How Do the New OSHA Crystalline Silica Rules Affect Construction Companies?

Posted on Friday, September 22nd, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

Crystalline silica is a common mineral that is found in materials that construction workers deal with every day – such as roads, buildings, and sidewalks. It is a common component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of these materials often create crystalline silica dust exposure in construction. Scientific evidence shows that current exposure limits do not adequately protect worker health. The new OSHA Construction Standard will help to fully protect workers against dangers of exposure to respirable crystalline silica in the workplace. OSHA’s new standards to protect workers in construction are set to roll out this weekend, on September 23, 2017.

Here are the New Requirements for Construction Employers:

  1. Design and implement an exposure control plan that identifies tasks that involve exposure and methods used to protect workers,
  2. Designate a competent person to implement the written exposure control plan,
  3. Restrict housekeeping practices that expose workers to silica where feasible alternatives are available,
  4. Offer medical exams (chest X-rays, lung function tests) every 3 years for workers who are exposed at or above the action level and are required to wear a respirator for 30 days or more per year,
  5. Provide training for workers on the operations that result in silica exposure and ways to limit exposure to crystalline silica,
  6. Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and their medical exams.

OSHA allows for two alternative methods of ensuring compliance with these requirements: standard control methods specified in the Table: SPECIFIED EXPOSURE CONTROL METHODS WHEN WORKING WITH MATERIALS CONTAINING CRYSTALLINE SILICA that match common tasks with dust control methods, or the alternative control methods mentioned below.

Crystalline Silica Exposure Alternative Control Methods:

  • Measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to. Is it at or above the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour workday?
  • Protect workers from respirable crystalline silica exposures above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour workday.
  • Use dust controls.
  • Provide respirators that have been properly fit tested to the worker when dust controls cannot limit exposures to the PEL.

Compliance Schedule:

OSHA Standards contained in the final rule took effect on June 23, 2017, but the enforcement was delayed to September 23rd. Industries have one to five years to comply with the requirements, based on the following compliance schedule:

  • Construction: September 23, 2017. OSHA delayed enforcement in order to conduct additional outreach and provide more guidance for employers.
  • General Industry and Maritime: June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing: June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date for all provisions except Engineering Controls, which have the compliance date of June 23, 2021.

You can find additional information on OSHA’s silica rule at OSHA can provide extensive help through different programs, including technical assistance about effective safety and health programs, workplace consultations, and training and education.

One of the most effective ways to protect against silica is using the appropriate respirators. The best-selling 7000 and 7800 series respirators by Moldex will ensure complete protection against crystalline silica and other harmful agents. However, a respirator can’t protect you if it doesn’t fit properly. A respirator must form a tight seal with your face and neck to function properly. This is why it is important to perform a respirator fit test before starting projects that involve exposure to silica. Moldex can help you stay in compliance with the new silica standard. Qualified safety managers and company buyers can check out a sample of Moldex respiratory or hearing protection products for free:


How do you know if you are providing enough protection? Talk to us at 800-829-9580 or visit us online. We have the right respirators and safety gear to help protect your crew and keep your company OSHA compliant.


All You Need to Know About The Walking-Working Surfaces And Personal Fall Protection Systems Final Rule

Posted on Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

The purpose of the OSHA’s final rule is to revise the outdated general industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) Standards on the slip, trip, and fall hazards, which are a leading cause of worker injuries and deaths. The Walking-Working Surfaces; Personal Protective Equipment (Fall Protection Systems) Standard, 29 CFR 1910.22, became effective January 17, 2017. The final rule covers general industries (building management services, utilities, warehousing, chimney sweeping, outdoor advertising) and aims to prevent workplace slips, trips, and falls.

To ensure more consistency in the requirements across all industries, OSHA’s Final Rule revises the following general industry standards:

  • Fall protection flexibility (§1910.28(b)): it eliminates the existing mandate to use guardrails as the primary fall protection method and gives employers the flexibility to determine what method will work best in their situation.
  • Updated scaffold requirements (§1910.27(a)): it replaces the outdated general industry scaffold standards with the requirement that employers must comply with OSHA’s construction scaffold standards.
  • Phase-in of ladder safety systems or personal fall arrest systems on fixed ladders (§1910.28(b)(9)): it phases in over 20 years a requirement to equip fixed ladders (that extend over 24 feet) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems and prohibits the use of cages and wells, but requires that employers equip new ladders and replacement ladders/ladder sections with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems.
  • Phase-out of the “qualified climber” exception in outdoor advertising (§1910.28(b)(10)): it phases out OSHA’s directive allowing qualified climbers in outdoor advertising to climb fixed ladders on billboards without fall protection and phases in the requirement to equip fixed ladders (over 24 feet) with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems.
  • Rope descent systems and certification of anchorages (§1910.27(b)): it prohibits employers from using RDS at heights greater than 300 feet above grade unless they demonstrate that it is not feasible or creates a greater hazard to use any other system. It requires building owners to provide and employers to obtain the information that permanent anchorages used with RDS have been inspected, tested, maintained, and certified as capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds per employee attached.
  • Personal fall protection system performance and use requirements (§1910.140): it allows employers to use personal fall protection systems (personal fall arrest, travel restraint, and positioning systems), adds requirements on the performance, inspection, use, and maintenance of the systems. It prohibits using body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system.
  • Inspection of walking-working surfaces (§1910.22(d)): it requires that employers inspect walking-working surfaces regularly and correct, repair, or guard against hazardous conditions.
  • Training (§1910.30): it adds requirements that employers ensure workers who use personal fall protection equipment and work in high hazard situations are trained and retrained if necessary.

