The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

International Code Council Launches New Fire Code

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 06, 2014

Following the death's of six workers at the Kleen Energy Power Generation Facility in Middletown (Connecticut, USA), the International Code Council (ICC) has revised the International Fire Code (IFC) and International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) to prohibit the unsafe practice of "gas blows"; in which flammable gas is blown under high-pressure down newly-constructed or repaired piping in an effort to clean and remove debris from the pipes prior to start-up.

The process of "gas-blowing" is inherently unsafe.

At the Kleen Energy facility, the high pressure gas blow was used to clean pipes prior to the start up of generator turbines; but the gas found an ignition source; and the six workers were killed in the subsequent huge explosion.

Alternative non-flammable gases are safe to use in "gas blowing" scenario's, including compressed air, so there is no need to use flammable gases.

Over 40 Countries, including the USA subscribe to the ICC codes.

USA Workplace Fatalities in 2011

Graham Marshall - Saturday, May 18, 2013
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,693 workers died on the job in the USA during 2011, three more than in 2010. 

The fatal injury rate for 2011, the most recent year with complete data, was 3.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. 

That is down slightly from 2010.

According to the BLS, 1,937 workers died in transportation incidents; 710 through “contact with objects and equipment”; 681 from “slips, trips and falls”; and 419 from “exposure to harmful substances or environments.” 

There were also 468 workplace homicide victims that year, according to the BLS. 

On average, 13 workers a day are killed on the job in the United States and many more are injured. 

This year, for the first time, the BLS fatality report has a separate category for contract workers, who may not be afforded the same protections as regular employees. 

Five hundred forty-two died in 2011, the bureau found, accounting for 12 percent of all fatal injuries.

Texas had the highest number of contractor deaths – 56 – followed by Florida (51) and California (42). 

Looking through the BLS data, you see some really simple, easily preventable causes of death: people falling off roofs, people dying in trench cave-ins, people falling off ladders, people dying in confined spaces. 

It seems that the public in the USA just sort of accepts that as a risk of going to work.

OSHA Permit Controlled Confined Spaces

Graham Marshall - Monday, July 09, 2012

One of our readers from Bakersfield in California recently sent me this link to the OSHA guidance covering permit-required confined space entry in the USA.  It may be useful reading for our American visitors.

Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered to be “confined” because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter into, work in or exit from them.

In many instances, employees who work in confined spaces also face increased risk of exposure to serious physical injury from hazards such as entrapment, engulfment and hazardous atmospheric conditions.

Confinement itself may pose entrapment hazards and work in confined spaces may keep employees closer to hazards such as machinery components than they would be otherwise.

For example, confinement, limited access and restricted airflow can result in hazardous conditions that would not normally arise in an open workplace.

The terms “permit-required confined space” and “permit space” refer to spaces that meet OSHA’s definition of a “confined space” and contain health or safety hazards.

For this reason, OSHA requires workers to have a permit to enter these spaces.  Read the guideline to find out more information on OSHA's requirements for confined space entry in the USA.

CSE SR 100 Self-contained Self-rescuer Phase-out

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Users of the CSE SR-100 self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) are on notice by NIOSH in the USA of a schedule for phasing out use of the device in mining and non-mining applications.

This action follows the April 16, 2012, publication of the NIOSH Technical Report, Loss of Start-Up Oxygen in CSE SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuers.

Continued use as a respirator in non-mining applications is contingent upon phase-out of the CSE SR-100s and replacement of these respirators by a different NIOSH-approved respirator as described in

Continued use of these devices in underground mines is contingent upon implementation of the phase-out schedule for the devices described in MSHA Program Information Bulletin (PIB) No. 12–09.

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