We’re all in this together

vegas-skyline

It was great to meet so many friends and colleagues in Las Vegas last week for RETA’s annual conference. While all business is about personal relationships, most people recognize that the Ammonia Refrigeration industry is a uniquely tight-knit group. I’ve always been strong supporters of RETA because their focus is on the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians – the actual ground troops that do the work!

The comradery of the process operators in our industry is second to none and it’s always good to get the opportunity to assemble in one place for a few days to discuss common issues. A common theme this year in our conversations was one that has been very prevalent for the last few years, but only seems to be getting worse: the operator shortage.

For nearly a decade now there just aren’t enough skilled operators to go around and that has only highlighted the need for quality training for the new people we’re drafting into the field. There have been third-party solutions for overall refrigeration training for years and these programs have value, but they must serve to augment quality in-house training, not replace it.

What a quality in-house training program looks like is a very complicated subject and one we may write about at some point, but what I’d like to talk about today is something related to that topic: the power imbalance between the new and the seasoned operator.

While driving to Arkansas for a client visit earlier this week I was listening to a book on tape: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success.” In a chapter on Airplane crashes he spoke of a very interesting statistic: The plain is more likely to crash when the Captain is flying than when the First Officer is flying. Isn’t that odd? Wouldn’t you expect the more seasoned, more experienced Captain to be safer than the comparatively less seasoned and experienced First Officer?

He also offered what many psychologists believe is the reason for this: The Captain is very likely to point out a mistake made by the First Officer because they are in an elevated position compared to them. It is much more difficult – psychologically speaking – for the junior officer to challenge the Captain! With so many experienced operators training new ones, couldn’t we also be affected by this sort of power imbalance?

So, here are a couple thoughts for those of you in the field to help us all avoid the problems caused by power imbalance:

If you are the more seasoned, experienced technician:

  • Are you making yourself approachable?
  • Are you actively soliciting input from your colleagues on your plan of action?
  • Are you rewarding questions about your plan of action or punishing them?
  • Are you considering questions about your plan as teaching moments rather than challenges to your “authority?”

If you are the less seasoned, experience technician:

  • Are you speaking up if you have concerns or questions about the plan of action?
  • Are you insisting that you are heard rather than just making sure you have said your piece?
  • Are you posing your concerns or questions as opportunities for your colleagues to train you?

It’s the last bullet of each of those that I want to focus on briefly. Whether you are the questioner or the person answering the question, you need to look at these moments of confusion as teaching moments. Saying “That’s stupid” or “I wouldn’t do it that way,” is perceived as a challenge and isn’t likely to get a constructive response. Saying “Help me understand why you are doing it this way,” “Is there a reason not to do it this other way,” or “Let me explain why I’m doing it this way” starts a dialogue between people that can bring you both together.

By asking yourself the above questions, the experienced technician will soon come to understand that “teaching” someone often helps them clarify their thoughts and makes them understand their own actions better. The inexperienced technician will find that training isn’t just something that happens in a classroom – their day is full of learning opportunities.

Remember, we’re all in this together.

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When does a Car-Seal program make sense for Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration systems?

First off: What is a Car-Seal program and what does it do? 

A Car-Seal program is designed, implemented and managed to ensure that safety-critical valves within the covered process are maintained in their safety-critical position / setting during normal system operation. If the position / setting of a safety-critical valve is to be changed, it provides a procedure that functions as an administrative control to make this change safely.

Car-Sealing a valve OPEN or CLOSED is used ONLY if opening or closing that valve during normal operation could result in a Severe Safety Incident. Car-Sealed valves are usually designated on the P&ID’s as Car-Sealed OPEN (CSO) and Car-Sealed CLOSED (CSC), and are physically identified as Car-Sealed in its designated position / setting.

In order to more readily identify the location of the intended Car-Seals in the field, as well as the NORMALLY SAFE valve position / setting, the tags will be secured to the valve using COLOR CODED PLASTIC TIE STRAPS.

carseal

To put it bluntly: Car-Seals are placed on valves where REALLY bad things can happen if you move them from their normal (Safety Critical) position without taking precautions!

Where are they used in Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Systems? 

You should already have at least two Administrative Controls (safeguards) meant to minimize the hazard of opening and closing the wrong valves: Written SOPs and Trained Operators. The Car-Seal program is meant to add a third layer of protection on top of those two when changing the position of the valve could reasonably result in a Severe Safety Incident.

