Industrial Dust Powder

British Columbia’s workplace regulatory body, WorkSafeBC, fined West Fraser Mills, a wood product firm that operates in both the United States and in Canada, $115,000 for having combustible dust present at several of their locations. Inspectors noticed the potentially combustible wood dust around several electrical fixtures, appliances, motors, and moving machinery parts. The flammable dust is supposed to be collected and cleaned up in the locations in which it’s produced. Places with heat and electricity become safety hazards quickly when the dust is not taken care of properly.

Key Takeaways:

  • West Fraser Mills was issued a hefty fine for letting wood dust accumulate in their warehouses.
  • Fine wood dust comes from milling different wood products and can build up in several places.
  • Fine would dust is susceptible to catching on fire and would not need much to get it started.

“British Columbia’s occupational safety regulator, WorkSafeBC, issued a CAD$150,000 (about $114,000) fine to wood products firm West Fraser Mills this November for accumulations of combustible dust in several buildings at its Quesnel, BC manufacturing site.”

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Gas Plant Explosion

In July of 2016, the mismanagement of a heat exchanger led to an extensive series of explosions that resulted in damaging forest fires in Mississippi. The mismanagement was a result of Enterprise Products Pascagoula Gas Plant allowing the equipment to experience too much thermal fatigue. If there had been more extensive safety measures and inspection protocols set in place, these disastrous results may not have occurred, saving a plethora of vegetation and clean up funds.

Key Takeaways:

    • As regards a Mississippi gas leak explosion, a February 12 report points to thermal fatigue as the culprit.
    • Thermal fatigue refers to the weakening of materials over time, due to the stress of heating and cooling.
    • Upon inspection, it was clear that small cracks had arisen over time, due to temperature fluctuations.

“The plant – which had repaired four heat exchangers nine times in 17 years, CSB found – was shut down for nearly six months.”

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When trying to reduce trip hazards, a paradigm shift is needed. It is believed that personal awareness is necessary for prevention, but this does not take into account that walking is an automatic function for humans. Next, we look to shoes, but discount the fact that soles wear out. When it comes to signs, they may help when new, but they quickly become invisible. Preventing slips and falls should be easy, but we need to be willing to dig deeper to find the real cause of slips and falls.

Key Takeaways:

  • Look to shoes first for preventing slip injuries. Author states that the paradigm of thinking that the shoes are the main culprit of slips and falls isn’t necessarily always true.
  • Using signage is an effective prevention strategy. Signage doesn’t remove the hazard, but using highly visible cues can aid in avoiding the hazard.
  • Deal with the cause of the problem first, that way you don’t have to deal with a bigger problem later.

“This should be our wake-up call to discard these commonly held paradigms that have for years impeded our effectiveness as safety people to actually prevent slip-and-trip injuries.”

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