If you have seen the news, recently a cellphone aboard an airplane caught fire before take-off, leading to an evacuation (FOX News).
When I first saw this story, I was grateful that this event took place before the airplane took off and they were able to get everyone off of the airplane safely. But a few questions arose, what if it happened in the air, and what if it happened to a laptop computer in cargo? Well, regulators had previously believed that a flame-retardant gas required in airliner cargo holds would be able to suppress any type of single lithium battery fire. This gas, called halon is a liquefied, compressed gas that can stop the spread of fire by chemically disrupting its combustion.
However, recent tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration found the halon gas suppression systems can’t put out a battery fire once it combines with other highly flammable material, such as the gas in an aerosol can or cosmetics. The potential dangerous combination can cause flames to spread, overwhelming the fire suppression systems in airplane cargo holds, meaning it is possible under the right circumstances that a single laptop battery could catch fire and cause an airliner to crash. The possibility is such a concern that the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the biggest pilot union in North America, is now thinking Continue Reading…
It is always a great time when a bunch of safety professionals get together to chat. This happened this past weekend when several of us in the field ended up on someone’s back patio. There were five of us discussing what we see at various facilities. A topic that was recurrent throughout was Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) particularly eye protection. This got me to thinking about how ICC can help get the word out about this. Oddly enough, August is National Eye Exam Month. Let’s put these two together and see what happens.
Back in 1989, Sears Optical created National Eye Exam Month. Many ophthalmologists and optometrists take this time to focus on eye safety. Just for general knowledge, an ophthalmologist is someone who specializes in medical and surgical eye disease, whereas an optometrist is a medical doctor who specialist in eye and vision care. Most of us spend at least 40 hours at work a week with many doing more. A large number of us work at computers, outside or even near chemicals. This puts stress on our eyes. Depending on your age, an eye exam could be useful even if you have no symptoms. The American Optometric Association provides some basic guidelines around when to get an exam.
We have another Friday the 13th in July. Let’s take a look at a few more superstitions to see how they might impact safety in the workplace and home. As a reminder, a superstition for the purpose of this blog is a belief or notion that while irrational and not scientific seem to persist in society.
A black cat crossing your path brings bad luck
While many ancient civilizations held cats in high esteem like the Egyptians, there are others who feared them. In the Middle Ages people were very afraid of witches and magic. Throughout that craze, the belief was a witch could disguise or transform herself into a cat. The cat could then move more easily around a town causing mischief and mayhem. Cats were often blamed for disease outbreaks such as the plague.
Many sites have certain cleanliness standards. Those standards could include washing hands before and after work or leaving contaminated clothing at the facility. Now those rules don’t speak specifically to black cats, but you get my meaning. There is certainly nothing in any regulations in regards to having animals at home where they are often kept as pets. Certain city rules may limit the number of animals you can have or bans against certain breeds. I won’t go into my personal opinion on that topic. Animals at home just need to be taken care Continue Reading…
If you have followed my blogs for any length of time you know both my husband and myself are in the safety field. Several of our friends are as well. Inevitably when we are together the talk will come back to work. Of particular interest are the safety issues we notice on a daily basis. It could be people not wearing the appropriate PPE or standing on a stool to reach something in a cabinet. We then get into some of the unsafe things we see outside of work. This includes drivers on cell phones. By the end of the conversation, we are simply bewildered at how unaware people are about safety.
Take heart though, there is a month dedicated to the safety cause. June is National Safety Month. This year’s theme is “No 1 Gets Hurt”.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has outlined topics for each week of the month to be used at work and home. They even provide free downloadable resources in English and Spanish for each topic upon signup. I encourage you to do so as the resources are great. The link to the NSC site can be found here. Right in the middle of the page is a link for you to get your own materials. All you have to do is register. Let’s take a look at each Continue Reading…
Back in the 14th century, sailing ships were a primary means of trading goods. To protect goods on these vessels they were insured against loss or damage. The best news for the insurance companies was to receive word that the ship had returned “safe and sound”. The word “safe” was an indication of all crew members were accounted for without injury. The word “sound” told the company the ship had not suffered any serious damage. Since then we continue to use the phrase in our daily life.
