Companies Fined $112,600 in Fatal Dust Explosion

The explosion killed a 25-year-old man and injured five others in February at JCG Farms in Rockmart, GA


“It is tragic that despite wide industry awareness of these hazards, that some employers remain unaware of the common hazards of combustible dust,” said Christi Griffin, OSHA’s area director in the Atlanta-West Office. “This incident and this man’s death were preventable.”

An example of a company that allowed a buildup of combustible dust to create deadly hazard and dust explosion.

Consider the following steps for a safer workplace:

  • Facility managers should be aware of the hazards of the dust produced during their production process, by observing NFPA and OSHA standards for combustible dust
  • Document and follow housekeeping procedures to minimize the buildup of hazardous or combustible dust.
  • Implement dust collection and air filtration systems to minimize dust buildup of nuisance dust.

Dust experts are standing by to provide an analysis of the dust hazards of your facility and provide recommendations for the safe management and containment of dust. Contact Gulftech today for a free review of your dust hazards. [email protected], 727-469-8773

OSHA Proposes Lowering Workplace Beryllium Levels

OSHA is proposing new standards on exposure to beryllium, an acknowledgement that many of its standards don’t adequately cover all workplace hazards. Beryllium is a metal widely used in the aircraft and aerospace industries because of its conductive and thermal properties when alloyed with other metals. Beryllium and its compounds are carcinogenic and toxic and when dust or fumes are inhaled can cause an incurable illness known as chronic beryllium disease or berylliosis. The Air Filtration and Indoor Air Quality experts at GulfTech Enterprises have significant experience in providing customer solutions to beryllium exposure. [1] They have installed air filtration systems to safely capture and contain the hazardous beryllium dust to OSHA standards.

OHSA’s proposal is historically significant because it represents a collaborative effort between industry and labor unions. The nation’s main manufacturer of beryllium products, Materion, and the United Steelworkers labor union, representing many of those who work with beryllium, recognized the need for a new standard. Together, they approached OSHA in 2012 to suggest a stronger standard.

“This collaboration of industry and labor presents a historic opportunity to protect the lives and lungs of thousands of beryllium-exposed workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We hope other industries where workers are exposed to deadly substances join with unions and other organizations representing those workers to reduce exposures, prevent diseases and save lives.”[2]

There are an estimated 35,000 workers in the metalworking industry with potential exposure to beryllium that would be covered by OSHA’s rulemaking. Currently, OSHA’s eight-hour permissible exposure limit or PEL for beryllium is 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. [3] That standard was adopted by OSHA in 1971 and has not changed since. OSHA’s proposed standard would reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. Air Filtration and dust collection systems designed by experienced companies such as GulfTech, Inc.[4] can help employers meet that standard. The proposed rule would also require additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training.

“This proposal will save lives and help thousands of workers stay healthy and be more productive on the job,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “We’re pleased that industry has been such a strong voice in advocating for a more rigorous standard. The proposal is strong because of unprecedented partnership between manufacturers and the United Steelworkers.”[5]

While the exposure limits set back in 1971 had a significant effect in reducing fatalities due to acute beryllium disease, it has become clear in the 45 years since that exposure below 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air also had damaging long-term health effects. Although OSHA initially proposed to lower the permissible exposure limit for beryllium in 1975 it was not until industry and labor banded together that gave impetus to finally affect change.

OSHA estimates that the rule could prevent almost 100 deaths and 50 serious illnesses each year. Workers who inhale beryllium particles can develop a debilitating, incurable illness known as chronic beryllium disease, and are also at increased risk of lung cancer. Dangers arise when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, mist or other forms.

The majority of current worker exposures to beryllium occur in operations such as foundry and smelting operations, machining, beryllium oxide ceramics and composites manufacturing and dental lab work.

The proposed rule was published in the Aug. 7, 2015 issue of the Federal Register. [1]

[1] OSHA proposal would lower beryllium levels, increase workplace protections, https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/nat-20150806.html

[1] Installing Dust Collection System Helps Aerospace Company Safely Capture Hazardous Dust, https://www.gulftech.us/dust-collection-system-helps-aerospace-company-safely-capture-hazardous-dust/

[2] OSHA proposal would lower beryllium levels, increase workplace protections, https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/nat-20150806.html

[3] OSHA Proposal (Same as Footnote 2)

[4] https://www.gulftech.us/

[5] OSHA proposal (See Footnote 2)

[1] OSHA proposal would lower beryllium levels, increase workplace protections, https://www.osha.gov/newsrelease/nat-20150806.html

Ron Beadenkopf is the Business Development Director and Technical Sales Manager at GulfTech Enterprises, Inc. located in Clearwater, FL

As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester

As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester

TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. — Sheri Farley walks with a limp. The only job she could hold would be one where she does not have to stand or sit longer than 20 minutes, otherwise pain screams down her spine and up her legs.

