Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Glass-Reinforced Plastic Production Process $90K OSHA Fine

OSHA's inspection found that combustible particulate solids, which were generated during trimming and repair operations, were not collected into an adequately designed dust collection system, were allowed to accumulate on machinery and surfaces, and were not adequately cleaned up to prevent such buildup.

Housekeeping appears to be the major issue with this recent OSHA citation for combustible dust fire and explosion hazards at a Pawcatuck, Connecticut plant. Reviewing a MSDS sheet for glass-reinforced plastics (GRP) highlights that GRP is a compound based upon a mix of glass fibre in a polyester and styrene resin based mix.

The fire hazards of GRP arise when combustible dust from machining and fabrication operations of combustible particulate solids may be explosive if mixed with air in critical proportions in the presence of an ignition source. Additionally, during storage and handling the dust generated during normal manufacturing operations can represent both a health hazard and a fire hazard. Most importantly as the OSHA news release informs stakeholders to use dust control equipment at the point of generation in machining and sawing operations.

An often overlooked potential ignition source are powered industrial trucks where combustible dust mentioned in this news release was exposed to several potential ignition sources, including an LP gas-powered industrial truck. What class of forklift are you using at your facility? Is it rated for use in potentially explosive atmospheres? The recent status report on the OSHA Combustible Dust NEP emphasized that combustible dust citations for powered industrial trucks was the third most cited violation after hazardous communication and housekeeping violations.

The 5th Annual Industrial Fire, Safety, and Security Conference (IFSS) in Houston, Texas will be hosting a Full-Day Combustible Dust Workshop on February 2, 2010, which will provide information assisting stakeholders in addressing potential combustible dust ignition sources. During one segment of the workshop, guest speaker Robert Zuiderveld, General Manager of Business Development Americas from Pyroban Corp. will share with attendees specific information on the operation of powered industrial trucks in combustible dust. work environments. Information throughout the full day workshop will assist stakeholders in operating and maintaining a safe workplace in addition to achieving OSHA regulatory compliance.

Good housekeeping is a major issue at facilities with the generation of combustible dust from combustible particulate solids. Many facility managers and owners are not aware of the proper methods in cleaning up the dust. You just can't take a compressed air hose and start blowing down the area nor sweeping while unaware of the dust clouds that can be generated, which provide an explosive atmosphere similar to a flammable vapor cloud. Potential ignition sources in the process are inherent at many facilities. The safe and approved alternative is the use of an explosive-proof rated vacuum cleaner.

Guest speaker Bruce Gordon, Senior District Manager, from Nilfisk CFM will speak in the afternoon at the Combustible Dust workshop on "Proper Housekeeping and Explosion-Proof Vacuums Hazardous Locations" concerning good housekeeping that will minimize the likelihood of a combustible dust related fire or explosion in addition to achieving regulatory compliance. OSHA combustible dust citations are costly yet a catastrophic secondary dust explosion leveling the facility can be even more of problem. Do you know about the combustible dust hazards at your facility?

Resources
Glass-Reinforced Plastics
(GRP)

 

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