to a pro rata distribution from the trust with other allowed unsecured claims against BEE. On August 11, 2015, four of BEE’s creditors filed an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy case against BEE in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. The case converted to a voluntary Chapter 11 case shortly thereafter. Under a Chapter 11 plan of liquidation confirmed on July 13, 2016, BEE’s assets were transferred into two trusts, and a trustee will administer distributions to creditors from funds in one of the trusts.
According to the court documents, beginning on November 3, 2012, after pipeline repairs, BEE undertook platform repairs to include replacing equipment and installing a divert valve on the platform’s Lease Automatic Custody Transfer (LACT) unit and tying it into the sump line piping. The LACT system was the last point in the production process prior to the oil leaving West Delta 32 and entering the sales transmission pipeline.
Some of the construction projects on West Delta 32 required “hot work,” or welding, grinding, and/or any other activity that may produce a spark. Hot work on an oil production facility is a hazardous activity capable of causing injury or death. Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires that written permission, commonly referred to as a “hot work permit,” be issued by the welding supervisor or designated person in charge (PIC) before any hot work on a production platform begin. At a maximum, a hot work permit is valid for 12 hours. Once a hot work permit expires, all the precautionary steps should be complete before a new hot work permit is issued.
Starting on or about November 8, 2012, Christopher Srubar, a co-defendant and Wood Group PSN employee and West Delta 32 PIC, issued hot work permits for the construction work related to the West Delta 32 projects. However, Srubar stopped issuing hot work permits and conducting all-hands safety meetings and instead delegated the permitting to the Wood Group PSN “C” operator. Neither Srubar nor the “C” operator conducted a daily pre-work inspection with the construction crew, staffed by Grand Isle Shipyards (GIS), nor did they designate a fire watch for the hot work areas.
On or about November 15, 2012, hot work commenced on the LACT unit with the knowledge of co-defendants Don Moss and Curtis Dantin. Moss and Dantin did not ask Srubar if he completed a safety check of the area. In addition, they did not complete a pre-work inspection or issue a warning to the GIS crews to step welding on the sump line piping. Instead, Dantin instructed some of the crew to begin the welding of the sump line piping for the LACT unit upgrade. The single hot work permit the “C” operator issued for November 16 did not state that the LACT unit or sump line piping as areas that were safe for hot work.
Workers started to make cuts to the sump line piping leading to the Wet Oil Tank, causing liquid to spill from the piping. At approximately 9:00 a.m., hydrocarbon vapors that escaped from the Wet Oil Tank ignited, causing a series of explosions in the three oil tanks on the platform. The fire and explosions resulted in the deaths of GIS employees Avelino Tajonera, Elroy Corporal, and Jerome Malagapo. Other workers were seriously burned and physically injured.
BEE admitted that its employees and agents were negligent in the manner in which they planned and executed the hot work on West Delta 32 platform, and that the acts of their agents and employees violated the regulations in 30 C.F.R. § 250.113 promulgated under the OCSLA.
Co-defendant GIS faces manslaughter charges, and Dantin, Srubar, and Moss face criminal violations of the Clean Water Act in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The OCSLA charges against GIS, Moss, Srubar, and Dantin, were dismissed by the district court and are pending an interlocutory appeal by the government to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, argued on May 1, 2017.
The U.S. Department of the Interior-Office of Inspector General and the U.S. EPA-CID conducted the investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emily Greenfield and Nicholas Moses, and Senior Trial Attorney Kenneth Nelson of the Environment and Natural Resources Division prosecuted the case.
Monsanto Facility Recognized for Workplace Safety and Health Programs
The Indiana Department of Labor awarded Monsanto in Windfall, Indiana, recertification as a STAR participant in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Participation in this elite state program represents commitment to Hoosier workers and proactive workplace safety and health practices.
“With Indiana’s long, proud history of successful agriculture, it’s exciting to have companies take the safety and health of their agriculture employees very seriously,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. “We are pleased to recertify Monsanto for going above and beyond in preventing occupational injuries.”
Monsanto is a global agriculture company that develops products and tools for farmers around the world.
Windfall’s Monsanto location first opened as Mitchell Seeds in 1937 as a seed corn facility, although none of the original structures still stand. After many construction projects and transitioning owners, Monsanto purchased the facility in 1998. Monsanto Windfall is responsible for conditioning and packaging soybean seed and distributes product from Indiana to the East Coast.
For at least the previous three years, the Monsanto facility has only one recorded injury. The site’s Total Case Incidence Rate (TCIR) is 86% below the national industry average and the Days Away/Restricted/Transferred Case Incidence (DART) rate is 78% below the industry average.
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