OSHA expects employers to fully protect their employees from slip, trip, and fall hazards. For more details, go to

How can you improve fall protection for your employees?

Falls from heights and on the same-level working surfaces are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and fatalities. Injuries occur as a result of the loss of balance most likely in the following situations: a foot/a leg hits an obstacle while an upper body continues moving forward, or while stepping down to a lower level. Falls can also result from working on the unstable surfaces, from misuse of the fall protection equipment, and if floor holes and wall openings are not protected or guarded. Most common slip, trip, and fall injuries include strains, sprains, bruises, fractures, and concussion, and are 100% preventable.

The key measures to ensure fall protection are the following:

  • All passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and floors must be kept in clean, dry condition;
  • Aisles and passageways must be kept clear;
  • Employers must provide fall protection in the following situations: hoist areas, runways, areas above dangerous equipment’s wall openings, repair pits, stairways, scaffolds, platforms;
  • Guardrails/covers must be provided to protect employees from the hazards of falling into open pits, tanks, vats, ditches;
  • Employers must protect workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides/edges that are 4 feet above a lower level. The open sides of platforms more than 4 feet above an adjacent floor or ground level must be guarded by a standard railing;
  • Employers must train workers on fall hazards and fall protection in high hazard situations.

Here are some examples of what happens when employers or employees do not follow these recommendations:

  1. An oil slip leads to a shoulder injury and a $600,000 lawsuit. A driver climbed onto the step-deck trailer to readjust one of the chains. The step-deck trailer was “wet as it was raining and had hydraulic oil on it” which caused the driver to slip while holding onto the chain, making his body twist, his legs fall over the edge of the trailer, which caused a serious injury. Leaking hydraulic oil on the surface made it unsafe and a safety analysis of the truck would have prevented that slip.
  2. OSHA proposed $272,720 in fines against New York contractors for safety hazards after the inspection conducted in response to a complaint against fall hazards. “These employees were one trip, slip or misstep away from a deadly or disabling fall. … There is no excuse for an employer’s failure to supply and ensure the use of legally required safeguards that can prevent injuries and save lives,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director.

If you have questions or need help finding the fall protection equipment, please feel free to call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at


  1. Final rule:
  3. OSHA Law Blog:
  6. The Chronicle:

Top 5 Tips on How to Avoid OSHA HCS Violation Penalties

Posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

The OSHA Hazard Communications Standard (HCS) 1910.1200 is important because it prevents over 500 workplace injuries and about 43 deaths across the USA annually. Revised in 2012, it covers 43 million workers engaged in handling hazardous materials at work. The Standard mandates the identification of about 650,000 hazardous chemicals and enforces the appropriate protective measures.

As a Safety Manager at a facility that handles hazardous materials (even part time or on rare occasion), there are several factors to keep in mind to ensure employees remain safe on the job.

Here are 5 key elements of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and tips on how to implement them to keep your workers safe.

5 Key Elements of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard

  1. Materials Inventory:

Have a list of the hazardous materials present in your work area.

  1. Material Safety Data Sheets:

Compile a detailed description of each hazardous material listed in the Materials Inventory.

  1. Labeling:

Label all the containers with hazardous materials to identify the material and to warn employees of its potential hazard.

  1. Training:

Train all the employees on the dangers of the particular chemicals they will be working with, and show how to use the required personal protective equipment at work.

  1. Written Program:

Develop a written program which ties together all the materials and processes mentioned above.


Who Needs a Hazard Communication Program?

Any job site that includes working with chemicals is required to have Hazard Communication Programs set up in order to educate workers on the various dangerous aspects of chemicals, like flammability and explosiveness. To ensure chemical safety at work, all the necessary information about the chemical hazards must be available – which can be done through the methods and practices mentioned above.

Violation of the HCS is one of the most commonly cited OSHA violations. Most cited industries include specialty trade contractors, fabricated metal, and machinery manufacturing, repair and maintenance, wholesalers, mineral product manufacturing, construction, wood manufacturing, and food manufacturing. The reason why some workplaces don’t enforce the Standard’s implementation is that they think that explaining the key dangers of various chemicals to their workers is too complicated and hard for them to understand. As a result, some employees start practicing unsafe methods while working with various chemicals. This is why Hazard Communication Training is extremely important in educating workers on the dangers of the chemicals they are working with.

One of the key aspects of a Hazard Communication Program is a careful review of the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) designed to inform workers about all they need to know about particular hazardous chemicals. Along with this information, workers also need to know the following: how to fully inspect the PPE required for their project before putting it on, and the emergency procedures in case of an accident.