Severe Safety Incidentshall mean any incident which could result in any one or more of the following results:

  • An OSHA Recordable accident, fatality, one or more employees/contractors hospitalized
  • Any fire requiring the use of more than one (1) portable extinguisher or one wheeled unit to completely extinguish
  • Any environmental incident involving a regulated material which violates any of our permits or requires disposal of a hazardous waste
  • Any incident which activates or disables a pressure safety device.
  • Any event which had the clear potential for sudden loss of human life, either within the plant or beyond the fence line, which would result directly from a chemical release, fire or other safety-related incident
  • Any event which required an offsite notification of any type agency (fire, LEPC, EPA, OSHA, County Officials, City Officials)
  • Any event in which the site alarm system activates or is disabled (excluding false alarms and tests)

While the decision as to which situations could reasonably result in a Severe Safety Incident are best left to the PHA team, the following are common situations where they have been used:

  • On the CD Isolation Valve of a Condenser Coil
  • On the Inlet or Outlet Isolation Valve of a Thermosyphon Heat Exchanger
  • On any liquid cooling Heat Exchanger without a relief device*
  • Where a shutoff valve is placed before or after a relief device*
  • At Isolation Valves for dead-end or Future Expansion legs.

* A relief device in this case means a device to relieve excess pressure. While relief valves are common solutions, other examples include checkvalves, pressure-relieving regulators, EPCS solenoids, etc.

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DHS CFATS Top-Screen Update

It looks like the DHS has finally got around to updating their Top-Screen program. Below is the email from them:

——————————————————————————–

Subject: Enhanced CFATS Risk-Assessment Methodology and Upcoming Requirement to Submit CFATS Top-Screen
From: “cfatsupdate” <cfatsupdate@hq.dhs.gov>
Date: Tue, August 30, 2016

You are receiving this email because you are listed as an Authorizer or Submitter for a facility that has previously submitted a Top-Screen under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program.

For the past 9 years, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program has provided a regulatory framework through which America’s highest-risk chemical facilities have worked together with the Department of Homeland Security as they have put into place security measures designed to harden their facilities and chemical holdings against terrorist attack and exploitation. The CFATS risk-assessment methodology has been a foundational element of this effort. More than 30,000 facilities such as yours-which have held threshold quantities/concentrations of CFATS Chemicals of Interest-have met their obligation to submit a Top-Screen, kicking off the risk-assessment process. Although your facility may have previously been determined not to be “high-risk,” and, therefore, may not have been required to develop a Site Security Plan addressing the CFATS risk-based performance standards, it is important that our chemical security community continue to work together to ensure that we are assessing risk as accurately as possible–with a full focus on current information related to terrorist threat, potential vulnerabilities, and the potential consequences of a terrorist attack. With this in mind, and in partnership with industry stakeholders and experts from other government agencies and academia, we at DHS have been working hard to update and enhance the CFATS risk-assessment methodology.

In the coming months, we will be reaching out directly to your facility and other facilities believed to maintain threshold quantities of CFATS Chemicals of Interest, asking that you again comply with CFATS by submitting a new Top-Screen. I’m pleased to report that, along with the enhanced risk-assessment methodology, we have built a new online tool for submission of Top-Screens. This “Chemical Security Assessment Tool 2.0” (or “CSAT 2.0”) will provide a significantly more streamlined and user-friendly experience for facilities.

If you’d like to learn more about CFATS, please visit https://www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-chemical-security.

What does this mean for me and my facility?
On July 20, 2016, DHS suspended the requirement for the submission of Top-Screens and Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVA) in preparation for the rollout of CSAT 2.0 and to prevent duplicate submissions.

After the transition to CSAT 2.0 and the improved risk tiering methodology in October 2016, the Department will begin to individually notify chemical facilities of interest (to include facilities previously determined not to be high-risk) to resubmit a Top-Screen using the revised CSAT Top-Screen application. We will send a specific written notification to these facilities. These letters will be issued through CSAT 2.0 to each facility’s designated CFATS Authorizer and Submitter in a phased manner over the course of several months.

What will CSAT 2.0 do and when will this happen?
CSAT 2.0 will collect the data necessary to process facilities through the improved risk tiering methodology and improve the integration between the CSAT SVA and Site Security Plan (SSP) surveys. These changes will streamline the compliance process and significantly reduce the administrative burden associated with completing these surveys. CSAT 2.0 will include a revised CSAT portal user interface and the streamlined Top-Screen, SVA, and SSP surveys.

