State Rule Will Help First Responders Prepare for Crude Oil Shipments

August 29, 2016

Washingtonians were made a little safer when the state adopted a rule requiring facilities that receive crude oil by rail to notify the Washington Department of Ecology in advance. The rule also requires pipelines transporting crude oil in the state to submit information about volumes and place of origin twice a year.

The rule allows Ecology to share crude oil movement information with emergency response agencies through an advance notification system. In addition, Ecology will publish aggregated public disclosure reports quarterly, summarizing details about oil movement in Washington state. The newly adopted rule goes into effect October 1, 2016, and the first quarterly report will be published in January 2017.

“In the wake of recent oil train disasters, Washington is moving quickly to improve public safety and protect our natural resources,” said Governor Inslee. “This rule will assure that our emergency responders get advanced notice before oil train shipments arrive in their communities.”

The rule applies to four facilities in Washington that currently receive crude oil shipments by rail, and to two pipelines that transport crude oil in the state. New facilities and pipelines also will be subject to the rule.

Previously, no state reporting standards existed. A 2014 emergency order by the U.S. Department of Transportation required railroad carriers transporting Bakken crude oil in single trains, and in volumes greater than one million gallons, to provide information to state emergency response commissions regarding the estimated volumes and frequencies of such trains.

Ecology held four public meetings on the new rule during its 65-day public comment period. More than 1,000 comments were received, reviewed and factored into the rule development.

More information about this and other rules Ecology is drafting to help protect the environment is available online.

Homebuilder, Florida Contractor Fined $107,000 for Exposing Workers to Dangerous Falls

OSHA issued citations to D.R. Horton, Inc., and Garcia Carpentry, LLC, on August 15, 2016. Inspectors with OSHA observed employees installing roofing sheathing without fall protection, and cited the companies with five safety violations. This inspection is part of the agency's Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction.

D.R. Horton was issued one repeated citation for failing to ensure subcontractor employees were protected with a fall protection system when working from heights up to 25 feet. Garcia Carpentry was issued a repeated citation for the same violation and an additional repeated for allowing workers to use the top step of a ladder to access and exit the roofing trusses.

OSHA also cited Garcia with two serious violations for employees not wearing hard hats and for operating powered nail guns without eye protection.

Proposed penalties total $107,785.

"Both D.R. Horton and Garcia Carpentry recognize the hazards associated with working at heights more than 6 feet, yet failed to provide employees with the training, protection and tools required to safeguard them from the construction industry's leading cause of death—unprotected falls," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville. "Four in 10 industry fatalities result from preventable falls. The consequences of not being prepared and complacent can lead to disaster. Employers must be diligent and demand safe work practices on all job sites."

Cal/OSHA Cited Kittyhawk Inc. After Preventable Accident Asphyxiates Worker

Cal/OSHA has cited Kittyhawk, Inc., $73,105 for serious safety violations following a March 13, 2016, confined space accident in which a worker was asphyxiated. Cal/OSHA investigators found the Garden Grove-based metal processing company failed to comply with confined space regulations that resulted in the serious illness.

On March 13, a Kittyhawk supervisor sent an untrained production assistant into a pressure vessel furnace to perform maintenance on it. The assistant did not have an oxygen sensor with him when he descended into the unit, which is only 49 inches wide and 98 inches tall, and was filled with argon gas. Argon is a noble gas that is chemically inert under most conditions and is colorless, odorless, and much heavier than air.

When the worker was overcome by the argon gas and collapsed inside the unit, a second worker went in after him and became dizzy and lost consciousness. A third employee then took a nearby fan and blew fresh air into the confined space, which provided air to breathe. The first worker spent four days in a hospital receiving treatment for his illness, and the second employee was transported to the hospital and was treated and released.

“Confined spaces can be deceptively dangerous,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must take special precautions to evaluate and monitor the hazards and prepare for emergency rescues.”

Cal/OSHA cited Kittyhawk, Inc., for nine safety violations including three serious, three serious accident-related and three general in nature. These violations involved Kittyhawk’s failure to identify permit-required confined spaces, train the employees to safely perform their work in these confined spaces, failure to monitor the atmospheric conditions in a confined space during maintenance, and failure to develop effective rescue and emergency procedures for rescuing endangered employees from confined spaces.

Cal/OSHA first adopted confined space regulations in 1978 in order to prevent fatalities and serious injuries. California defines a permit-required confined space as one that has limited entry and exit openings, is not designed for continuous worker occupancy and has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Has a hazardous or potentially hazardous atmosphere including too little or too much oxygen, and/or presence of toxic gases
  • Has a material that can engulf an employee, such as grain, sand, or sugar
  • Has an internal layout (such as floors that slope downwards) that can trap or asphyxiate a worker
  • Has any other serious safety or health hazard, such as machinery with moving parts, sources of electrical shocks, burning, or drowning hazards

More information on confined spaces is available on the Cal/OSHA website, including information for employers who would like free assistance developing a plan to minimize the occurrence of confined-space accidents.

A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazardous condition. More information about the types of citations and penalties that they carry can be found in the User’s Guide to Cal/OSHA.

OSHA Urges Louisiana Flood Recovery Workers, Volunteers to be Vigilant, Aware of Hazards During Cleanup

Louisiana residents—emergency workers, employers and the public—recovering from the impact of the recent floods should be aware of the hazards they may encounter and take necessary steps to stay safe, OSHA urges.

"Recovery work should not put you in the hospital emergency room," said Benjamin Ross, OSHA's Acting regional administrator in Dallas. "A range of safety and health hazards exist following flooding. You may minimize these dangers with knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment. OSHA wants to make certain that all working men and women, including volunteers, return home at the end of the workday."

Cleanup work after the flooding may involve hazards related to restoring electricity, communications, and water and sewer services. Other hazards pertain to demolition activities; debris cleanup and removal; and structural, roadway and bridge repair; hazardous waste operations; and emergency response activities. OSHA maintains a comprehensive website to keep disaster site workers safe during storm cleanup and recovery operations.

In addition to teams at the affected areas, OSHA has many resources on detailing how to stay safe in preparation of a flood and subsequent cleanup.

Only workers provided with the proper training, equipment and experience should conduct cleanup activities.

During cleanup, consider the following protective measures:

  • Evaluate the work area for hazards
  • Employ engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards
  • Use personal protective equipment
  • Assume all power lines are live
  • Use portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles, and other equipment properly
  • Heed safety precautions for traffic work zones

Individuals involved in recovery efforts may call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or its Baton Rouge Area Office at 225-298-5458. Residents can also contact the Louisiana On-site Consultation Program who can provide on-site assistance.

OSHA National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Schedules Final Meeting of the Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee

OSHA’s National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health will hold a meeting of the Emergency Response and Preparedness Subcommittee on September 7–9, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

The subcommittee will finalize their discussion of potential elements of an emergency response and preparedness proposed rule, and prepare a recommendation to NACOSH.

The meeting will be held 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m., in Room N-4437 at the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20210. The meetings are open to the public. Individuals who would like to attend, submit comments, make an oral presentation, or need special accommodations to attend, should contact Bill Hamilton at, 202-693-2077 (phone), or 202-693-1663 (fax), by September 1, 2016.

NACOSH was established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to advise and make recommendations to the secretaries of labor, and health and human services on occupational safety and health programs, and policies and matters relating to the administration of the OSH Act.

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