It is extremely important to have eyewash stations set up in close proximity to the hazardous work site, regularly inspect and test them, and provide training for your employees on how to properly use them. Work sites that are required to have wash stations include laboratories, high dust areas, spraying and dipping operations, battery charging and hazardous substance dispensing areas, etc. Learn more from our previous blog post: How to Comply with Important Requirements for Eye Wash Stations.

Following these rules and requirements will create a much safer environment at your work site. If your company is not already HCS compliant, now is the time to act.

Download Hazard Communication Pictograms

Go to the OSHA’s Hazard Communication web page to learn more about the standards and resources available.

If you have questions or would like help selecting the right PPE, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or visit us online at


How to Easily Prevent Catastrophic Dust Explosions

Posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

Effective September 2015, the NFPA 652 Standard outlines the requirements for controlling combustible dust hazards. The Standard specifies guidelines on dust combustibility and emphasizes the importance of fire protection and explosion prevention. It states that within three years, starting from October 2015, a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA) must be performed by all enterprises that generate combustible dusts. It is also good to know the difference between NFPA 652 and NFPA 654 standards: the first one focuses on combustible dust hazards, the second one – on explosion protection in chemical processing facilities.

Combustible dust explosion hazards exist in a variety of industries including:

  • Agriculture, fertilizer, grain, tobacco, food processing (for example, candy, sugar, spice, starch, flour)
  • Rubber, tire manufacturing
  • Wood and paper processing facilities, furniture, textiles, dyes
  • Chemical processing, pesticides, pharmaceuticals
  • Plastics and recycling operations
  • Fossil fuel power generation (coal)
  • Metal processing (aluminum, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc) and welding

In general, about 70% of dusts are explosive. In addition, non-explosive materials (sand or silica, for example) could become explosive when mixed with other explosive materials (such as organic or metal dust) in sufficient concentration.

Why Do Explosions Happen?

The five factors – oxygen, heat, fuel, dispersion, and confinement – are known as the “Dust Explosion Pentagon”. A rapid combustion of dust particles is more likely to happen in a closed area where their concentration in the air is the highest. Keep in mind that secondary explosions could be even more dangerous than the initial ones: they claimed many lives of workers who were not aware of this danger. Why do secondary explosions occur? Because a primary explosion may release more accumulated dust into the air, or may damage a containment system (such as a vessel or a duct), which may cause multiple secondary explosions.

How to Prevent Catastrophic Explosions

OSHA recommends identifying factors that may contribute to an explosion and completing a thorough hazard assessment of all materials handled, all operations conducted (including by-products), all hidden spaces, and all potential ignition sources.

How to Comply with Combustible Dust Standard NFPA 652

The Standard dictates the following 10-step action plan that you need to implement in order to comply:

  1. Detect the combustibility and the explosibility of the materials being handled
  2. Identify fire, flash fire, and explosion hazards
  3. Manage these hazards: considerations must be given to the safety of building and equipment design, house-keeping, PPE, dust control, explosion prevention, protection, isolation, and fire protection.
  4. Educate all employees about the hazards and train them on protective measures
  5. Improve housekeeping procedures: do not clean with compressed air
  6. Use effective dust collection systems
  7. Use venting systems that comply with NFPA 68
  8. Direct exhaust air outside
  9. All central vacuum systems must be equipped with attachments made of static dissipative material, and all vacuum hoses must be grounded
  10. Develop MOC (Management of Change) procedures to be implemented prior to any changes to materials, equipment, technology, or work tasks.

How to Protect Workers: Explosion Prevention and Proper PPE

Unfortunately, combustible dust fires and explosions continue to occur on a regular basis. For example, 14 workers were killed in a sugar dust explosion in Georgia in 2008, and 3 workers were killed in a titanium dust explosion in West Virginia in 2010.

When properly designed, installed and maintained, explosion prevention systems protect well from the explosion hazards posed by combustible dusts. However, these systems provide little protection for the employees being exposed to combustible dust flash fires. Some employers tend to focus on wearing simple PPE (safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves) that only protects workers from easily recognized hazards. OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment Standard (29 CFR 1910.132(d)(1)) requires employers to “assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of PPE.” Often overlooked, Flame-resistant garments (FRGs) and ARC Flash Clothing can help protect employees from thermal and other hazards associated with combustible dust.

A significant portion of industrial explosions and fires are attributed to static electricity: fine dust in grain elevators has been ignited by static electric sparks, coal dust explosions happen in coal mines, and explosions in wood-working facilities have been reported every year. Preventing these explosions is possible by the elimination of static electricity with the help of grounding devices. Heavy-duty grounding clamps and static grounding cable reels from Stewart R. Browne are built for grounding in various industrial applications. These products are designed to prevent static build-up and control static charges in hazardous environments where equipment may be surrounded by dust or flammable liquids.

Additional Resources:

Read our previous blog posts on Arc Flash Clothing and Safety.

Download Combustible Dust poster:

Check out OSHA website: Hazard Communication Guidance for Combustible Dusts

If you have questions or would like help selecting the right PPE, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or visit us online at


Over Complicating Safety

Posted on Saturday, March 11th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

By Brian Mitchell, HSE officer, and drilling consultant

The rig count is climbing once again, and completions activity is increasing. Personnel who have been out of the business for a period of time and new hires are being put to work. With that, many are expressing concerns about restarting effective safety programs and avoiding serious injuries that come with the early stages of a boom.