Next steps:

* The Department will replace the current CSAT surveys with the revised surveys this fall.

* On October 1, 2016, DHS will reinstate the Top-Screen and SVA submission requirements.

* We will individually notify facilities in a phased manner to resubmit their Top-Screens using the new tool.

How should I prepare?
Be sure you are able to log into your CSAT account and ensure the most up-to-date contact information is available for the submitter and authorizer. Log in to https://csat.dhs.gov/industry and select the “Update My Information” link to confirm that all information is correct and up-to-date. If you are unable to access your account, please contact the CFATS Help Desk, (866) 323-2957.

Training on CSAT 2.0

* REGISTER NOW! The Department will be hosting several webinars and presentations at several cities around the country to demonstrate the streamlined tool! The first of these sessions will be a two-part webinar held the first week of September:

CFATS Quarterly

* The Department has made significant progress on implementing the program since 2007, to include implementing the Personnel Surety Program. To learn more on current CFATS programmatic activities, view the attached latest CFATS Quarterly, a short newsletter we send regularly to our CFATS-regulated facilities (linked here: 2016-08 ISCD Quarterly Message_508 (crunched))

Additional Resources

* Contact the CFATS Help Desk, (866) 323-2957, a CFATS Compliance Case Manager, or your local Chemical Security Inspector with any questions by emailing CFATS@hq.dhs.gov<mailto:CFATS@hq.dhs.gov>.

* Visit the DHS website at www.dhs.gov/cfats-tiering-methodology or read the implementation notice published in the Federal Register for more information.
The Department is committed to sharing information, answering questions, and providing assistance to facilities. Please feel free to reach out to us regarding your questions by emailing CFATS@hq.dhs.gov

Thank you for your continuing commitment to fostering the security of America’s chemical infrastructure!

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Appeals Court upholds Contractor PSM Citations

A maintenance contractor that provides skilled labor to perform skilled labor, electrical and mechanical work was cited by OSHA for violations of the PSM standard after their employee was injured by a chemical release.

OSHA threw the book at them and through conference and litigation many of the citations were dropped. Two stuck around:

Item 3 alleged a serious violation of § 1910.119(j)(2) for failing to establish and implement written procedures for maintaining the ongoing integrity of process equipment;
Item 4 alleged a serious violation of § 1910.119(j)(3) for failing to train (the employee) in an overview of the process and its hazards and in the procedures applicable to his tasks;

The contractor asserted that the site owner was the operator of the plant, and therefore was the appropriate “employer” responsible for fulfilling the requirements set forth in the cited PSM standards and that the cited standards did not apply to the contractor.

The Appeals Court upheld the previous ALJ ruling:

ALJ expressly rejected Jacobs’s argument that §§ 1910.119(j)(2) and (3) do not apply to contract employers, finding that, under OSHA’ s multi-employer policy, the cited standard applied “to the cited conditions, not to the cited employer.” Because (the Contractor) was the “exposing employer,” it was responsible “for all violative conditions to which its employee had access.”

Two things to keep in mind here:

  • You have to deal with a contract employee the same as you would deal with any similarly situated employee.
  • Process Operator is a function, not a title. Whether it’s the janitor, a line cook, a salesman or a skilled contract employee – if they are operating the process, they are a Process Operator and all the PSM requirements will apply to them.

OSHA would have had a much easier time proving violations of the PSM standard under the Contractors element:

1910.119(h)(3)(i) – The contract employer shall assure that each contract employee is trained in the work practices necessary to safely perform his/her job.
1910.119(h)(3)(ii) – The contract employer shall assure that each contract employee is instructed in the known potential fire, explosion, or toxic release hazards related to his/her job and the process, and the applicable provisions of the emergency action plan.

My thinking is that they were trying to prove a larger point with these citations placed under the Mechanical Integrity element.

(link to ruling itself)

Posted in Compliance, Contractors, Inspections, Mechanical Integrity, Operator Training, OSHA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

OSHA increases fine amounts by 78%!

In November 2015, Congress enacted legislation requiring federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The Department of Labor is adjusting penalties for its agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA’s maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, will increase by 78%. Going forward, the agency will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index.

The new penalties will take effect after August 1, 2016. Any citations issued by OSHA after that date will be subject to the new penalties if the related violations occurred after November 2, 2015. Serious violation penalties move to a maximum amount of $12,471 per violation and Willful violation penalties move to a maximum amount of $124,709 per violation!

