CSB Releases Final Report into Nitrous Oxide Explosion

On April 20, 2017, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final report into the August 28, 2016, nitrous oxide explosion at the Airgas manufacturing facility in Cantonment, Florida. The blast killed the only Airgas employee working at the facility that day and heavily damaged the plant, halting its manufacturing of nitrous oxide indefinitely.

The CSB investigation found that federal regulations require some chemical facilities that manufacture hazardous substances to have process safety management systems in place to protect their workforce and the public.  The CSB discovered, however, that a majority of these specialized rules are not required for nitrous oxide facilities.

In its final report, the CSB notes that the contributing causes of the explosion all stemmed from the lack of an effective process safety management system. For example:

–       Even though heat from the pump was a known hazard, Airgas did not evaluate safer design options that could have eliminated the need for the pump altogether;

–       The company did not perform a management of change review or hazard analysis before installing the pump to identify and control hazards; and

–       Safeguards installed by the company, including the safety interlock to automatically shut down the pump, and flame arrestors were likely ineffective, and failed to prevent the incident.

OSHA Delays Enforcement of Silica Standard in Construction

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Monday a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers. The Agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary because of the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017. – See more at: http://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com

Ecology adopts new Hazardous Waste Fee Regulatory Language

The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) adopted amendments to Chapter 173-305 Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Hazardous Waste Fee Regulation on April 5, 2017.  To see the rulemaking documents visit Ecology’s website at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/hwtr/laws_rules/HWFee/1606docs.html.  The rule includes the following changes:

  • Exempts
    • Dangerous waste treated on-site by Generator
    • Non-recurrent (e.g. spill clean-up) dangerous waste
  • Modifies the definition of Price Deflator which affects the maximum total fees collected. The language was updated to clarify how the fee is adjusted annually for inflation; the language is now consistent with actual practice.

The rulemaking is not expected to change fee practices but to codify current practices.  It will not require businesses to change how they report dangerous waste.  The rule is effective May 6, 2017.