In 2006 Patterson-UTI had 5 fatalities in 6 days. They did a company-wide safety stand down, and as a third party supervisor, I was required to attend a safety meeting conducted by the regional safety manager. At the beginning of the meeting, he asked the four crews, “Who has more than a year’s experience in the oilfield?” One person raised his hand and he wasn’t a driller. That rig went on to have a number of serious incidents, but no fatalities. They took several kicks, crowned the rig and dropped the blocks to the floor. 2017 may not be that bad, but every new hand and every hand who has been out of operation for a while is at risk.

Safety at work

There is an engineering axiom that simply states – “The more complex the system, the higher the probability of failure.

Anyone who doubts the veracity of this statement has never stood in the door of the VFD House while a tech tries to figure out what is wrong with the Top Drive.

Engineers thrive on complexity to our benefit while a roughneck thrives on practicality and getting things done. Nowhere can this contrast create more problems than in Health, Safety and the Environment. As the rig count begins to tick higher there is a corresponding increase in concern for rig, completions and related safety.

No denying, Safety Engineers have made huge strides forward for the people in the field. The International Association of Drilling Contractors reported prior to the bust of 2015 that since 1968, Lost Time Incidents have declined 98%. Regulatory compliance requires that certified people hold HSE positions. While justified, the policy makes no allowance for the value of experience and outstanding past performance.

Watching a Derrickhand climb to the board I think about how many times I climbed without being tied off or the benefit of a derrick climber. If you were too tired and slow climbing the ladder, the driller would send you to the board on the blocks. Eventually, we started using a belt that had a better chance of breaking your back if you slipped than breaking a fall. I brought a climbing harness I used for rock climbing because it made working in the derrick a little more comfortable. What a far cry from the fall protection on every rig today.

But as with anything that requires an engineering degree, complexity has increased in the safety category to the point that there was this report in eNews from, ”at the 2015 IADC Drilling HSE&T Asia Pacific Conference on March 11 in Kuala Lumpur, Alain Moonen, Manager Wells Safety at Shell, noted that the industry’s safety performance is tailing off even though we are still going in the right general direction. ‘It’s unacceptable that we create an environment where people still get hurt,’ he said.”

HSE has become more complicated with the addition of one more letter to become HSE&T, and presumably another certification to be competent in safety. I’m only guessing the T stands for Training, or is it Technology, or maybe Terminology? I better ask a safety engineer.


Each basin and state has different safety standards and operational procedures, and most companies have specific safety standards. Rig crews often complete classroom, computer-based and field-specific training before they can deploy. The IADC is trying to standardize safety, with most programs oriented to offshore and reacting to the Macondo blowout, and this may not be a good solution. Safety shouldn’t shift to a one size fits all mentality.

Having participated in many different safety programs, I’ve seen which are most effective and which programs aren’t. The trend is always toward increasing complexity. The IADC adds more requirements with every committee meeting, OSHA has historically added more requirements with each passing year and every state regulatory agency is compelled to add standards for compliance as well. Operator safety departments address specific incidents in their operations. While equipment gets safer, the culture of safety becomes more difficult to navigate.

Many of you will recognize a company who uses a “safety wheel” which lines out nine specific safety areas that each rig is to be concerned with. I’ve completed this training with a number of crews and very intelligent hands and attended daily safety meetings where each of these points is highlighted. Yet at the end of the day, even the sharpest men on the rig are hard pressed to recite the entire nine components of that safety program.



ANSI Compliance, Safety and Health for Food Processing

Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

By Samantha Hoch, Marketing, Haws Corp.

From the oil industry to mining, agriculture to research, any working environment that puts employees in close proximity to occupational hazards, such as potentially harmful chemicals, must make workplace safety a priority. The food processing, meatpacking, and poultry processing industries are no exception.

Industry Risks

In addition to physical hazards like high noise levels, cuts, and musculoskeletal disorders, exposure to substances like ammonia, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide can pose another risk to employees in the meatpacking and food processing industries.

In March of 2016, OSHA fined a Texas-based poultry plant for allegedly allowing the release of anhydrous ammonia, a gas commonly used in significant quantities as a refrigerant across a variety of food processing facilities. This colorless gas, classified as hazardous by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, is known to be highly irritating, with a very sharp, suffocating odor. Immediate health effects of exposure to anhydrous ammonia include:

• Burning of the eyes, nose, and throat
• Coughing and choking
• Swelling of the throat and/or chemical burns to the lungs

Prolonged exposure can lead to eye damage, severe burns, and even death.

Another OSHA violation occurred in December 2012, when a food manufacturing facility did not provide an emergency shower or eyewash in the immediate vicinity of a forklift battery charging station.