Don’t get caught by surprise – Consider a Compliance Audit or Gap Analysis of your program today!

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IRC releases their Mechanical Integrity Guidebook

I’ve had my copy for a few months and think the IRC has done a fantastic job with this book.

BookCover

Here is the press-release:

The IRC is pleased to announce the immediate availability of a new guidebook titled:

Principles and Practices of Mechanical Integrity Guidebook for Industrial Refrigeration Systems.

This guidebook serves as a comprehensive resource for those involved in designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining closed-circuit industrial ammonia refrigeration systems.

For more information on the IRC’s MI Guidebook, browse here.

To order your copy of the MI Guidebook, click here.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the IRC at info@irc.wisc.edu.

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Who is Certified / Qualified to Train Process Operators?

Variations of this question are a favorite of OSHA/EPA inspectors and generally the question is infuriating. It reminds me of the stories of medieval monks arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin – it’s a question with ZERO relevance to the requirements of the PSM/RMP standard. Why? Well, remember that PSM/RMP is a Performance-Based Standard and let’s look at the requirements:

First, we have Initial Training in 1910.119(g)(1)(i) which tells us what to provide training in and when to provide it:

Each employee presently involved in operating a process, and each employee before being involved in operating a newly assigned process, shall be trained in an overview of the process and in the operating procedures as specified in paragraph (f) of this section. The training shall include emphasis on the specific safety and health hazards, emergency operations including shutdown, and safe work practices applicable to the employee’s job tasks.

That’s telling us we have to train people BEFORE they work on the process. Generally speaking, that’s interpreted as before they start working on the process independently because it’s assumed that shadowing already qualified operators is an accepted training method. It also tells us that they need to be trained in the hazards of the process, emergency operations, shutdowns and safe work processes that are applicable to the things they are going to be asked to do.

So, if I am going to bring Suzy on board as an operator, I have to train her in the overall hazards of the process, how to operate it (including emergency operations), how to shut it down and in the safe work processes that she’s going to be asked to perform. If I am asking her to clean a condenser sump, I have to have trained her in it. If I am NOT asking her to do that task, then I don’t have to train her in it!

Next, we have Refresher Training in 1910.119(g)(2) which again tells us what to provide training in and when to provide it:

Refresher training shall be provided at least every three years, and more often if necessary, to each employee involved in operating a process to assure that the employee understands and adheres to the current operating procedures of the process. The employer, in consultation with the employees involved in operating the process, shall determine the appropriate frequency of refresher training.

That’s telling us that we have a performance burden – “to assure that the employee understands and adheres” to the current operating procedures of the process. Let me be really honest here: If your employee understood the procedure at one point (assuming you haven’t changed it) then they should understand it forever. Lacking the interference of hard drugs, brain injuries or Alzheimer’s’ you don’t un-understand something. What the issue is really is this: People ignore procedures. You have to make sure the practice in the field matches the practice in your written procedure.

Ok, now we know what to provide training in and when to provide it. The question that is vexing us is: Who can provide the training? There is no clear answer to this, but there is a very defensible answer to this and it is based on the documentation requirements in 1910.119(g)(3):

The employer shall ascertain that each employee involved in operating a process has received and understood the training required by this paragraph. The employer shall prepare a record which contains the identity of the employee, the date of training, and the means used to verify that the employee understood the training.

You see that bit at the end: “…the means used to verify that the employee understood the training?” That’s a performance burden, and if you couple that with the 1910.119(g)(2) performance burden, you get this:

Do your employees understand the training you provided so that they:

  • Understand the process
  • Understand the procedures
  • Follow the procedures

Ask yourself a question: If you were training an employee in draining an oil pot, how would you know that your training was successful?

In the real world, we know a trainee understands the procedures and follows them by observing them performing the task. You provide the training. You go through the procedure with them. Maybe you have them observe you doing the task. At some point, you’re going to have them perform the task and observe that they follow the procedure.

Some people get caught up in the HOW when it comes to training. What I described above is, in my opinion, the best way to train an operator in the real world. But, honestly, the HOW isn’t important – what’s important is the results of the training. If you bring in an MIT professor to teach thermodynamics, or a group of traveling circus midgets who “teach” thermodynamics through the power of interpretive dance, the ONLY acceptable real-world criteria for judging the qualifications of those trainers is the results of the training.

