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Report on Comments – June 2011


killed and Employee #2 injured in explosion and was hospitalized.

These examples of OSHA documented accidents illustrates that accidents do happen when proper safety measures are not taken against mechanical sparks from steel tools as a possible ignition source. We are not equipped to show specific fire hazard patterns but would welcome any resources the Committee is aware of that are publicly available. However, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA stated to Congress in June, 2010 that “Conventional injury and illness rates are not adequate indicators of the risk of fires, explosions, or other catastrophic accidents, and companies need to develop better leading indicators to assess risks in their workplaces”.


The Committee refutes the statement that the US Department of Transportation’s Emergency Response Guide

(ERG) “requires” the use of non-sparking tools and that the ERG is a guide, not a mandatory document. However, OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.120(q)(6)(i)(E) and EPA regulation 40 CFR 311 both recognizes the value of the ERG by requiring responders to be trained regarding its use. The ERG specifies the use of “non-sparking tools” to handle spills or leaks for flammable liquids in Guide 127 Flammable Liquids (Polar/Water-Miscible), Guide 128 Flammable Liquids (Non-Polar/Water-Immiscible), Guide 129 Flammable Liquids (Polar/Water-Miscible/Noxious), Guide

130 Flammable Liquids (Non-Polar/Water-Immiscible/Noxious), Guide 131 Flammable Liquids – Toxic, Guide 132 Flammable Liquids - Corrosive

4. The Committee stated that the Committee is not aware of corporate standards that mandate non-sparking tool use, except for those industries dealing with explosive materials and energetic propellants. 29 CFR 1910.1200(g) (2) (viii) requires MSDS to include “protective measures during repair and maintenance of contaminated equipment, and procedures for clean-up of spills and leaks” among others. 29 CFR 1910.1200(h)(3)(iii) further requires employers to include the measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment to be used”. In fact, OSHA issues citations for not using non-sparking tools as recommended by manufacture’s MSDS (i.e. OSHA inspection# 304994304). Furthermore, OSHA Standard Interpretation, December 22, 2008, “Requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and the Employer's Ability to Rely on a Manufacturer's Hazard Determination” also states that “Additionally, if an employer has sufficient information about a potential health hazard for which no information is provided on the MSDS, it must provide employees with additional information and training regarding those new hazards. Based on the performance oriented nature of the HCS, if employers have this information, they must provide it to their employees, including information related to how employees can recognize exposures and measures to protect themselves against the workplace hazards. 29 CFR 1910.1200(h).” Again, API members such as ExxonMobil and Chevron as well as others in the petroleum industry such as Valero, CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Chem-Supply, Pty Ltd, Irving Oil Ltd, Petrol Star Inc, Nova Chemicals and El Paso Corporation list “non-sparking” tools under Accidental Release Measures and Handling and Storage sections in the MSDS’s for their petroleum products. As stated previously, OSHA HCS requires employer to provide measures to protect employees. A feasible measure to control ignition hazard associated with steel tools is to use spark resistant tools as listed on manufacturers’ MSDS.

5. The Committee stated that field compliance directives of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration have recognized that non-sparking tools need not be mandated. We are perplexed by the Committee’s statement. For example, OSHA Directive CPL 02-02-071, Technical Enforcement and Assistance Guidelines for Hazardous Waste Site and RCRA Corrective Action Clean-up Operations, Section II, Compliance Check List, item 12 “If a flammable atmosphere might be present during drum and container handling, is the potential for ignition minimized through the use of non-sparking hand tools and material handling equipment designed to prevent sources of ignition?” This compliance checklist lists when specifically non-sparking tools are to be used and help the compliance officer to understand if the employer is in compliance. Another example, OSHA Directive CPL 02-00-142, Shipyard Employment Tool Bag Directive, 29 CFR 1910, Subpart H: Hazardous Materials, section 1910.107(g), “…except for 1910.107(g)(2), which is generally preempted by 1915.35(b)(6) for non-sparking tools used in painting spaces…” 29 CFR 1915.35(b)(6) requires “Only non-sparking paint buckets, spray guns and tools shall be used. Metal parts of paint brushes and rollers shall be insulated. Staging shall be erected in a manner which ensures that it is non-sparking.”

OSHA has also issued citations for not using non-sparking tools, for example, OSHA inspection# 313523375, a composite manufacturer was cited for violation of OSHA flammable and combustible liquids regulation 29 CFR 1910.106(h)(7)(i)(a) that precaution was not taken to prevent the ignition of flammable vapors. The employer did not use non-spark producing tools in areas listed by the employer as Class I Division I locations. Process Technicians in building used a T-Wrench tool(s) that were not made of non-sparking material to secure and unsecure manway bolts on kettle reactor vessels and blend tank manway covers. This exposed process technicians and other employees to an explosion and fire hazard, in-that a spark can potentially be produced while using the tool, igniting potentially present flammable vapors from the process vessel during charging process. A few more examples of OSHA citations for not using

Printed on 9/16/2010


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