Meeting the Standard

Immediate first aid for exposure to anhydrous ammonia or battery acid includes providing fresh air and immediate flushing with water for no fewer than 15 minutes. Safety data sheets for many chemicals require that eyewash stations and safety showers are close to the workstation location as a protective measure. And OSHA 29 CFR 19010.151(c) states “where employees were exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body.” This kind of emergency response access necessitates appropriate safety equipment and proper employee training – hallmarks of industry guidelines set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

ANSI Z358.1 is a comprehensive guideline that outlines specific parameters for the appropriate design, installation, performance, certification, use and maintenance of emergency eyewash and shower equipment across a range of industries. Failure to comply with all aspects of ANSI Z358.1 not only puts employees at risk, it opens a facility to potential liabilities and penalties. When working with chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia, taking preventative measures is your safest bet. By supplying the appropriate emergency eyewash and shower equipment, you’ll be able to prevent further injury as well as reduce the risk of OSHA and ANSI non-compliance.

This post was originally published on blog, February 8, 2017.


How Lower Gas Prices Influence Occupational Safety in Oil and Gas Industry

Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average retail price of regular gasoline in the US was $2.24/gallon on August 29, 2016, (the lowest price on Monday before Labor Day since 2004). In spite of the fact that gasoline consumption has been robust in such countries as India, China, and the U.S.A., growth in supply has been steadily outpacing consumption starting from 2015.

Refineries have the ability to adjust petroleum product yields by improving production processes and by upgrading their equipment. In 2015, they have increased production of gasoline to take advantage of high margins. As a result, gasoline production exceeded the growth in gasoline demand, which was followed by the excessively high gasoline inventory levels that remained steadily above 5-year averages and caused the drop in gasoline pricing.

Today, one of the conundrums for experts to solve is how to increase operational efficiency without increasing expenses. The recent collapse of oil and gas prices was followed by the attempts to decrease operational expenses by spending less on safety equipment.

Incidents in Oil and Gas Industry

Oil and gas refinery operation is a complex downstream industrial process which involves a wide range of equipment and materials that create potential dangers for workers. Identifying these hazards and making fundamental changes to ensure safety is critical for preventing injuries and deaths at work. Unfortunately, fires, explosions, and gas leaks are still common at refineries.

Wake-Up Calls:

  • 2015, Upton County, TX oil rig inferno. Reason: absence of personal hydrogen sulfide monitors and not wearing flame-retardant clothing.
  • 2014, Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Reason: not sufficient fire hazard activities at the non-active oil platform.
  • 2013, ExxonMobil refinery caught on flash fire in Beaumont, TX. Reason: employer failed to remove residual stored hazardous energy from the E-1 exchangers to allow for a safe opening of the equipment.
  • 2012, chemical release and fire at Chevron Corp. in Richmond, CA. Reason: failed to upgrade the piping.
  • 2010, a catastrophic BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Reason: a series of mechanical failures and human errors, valuing production over safety.
  • 2009, a deadly accident at Valero Energy’s refinery in Texas City, TX. Reason: a boiler explosion.

These refinery accidents were caused by failure to follow OSHA guidelines, by usage of outdated equipment, or by negligence.

Safety must be a core value and a main concern in the oil and gas industry not only because people’s health and lives are priceless, but also from the financial point of view, as it makes more sense to keep workers and environment safe because eliminating accident consequences is more expensive than preventing them.

Current Trends in Safety Approaches

1. Creating a New Safety Model: involve general public in emergency planning, air quality control, give surrounding communities access to information and data

New regulations to strengthen workplace safety in oil refineries have been recently proposed by California’s Department of Industrial Relations, California Environmental Protection Agency and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The Department of Industrial Relations commissioned the study to assess the impact. The benefits and costs to implement the regulation are addressed in the following two categories: the costs and benefits to the industry and to the society. These initiatives were driven by the fast changing situation in the oil and gas industry and were speeded up by the recent major fire and chemical release in California. Their main purpose is to prevent incidents at refineries and to protect workers and nearby communities from exposure to health risks.

For years, many companies have been implementing exactly the same safety measures and performing exactly the same safety activities, trying to improve safety without taking into consideration rapid advancements in technology and changes in the economy and the environment. In current market conditions, companies should start working together with government agencies to implement the highest possible level of safety culture. To maintain profitability, companies must focus on ensuring consistent safe operations to avoid compliance violations.

Important changes in OSHA regulations regarding severe injuries reports were announced in 2015. The one-year impact evaluation report on the implementation of 2015 OSHA Regulations, (which requires employers to report severe injuries within 24 hours of the incident), shows that employers and employees are more likely to increase efforts to make their work environment safe when they are involved in collaborating with OSHA. Today, instead of sending inspectors to the site where injuries occurred, OSHA responds by providing all the necessary materials to the employers to do their own investigation and to find a solution to the safety problem.

Reports filed by industry sectors in 2016 show that the oil and gas industry has the lowest hospitalization rate of 3% and the lowest amputation rate at 4% among the major sectors. However, OSHA officials are stating that only about 50% of severe injuries have been reported, judging by the number of filed claims and compensation received. Many employers, especially small and medium companies, prefer to hide the problem rather than fix it. Oil and gas industry data shows that safety is the number one priority for the oil and gas industry and safety measures are being implemented successfully in many cases.

2. Adopting the European approach to occupational safety

“U.S. regulators should adopt the approach taken by the U.K. and Norway, in which oil producers are required to prepare detailed analyses and plans prior to obtaining drilling permits,” suggests Tom O’Connor, executive director of the Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH). A new safety model is based on community and worker education and involvement. This new approach emphasizes the importance of the general public’s involvement in emergency planning which could be achieved by providing full access to relevant data and information.

