Two months after an explosion occurred in West, Texas at a fertilizer plant, another accident investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is underway after an explosion in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. On Friday, June 14 2013, an explosion occurred at the CF Industries chemical plant killing one person and injuring seven. The company manufactures nitrogen and is the leading supplier of nitrogen in the world. A news release distributed by the company reported the explosion occurred in an area that was closed for maintenance. Allegedly, workers pumped too much nitrogen in a vessel causing an immediate nitrogen hazard, and it to ruptured. Coincidentally, a petrochemical plant exploded in Geismar, Louisiana on June 13th, a day before the CF Industries incident. The Geismar explosion killed two people and injured 73.
In 2000, OSHA fined CF Industries after an explosion occurred in the ammonia section of the plant killing three workers and injuring eight. Nitrogen hazards are among the most common chemical hazards and the least inspected. Records indicate the Geismar plant had not been inspected in nearly twenty tears. OSHA came under scrutiny after the West, Texas explosion because the plant had not been inspected since 1985 for nitrogen hazard situation or any other safety protocols. OSHA is currently conducting an investigation at the CF Industries plant in an effort to uncover the root cause of the explosion. Additionally, CF Industries has hired a third party company to help determine the cause of the incident. According to news reports, Louisiana has experienced at least two other explosions in chemical facilities in the last two years.
Site managers should incorporate explosion safety tips in their workplace safety plan, and complete an 8-hour annual hazwoper refresher course. Safety precautions should be addressed before an emergency occurs. Workers should consider the following basic safety tips regarding explosions.
- After an explosion occurs, everyone should move to a safe area.
- Follow your fire safety plan especially information related to exiting the building.
- As you exit the building, use a cloth to breathe, if possible (preferably a wet cloth).
- First aid kits should be placed in various places around your work space for quick and easy access. Inform all workers about the location of the kits.
There are many OSHA health hazards on construction sights, but a bee hazard is often overlooked and underestimated. Hazwoper training covers all types of OSHA safety and health hazards, though bees are probably one that doesn’t heed much attention. It’s important to identify a potential bee hazard before beginning site work.
A construction crew recently found out how painful a bee hazard can be, when six Los Angeles, California construction workers were stung by a swarm of bees while working at a construction site. The incident occurred at a Wilshire Center apartment building undergoing renovations. Officials felt the incident was severe enough to close streets located near the apartment complex.
The bees were living inside the walls of the apartment building. A pre-site check out failed to find the bee hazard. Workers were opening the walls of the building when they struck a hive. One of the construction workers was stung more than 12 times.
A bee hazard can pose a significant safety risk to workers in the area. Bees can be easily disturbed. he result is a high quantity of the insects attacking the offending party in high numbers that can cause repeated stings. Those workers that are allergic to bee strings, can be overwhelmed so quickly that they go into anaphylactic shock. If not rushed to a hospital within a few minutes the worker can die. Even if a person isn’t particularly allergic, multiple bee stings can result in nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fainting.
Spring and summer are active seasons for honey bees. Honey bees are not aggressive and will not sting unless threatened. A honey bee colony consists of thousands of bees. Experts estimate it would take approximately 1100 honey bee stings to be fatal.
Construction workers should consider the following safety tips when working outdoors.
- Before you start work, inspect the construction site for potential issues.
- Bees are sensitive to odors. When working outdoors, do not wear perfumes or aftershave.
- Pay close attention to the behavior of bees. Many times they will warn you that you are too close to their hive by flying at your face or over your head.
- Be alert. Watch for bees entering and exiting over such areas as a crack in a wall or above a door.
- Attempt to cover yourself as much as possible especially the facial area, when running away from bees.
- Contact a professional pest control or bee removal company to eliminate the hive.
- During a bee attack seek shelter immediately
- Stay away from bee hives. Do not disturb the hive.
- If stung, workers should seek medical attention especially if dizzy or nauseated.