“Damaged goods,” Ms. Farley describes herself, recalling how she recently overheard a child whispering to her mother about whether the “crippled lady” was a meth addict.

For about five years, Ms. Farley, 45, stood alongside about a dozen other workers, spray gun in hand, gluing together foam cushions for chairs and couches sold under brand names like Broyhill, Ralph Lauren and Thomasville. Fumes from the glue formed a yellowish fog inside the plant, and Ms. Farley’s doctors say that breathing them in eventually ate away at her nerve endings, resulting in what she and her co-workers call “dead foot.”

A chemical she handled — known as n-propyl bromide, or nPB — is also used by tens of thousands of workers in auto body shops, dry cleaners and high-tech electronics manufacturing plants across the nation. Medical researchers, government officials and even chemical companies that once manufactured nPB have warned for over a decade that it causes neurological damage and infertility when inhaled at low levels over long periods, but its use has grown 15-fold in the past six years.

Such hazards demonstrate the difficulty, despite decades of effort, of ensuring that Americans can breathe clean air on the job. Even as worker after worker fell ill, records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show that managers at Royale Comfort Seating, where Ms. Farley was employed, repeatedly exposed gluers to nPB levels that exceeded levels federal officials considered safe, failed to provide respirators and turned off fans meant to vent fumes. …

Click on the link to read the rest of the story.




New EPA Requirements on Disposal and Recycling of Solvents

New EPA Requirements on Disposal and Recycling of Solvents

By Stephen Barlas, Contributing Writer

The new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule on recycling of hazardous waste will affect many manufacturing sectors, including metalworking. The rule goes into effect in July. It is likely to add some regulatory hoops to jump through for companies that have been storing spent solvents on-site maybe with the thought of recycling, landfilling, or incinerating them.

However, the new rule does not affect the recycling of scrap metal. That has been subject to an exclusion from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, meaning it has never been considered a “hazardous secondary material” and can therefore be sent off for recycling with very few restrictions.

Going forward, the same will not be true for solvents, spent oil, and other substances that are considered hazardous secondary materials. Companies that want to continue to accumulate hazardous materials on-site will need to get state or federal permits. Those that send the materials off-site will have to comply with new recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

The EPA has been concerned for a decade about solvents and other hazardous materials being land-filled, perhaps creating a Superfund site down the road. The agency started the rule making process to address this subject all the way back in 2003, but the effort was sidetracked by lawsuits, additional studies, and various rule makings that went nowhere.

In 2011 the EPA proposed ending its transfer exclusion, which had been in place to shield many
hazardous secondary materials from being defined as solid waste. Many industrial sectors erupted in

For metal manufacturers that do want to continue to accumulate waste on-site, the final rule offers
a new option called the Certified Recycling Facility, which comes with considerable record keeping, storage requirements, spill prevention, financial assurance, worker training, and notification requirements. Under the new Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule, manufacturers can register as a Certified Recycling Facility with either the EPA or the state Solid Waste Agency. Facilities that successfully certify under the new rule can stockpile hazardous secondary materials such as solvents and oil. While this may be attractive to some, most facilities may choose to avoid the regulatory commitments that come with being registered as Certified Recycling Facility and opt for the generator option under the new rule, according to Phillip Retallick, senior vice president, compliance and regulatory affairs, Clean Harbors Environmental Services Inc. Retallick worked for the EPA for 10 years, then as director of the Delaware Solid and Hazardous Waste Program before joining the private sector.

The EPA has been concerned for a decade about solvents and other hazardous materials being land filled.

Retallick said, “The final rule allows fabricators the option to register as a generator with the authorized state environmental program or the EPA, if a state opts not to promulgate the new rule. This option allows the company to collect and store hazardous wastes designated for recycling as long as the yard meets some requirements, such as notifying either the state or the EPA that the yard is a generator subject to the rule … maintaining records of the amount of secondary hazardous waste collected and stored on-site, keeping documentation showing the amount and description of the secondary hazardous materials sent off-site for recycling, and notifying local emergency response officials where the accumulated secondary hazardous wastes are being stored on-site at the salvage yard.

Solvent Recycling Systems