The positive experience of the countries where this safety model has been implemented indicates that their success was based on the presence of several regulatory prerequisites:

  • A designated governmental unit dedicated to enforcement;
  • A sufficient number of inspectors with high competence level for the initial licensing evaluation and audits, that are able to evaluate technical operations, training effectiveness, and safety culture;
  • A dedicated funding source: fees paid by the oil and gas industry;
  • Encourage refinery operators to adopt policies and practices beyond those that are required under the existing law.

3. Showing more willingness to invest in new technology from adjacent industries

“Unlike in the past, the oil and gas industry now embraces emerging technologies from adjacent industries,” said Daniel Choi, Lux research analyst. “Weaker oil prices will likely facilitate the more rapid adoption of new technology, such as fit-for-purpose rigs for onshore drilling. The decline in oil prices could result in companies going either toward doubling down on efficiency imperatives or focusing on technology investment, depending on the exploration and production company’s culture, talent, leadership, play circumstances, and the regulatory regime under which they operate,” said Mike Mueller, vice president of technology development with MicroSeismic.

The following technologies will significantly increase the safety of operations:

  • Automatic tracking of all procedure specifications and tools status parameters,
  • Programmable control and security of pump systems,
  • Automatic security of procedure devices.

New equipment and technologies will require highly-skilled and experienced technical professionals to run them.

4. Developing best practices that allow new technology to get implemented at lower cost

 “Efficiencies have a way of moving through the industry in quicker periods of lower prices,” says R.T. Dukes, an upstream analyst with Wood Mackenzie. “Companies are developing best practices at all times and those practices get implemented faster at lower prices.” A large portion of cost savings to date have come from time saving. Today, preventing incidents compared to just improving emergency response is the best cost-saving strategy.

Oil refinery worker

Facing the Future

By 2020 the worldwide demand for energy is expected to increase by 24%, according to ExxonMobil’s prediction. Although alternative fuel sources have been developed, oil will remain the main source of energy for the nearest future. Since energy is fundamental to our society, the refining will remain crucial to the nation’s economy. Therefore, in the contemporary world, policies that influence energy production should be based not only on what’s good for the industry, but also on understanding what is best for the consumers and for the environment. The oil and gas industry influencers and the community enthusiasts should combine their forces to create a safe environment around refineries without compromising fuel production efficiency.

If you need the expert advice about the best gas detection devices, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at Follow us on Twitter: @PKSafetydotcom.


ANSI Cut Level Testing Updates: Glove Protection Standards Improve

Posted on Monday, October 17th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

The American National Standards Institute and the European Union have developed different standards for cut resistant gloves testing and rating criteria, the purpose of which is to facilitate the classification of cut protective clothing. The United States uses ISEA/ANSI standards, while Europe uses EN certification. The standard has no impact on poking or piercing hazards like needle sticks and sharp corners of the broken glass. Two types of cut testing equipment are used to support these standards: a TDM (Tomodynamometer) and a Couptest.

Per OSHA regulations, the final burden of responsibility concerning cut resistance falls on the employer. In order to make an informed decision about the needed apparel performance and cut level protection, it is important to know that these standards and test methods are not interchangeable, which means if you are comparing products, make sure you compare the ones that were tested using the same test method, or at least keep in mind that these two types of testing and certification standards are different.

The recent changes to ANSI cut resistance standards aim to significantly improve the rating of cut protection at a workplace, especially on the higher range of the cut-resistance scale. The increased number of cut levels from five to nine (A1-A9) will provide a more detailed classification and will make it easier for the PPE manufacturer to classify their products. These changes will also allow the employers to speed up the process of finding the best fit for their cut-protection applications.

An overview of the test standards and methods for measuring cut resistance:



This test method is now the only one that is recognized by the ANSI/ISEA 105 Handbook. The new ASTM F2992-15 test method allows for only the TDM-100 machine to be used in simulating an accidental cut or slash with a sharp object since this machine generally produces more consistent results. The test measures weight in grams necessary to cut through the material when applied to a razor blade tested over approximately a 1-inch distance. The sample is cut by a straight-edge blade, under load, that moves along a straight path, and is cut five times each at three different loads. The data from these cuts is used to determine the required load to cut through the sample at a specified reference distance. Depending on the results, the glove made with this material will be given a rating between A1 and A9.

EN 388

EN 388

The European standard for protective gloves against mechanical hazards uses the Couptest cut machine. A circular blade, under a fixed load of 500 grams, moves back and forth across the sample until cut-through is achieved. A cotton canvas fabric is used as a reference material. The reference material and the test sample are cut until at least 5 results are obtained. The cut resistance is a ratio of the number of cycles needed to cut through the test sample vs. the reference material. The Couptest is not recommended for rating the high cut-resistant material that dulls the blade quickly (for example, glass fiber, para-aramid, etc.) resulting in an inaccurate representation of the protection capability of such materials.