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Note: Yes, it’s easier to defend the use of a college professor teaching the material – or for that matter a RETA RAI or CIRO than someone without qualifications. That said, at some point the argument becomes futile: Who certified those people and what makes them qualified? If you follow that trail far enough you end up at the same place. At some point, someone did the job well enough and often enough that the people around them said: This guy knows his stuff. Qualification is in the doing. Ultimately being able to do the job is the only defensible argument that you were trained in it and, frankly, the only one that really matters.

Posted in Compliance, EPA, Operator Training, OSHA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Misunderstanding MOC

Recently a valve manufacturer that I respect posted a LinkedIn advertisement for one of their new relief valves. I love new technology so I was really interested in it but noticed something they posted in the graphic: “No PSM Changes required.” When we are replacing one valve for another and that valve is not an IDENTICAL replacement, this is VERY wrong.

Work through this with me here…

Changing a relief valve to a different type of valve would still require you to evaluate:

  • PHA: Does your PHA anticipate/support the use of this valve? It’s definitely classified as an engineering control (119(e)(3)(iii)) that needs to be part of your PHA.
  • PSI: Does it have the same capacity? Are your relief calculations still accurate?
  • MI/SOP: Is it maintained, inspected, installed and replaced the same way (1910.119(j)(2-5))?
  • Training: Are your people trained to maintain, inspect, install and replace it? (1910.119(j)(5))
  • PSSR: This definitely requires updated PSI (119(i)(1)), so not only does it require an MOC (1910.119(l)(4-5)) it requires a PSSR as well to ensure that the equipment is installed correctly and that:
    • Safety, operating, maintenance, and emergency procedures are in place and are adequate (119(i)(2)(ii))
    • Training of each employee involved in operating a process has been completed. (119(i)(2)(iv))

PHA: This is actually the element that should drive you to look at every other part of your PSM program mentioned here. In your PHA, you likely take credit for an engineered relief calculation (PSI element), a Maintenance Program (MI Element) including written procedures (MI & possibly SOP elements) and Training (Training element)

PSI: Let’s assume you check and it does have the same capacity: Don’t you want to take credit for this work and document it? I’ve never seen a relief calculation that didn’t show the relief valve model so won’t you want to update that as well? Do you have the new cut-sheet in your PSI IOM binder(s) and have you made your people familiar with it?

MI/SOP: Does the current MI schedule work for the new valve? Do the current maintenance, inspection, installation and replacement procedures work for the new valve? Again, even if they do, don’t you want to document that you looked?

Training: Have you conducted training on any differences you found in the elements above?

PSSR: Have you documented a PSSR that shows that the program has been updated, an MOC conducted (and closed out), written procedures provided and that training has been completed?

I am guessing they are trying to call this a Replacement in Kind but that is pretty sloppy thinking even if it were still the 90’s. Let me remind you of my favorite MOC guidance from the old OSHA PSM directive:

The standard requires that an MOC procedure be completed, regardless of whether any safety and health impacts will actually be realized by the change. The intent is, in part, to have the employer analyze any potential safety and health impacts of a change prior to its implementation. Even if the employer rightly concludes there would be no safety and health impacts related to a change, 1910.119(l)(1) still requires the employer to conduct the MOC procedure. The MOC requirements are important because many large incidents have occurred in the past when changes have been made and the employer either did not consider the safety and health impacts of the change, or did not appreciate (wrongly concluded) the potential consequences of the change before it was too late. Therefore, it is not only required, but important that the employer conducts an MOC procedure on each change, even those changes the employer believes will have no safety or health impacts.

Posted in Compliance, Good Engineering Practices, Management of Change | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What the Ammonia refrigeration industry can learn from West, TX

Last night I attended the CSB Public Meeting in Waco, TX concerning the 2013 West, TX Ammonia Nitrate explosion. The purpose of the meeting was to release their report on the incident.

The explosion resulted in 15 fatalities and 260 injuries. When the incident first occurred, the media blamed the co-located Anhydrous Ammonia for the explosion. No knowledgeable person that saw the video of the explosion thought this was an ammonia fire. What you are witnessing below is not a deflagration (from Ammonia) but a detonation from Ammonia Nitrate.

During a break, I asked one of the investigators “How quickly did you know this wasn’t an Anhydrous Ammonia explosion?” His answer, “On day one!” Yet, still today we have articles blaming this explosion on Anhydrous Ammonia. I know several refrigeration plants that were inspected by OSHA and told that their inspection was caused by the incident in West, TX.