In summary, before continuing with a purchase decision while discussing the product performance levels with sales representatives to determine what product fits best for your needs, make sure you clarify which standard was used to classify the product, and if it is suitable for your particular application and work environment. Also, request a trial sample of the gloves you intend to buy. Ask your employees to test-drive these gloves and to provide you feedback about their performance. Testing a product against worksite hazards at your workplace is vital to the success of your PPE program.

Once the new cut level testing methods are fully implemented across safety glove brands (they are required already as of 2016), it will allow for a higher level of accuracy and a broader range in glove testing capability. This will in turn eliminate the gaps between cut levels that existed under the old classification, and result in achieving a better hand and arm protection and in a decrease in occupational injuries, since it will be easier and faster for manufacturers to classify their products and for the distributors and customers to find a perfect solution for their specific applications.

To learn more about the new classification standards, read our previous blog post:
Understanding the New ANSI/ISEA 105 (2016) Hand and Arm Protection Cut Level Classification

If you have questions or need help finding the right hand protection solution, please feel free to call us at 800-829-9580, or visit us online at


Allegro Constant Flow Respiratory Protection

Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

Providing workers with clean breathable fresh air while working in dangerous environments is essential. According to OSHA, “Employees need to wear respirators whenever engineering and work practice control measures are not adequate to prevent atmospheric contamination at the worksite.” Respiratory protective devices must be approved by NIOSH for the contaminant to which the employee is exposed.

Advantages of Constant Flow Respirators:

  • Low cost
  • Reusable
  • Constant supply of fresh air
  • Low breathing resistance
  • Increased worker production
  • No cartridge change outs or having to schedule maintenance
  • No fit testing
  • Minimal paperwork to maintain
  • Air temperature controllers available
  • Pump and filtration panel options can be used with half mask, full face, soft and hard hood styles

If you have a job that involves spray painting, chemical handling or mixing, construction, spray foam application, or light grinding, here are two reliable solutions from Allegro to provide healthy air to you in the workplace:

1. Ambient Air Pump A-750 by Allegro

Ambient Air Pump A-750 by Allegro

Ambient Air Pump A-750 is a rotary vane, extra portable and lightweight air source for one hood user or for two full- or half-face respirator users. The benefit of this device being lightweight and portable is that it has the flexibility to be used at multiple sites, and be easily stored when not in use. Another advantage of this oil-less pump is that it does not produce any carbon monoxide, oil vapor or oil mist. Inlet and discharge filters need to be changed every 200 running hours or if the pressure gauge shows a drop in pressure. Carbon vanes should be replaced every 4000-5000 running hours.

Low-pressure ambient air pumps differ from air filtration units in that they are electrically driven, oil-less compressors–and are usually placed in locations with fresh air away from work areas. This pump is designed to move air through a hose to a breathing area. This is why it is important for the air inlet to be located where the breathable air is supplied at all times. Air delivery can be adjusted via the brass pressure relief valve. The steel handle offers protection for the pressure gauge in case the unit tips over. The device pumps the existing air but does not provide an independent air supply, that is why it is not recommended for use in extremely hot or cold environments, as the air temperature cannot be changed. The longer airline will help cool the air. Ambient Air Pumps are not intended to be used with generators, and Vortex coolers. Fittings for other brands respirators can be swapped out for free.

The ambient air pump is only designed for use with constant flow respirators and does not have the psi or CFM capabilities to run a pressure demand respirator. It is not approved for an IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life and Health) application. Respirators receive air from an ambient air pump that draws in fresh air from wherever it is located and sends it to the respirator. The pump should be located away from any area where vehicles may pass by or stop and stay idle. In can be used in medical facilities while mixing chemicals or cleaning the rooms, in pesticide operations when handling chemicals and spraying, in foundries, etc.

Other possible applications include: spray painting, spray coating, fiberglass coating, pharmaceutical manufacturing, spray foam, chemical handling and mixing, pesticide operations, light grinding, medical facilities, foundries, building, construction, restoration. When placed in a clean air environment, pumps offer a low-cost alternative of supplying clean, breathable air to respirator wearers working in contaminated environments. Air pumps do not require temperature alarms, CO monitors or airline filters, so they are considered to be a cost-effective way of providing air supply.

2. Air Filtration Panel 9872 by Allegro

Air Filtration Panel 9872 by Allegro

Air Filtration Panel 9872 filters out impurities (most particles, fumes, moisture, hydrocarbons) from an air compressor and converts it into the grade D breathable air. The panel provides up to 30 CFM of air within a 5-125 PSI range. It is housed in a Pelican case with a carrying handle and latches and offers a 16 gauge powder-coated steel stand for support, and all-brass plumbing with quick-disconnect Hansen couplers. You may use NIOSH-approved constant flow and pressure–demand respirators with this panel. However, it is important to know that you cannot mix an airline and a respirator from different manufacturers. Most types of compressors (piston, screw, rotary vane) are suitable to supply air for this type of application. On the inlet side, you can use a pre-filter to filter out larger particles. On a discharge side, you may use an Allegro Vortex cooler or a temperature controller, when used with the Allegro Fully Disposable Hoods. There is an optional Remote CO alarm (P/N 9871-01), a remote Point of Attachment (P/N 9871-03), which will extend the airline length. The maximum length of breathing airline is up to 300 feet.