During the public comment period at the end of the night, Dr. M. Sam Mannan from the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center at Texas A&M delivered some great remarks.

“Unless we learn to make these changes happen, that is capture the lessons learned into our practices and activities, I am afraid that these well done and thoughtful investigation reports will not yield any beneficial outcome. The same is true with incidents involving other chemicals. Very few incidents involve unknown root causes or lessons learned. In fact, there is a sameness of all incidents and it seems to me that we are watching the same basic set of circumstances over and over again. The systematic root causes and lessons learned from all incidents are more or less the same. Right after any incident there is a big push to learn from the incident, and then quickly everything is forgotten and we resume business as usual.”

So, even though this wasn’t an Anhydrous Ammonia incident, what can the Ammonia refrigeration industry learn from West, TX? Here are my thoughts:

  • Understand that your RAGAGEP (Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices) evolves and so should your process.
  • Don’t leave recommendations from previous audits / inspections unaddressed.
  • Take the time to develop a relationship with your emergency responders and drill on the incidents you could face together.

RAGAGEP – In this incident, there were consensus standards that provided safer practices for storing the ammonia nitrate. The facility believed themselves “Grandfathered” and ignored evolving, improved practices that would have almost assured this incident couldn’t have happened. Takeaway question for you: When is the last time you updated and looked at your IIAR Ammonia Refrigeration Library?

Recommendations – The insurance carrier for the facility made several recommendations over a period of years and didn’t receive much response to them. After several years of difficulties, the insurance carrier dropped them as a client. That’s a red flag that you have some cultural problems! While none of the recommendations the insurance carrier made were likely to have directly prevented the incident, it is likely that the culture developed from fixing known problems would have led to fixing the previously mentioned RAGAGEP issues. Takeaway question for you: When is the last time you looked through your Compliance Audits, PHA, MI, Incident Investigations, etc. to make sure there aren’t some open items you could address?

Emergency Responders – There was essentially no communication to the emergency responders about the detonation hazards of ammonia nitrate. They had knowledge of the Anhydrous Ammonia and had even drilled on dealing with it, but they were completely unprepared for the possibility of an ammonia nitrate explosion. Takeaway question for you: When is the last time you had the local emergency responders out to your site for a tour and a discussion on the hazards they COULD face in an emergency?

Please consider these three things above at your facility. Your efforts could mean we get to avoid going to a future CSB event concerning your facility.

On a personal note: The couple sitting directly in front of me lost their son, a volunteer firefighter, to the blast. One of the CSB investigators came over to talk with the family and spent a few moments discussing who he was as a person. It was a very emotional thing and I applaud the investigator for taking a little bit of time last night to acknowledge the victims as people, not just as statistics. The board started the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims, which was also appropriate and appreciated.

The CSB has had a rough few years, but what I saw last night gave me renewed hope.

Link: Photos from last night

Link: Previous post on the incident including photos of the damage.

Update: Link to new CSB Video that provides a nice overview

Posted in Community Involvement, Compliance, CSB, Culture, Good Engineering Practices, Incidents | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A little memo with some very big implications

 

Memo of Understanding between the DOL and DOJ:

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), recognizing the importance of ensuring the health and safety of America’s workforce, enter into this memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide for coordination of matters pertaining to worker safety that could lead to criminal prosecution by DOJ. This MOU establishes a process and framework for notification, consultation and coordination between DOL and DOJ to aid both agencies in more effectively implementing our nationa l workplace statutes.

That means, that employers now face prison terms of up to 20 years instead of the paltry 6 months for OSHA violations if they are convicted of certain crimes that contribute to the deaths of employees.

More from the memo to US Attorneys:

Prosecutors can make enforcement meaningful by charging other serious offenses that often occur in association with OSH Act violations – including false statements, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, conspiracy, and environmental and endangerment crimes. With penalties ranging from 5 to 20 years’ incarceration, plus significant fines, these felony provisions provide additional important tools to deter and punish workplace safety crimes.

Below is the actual Memorandum of Understanding between the DOL and DOJ as well as the Memo explaining the initiative to the US Attorneys.

Links:

EHS Article

Memo to US Attorneys re Worker Endangerment Initiative

Memorandum of Understanding between DOJ and DOL re Worker Safety

 

Posted in Community Involvement, Compliance, OSHA | Tagged | Leave a comment