Wearing respiratory protection may seem inconvenient, but airborne particles and contaminants – no matter how small – can cause both short-term and long-term health problems if proper use and care are not exercised.

If you have questions or would like help selecting the right equipment for your application, please give us a call at 1-800-829-9580, or visit us online at


4 Great Reasons to Get Your Petzl Gear at PK Safety

Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 by Gigi K.

Reason #1: Petzl gear is a highly respected brand in the climbing industry for quality and reliability. It will keep you alive, and it’s 25% off at PK Safety. Petzl equipment has been thoroughly tested, re-tested, and meets the relevant certifications as well as the approval of rope access experts around the world. That is two things in our first reason, but how can you afford to buy anything less than the best for your dangerous work and climbing?

Reason #2: Free shipping. If your order is over $99, we’ll cover the shipping. So whether you need a bunch of OXAN Steel Carabiners or an  AVAO Harness, we’ll put that order together and ship it out right away – for free!

Reason #3: Because of us. We are really nice, honest, knowledgeable, and easy to deal with (not to mention modest!) We work hard to make sure you get what you need, and get it when you expect it. You can count on us to get your Petzl equipment to you and answer any questions you may have. Feel free to give us a ring at 1-800-829-9580, or contact us online at and we will be happy to help you out.

Reason #4: Timing is everything. Doesn’t it feel better to get a great deal? PK Safety is taking 25% off all our amazing Petzl equipment through October 4th. Petzl equipment doesn’t go on sale often, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

If you have questions that our 4 Great Reasons to Buy Petzl From PK Safety didn’t cover, please give us a ring or contact us online Monday through Friday 7am – 5pm PST.


OSHA: the New Construction Rule and the General Confined Space Rule

Posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 by Mila Adamovica

By Mario Mendoza, Regional Sales Manager, Allegro Industries

On May 4, 2015, OSHA issued a new standard for construction work in confined space. There are five key differences from the Construction Rule, and several areas where OSHA has clarified existing requirements.

The five new requirements include:

  1. More detailed provisions requiring coordinated activities when there are multiple employers at the worksite. This will ensure hazards are not introduced into a confined space by workers performing tasks outside the space. An example would be a generator running near the entrance of a confined space causing a buildup of carbon monoxide within the space.
  2. Requiring a competent person to evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces, including permit spaces.
  3. Requiring continuous atmospheric monitoring whenever possible.
  4. Requiring continuous monitoring of engulfment hazards. For example, when workers are performing work in a storm sewer, a storm upstream from the workers could cause flash flooding. An electronic sensor or observer posted upstream from the work site could alert workers in the space at the first sign of the hazard, giving the workers time to evacuate the space safely.
  5. Allowing for the suspension of a permit, instead of cancellation, in the event of changes from the entry conditions list on the permit or an unexpected event requiring evacuation of the space. The space must be returned to the entry conditions listed on the permit before re-entry.

In addition, OSHA has added provisions to the new rule that clarifies existing requirements in the General Industry standard.

These include:

  1. Requiring that employers who direct workers to enter a space without using a complete permit system prevent workers’ exposure to physical hazards through elimination of the hazard or isolation methods such as lockout/tagout.
  2. Requiring that employers who are relying on local emergency services for emergency services arrange for responders to give the employer advance notice if they will be unable to respond for a period of time (because they are responding to another emergency, attending department-wide training, etc.).
  3. Requiring employers to provide training in a language and vocabulary that the worker understands.

Finally, several terms have been added to the definitions for the construction rule, such as “entry employer” to describe the employer who directs workers to enter a space, and “entry rescue”, added to clarify the differences in the types of rescue employers can use.

If you have questions about the right PPE for your specific applications, please contact one of PK Safety Customer Service folks at 800-829-9580, or visit


OSHA Update: Fine Increases in 2016

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 by Analisa H.

For the first time in 25 years, OSHA will be increasing its penalties. This change is a catch-up adjustment since it has been so many years since the organization has increased fines. Violation fees are expected to go into effect by August 1, 2016.

2016 penalty increases include:

Violation Type Current Maximum Penalty 2016 Maximum Penalty*
Other than Serious Violations $7,000 $12,600
Serious Violation $7,000 $12,600
Willful Violation $70,000 $126,000
Repeat Violation $70,000 $126,000

*Shared by OSHA Training Institute Educational Center

The new change comes after a budget deal passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on November 2, 2015. Going forward, potential fine increases may occur no later than January 15 of each year. OSHA can choose to increase the above penalties less than the maximum amount for one of two reasons:

  • If the increase would have a negative effect on the economy
  • If the full increase would result in social costs that outweigh the benefits of the increase

You can ensure your workplace safety programs and equipment are meeting OSHA standards by doing the following:

  • Confirm employee training is comprehensive and documented
  • Access workplaces for potential hazards and address them
  • Address employee safety concerns
  • Confirm existing safety equipment is fully functioning and compliant

If your business or organization currently doesn’t have a safety program in place, consider creating and implementing one. Check out these health and safety programs and guidelines offered by OSHA to help prevent and control workplace hazards.

Should you have any questions, we’re here to help! Give our safety experts a call at 800-829-9580 to answer your questions or help you with your safety plan.