The week of August 13-19 has been designated as Nationwide Safe + Sound Week for 2018. The week is presented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Safety Council, American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) just to name a few. The goal is to “raise awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs“. All business and companies are encouraged to participate because “safe workplaces are sound business“.
The Core Elements of Safe + Sound Week
The focus of the week is on three core elements. It covers management leadership, worker participation and find and fix hazards.
Management leadership is a demonstrated commitment at the highest levels of an organization to safety and health. It means that business owners, executives, managers, and supervisors make safety Continue Reading…
Here are three new acronyms for you to keep in mind during the month of May. There is NEC which is for the National Electric Code. Next is ESFI an acronym representing the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Finally, there is NESM used for National Electrical Safety Month which just so happens to be in May. Now that we know what they stand for, let’s talk about what they do or mean.
The NEC is a standard used for safely installing wiring and equipment. Many people know it as NFPA 70 – a part of the National Fire Protection Association. While not a legally binding standard it is used by many to set safe practices for those using or working with electricity. The NEC is updated every 3 years and is usually adopted by a state or city.
ESFI is a foundation that was created in 1994 to promote electrical safety in all areas of life including the home and workplace. They work with corporations and the public to prevent electrical fires and injuries. This is done by providing educational tools, materials and resources. They have information on general electrical safety, electric shock drowning and overhead power lines.
On a winter’s day in February, 1891, my great-grandfather was working in a coal mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia, when in an instant his world changed. An explosion deep in the mine erupted, sending fire sweeping through the tunnels. About 125 of his friends and coworkers died that day. With the rest of the community, he helped carry out the dead from the shattered pits. The story passed down in my family how he found the worst was carrying out the bodies of the children, some as young as ten, who worked beside him in the mine.
How Did This Happen?
How did this disaster happen? The inquiry never reached a firm conclusion, but such incidents were common in those days, when mines filled with coal dust were time bombs waiting for a spark. One might think the mine operators would have learned, but two more high-fatality accidents happened in Springhill (1956 and 1958), before the mine was closed for good.
In some ways, we live in a lucky era. Most of us who go to work each day expect to return home alive and well. Historically, though, the workplace could be a deathtrap. Although even the earliest farming and gathering communities faced hazards, the Industrial Revolution brought more people into contact with dangerous working conditions than ever. Workers in factories could be Continue Reading…
Recently in my travels, I found myself stuck in a long security line at our local airport. Being that it was during Spring Break, there was a wide variety of travelers from college students to retirees looking to re-connect with family. Although there were people of all ages and travel experience they all seemed to have one thing in common, they were confused how to travel with their laptop computers and other types of portable electronics containing lithium batteries. Let’s discuss some general guidance on how to travel with specific portable electronics that contain lithium batteries referencing some recently issued documents by IATA.
Portable Electronic Devices including electronics such as cameras, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets containing batteries carried by passengers for personal use should be carried in carry-on baggage.
For devices that can be packed in checked baggage:
The device must be protected from damage and to prevent unintentional activation;
The device must be completely turned off (not in sleep or hibernation mode).
Spare lithium batteries
Each spare battery must be individually protected to prevent short circuits by placing them in the original retail packaging or by otherwise insulating terminals by taping over exposed terminals or simply placing each battery in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch and carried in carry-on baggage only. Items that contain Continue Reading…
Welcome back to the Regulatory Helpdesk where we answer your dangerous goods & hazmat questions. We’re here to help you become independent with – and understand the whys and hows – of the regulations.
Why do I need an SDS for a Laptop Battery?
Q. We are shipping used laptops with batteries in the units from the US to HK via air. There are multiple manufacturers and models, are (M)SDS sheets required for each model? Our forwarder is requesting them in order to provide pricing.
A. To answer your question, it would depend on why the forwarder is requesting them. They may be asking for them to meet the written emergency response requirements. However, they could be asking for them for classification purposes to prove which part of the packing instructions these meet.
The SDS could tell them the watt-hour rating which would then drive which part of the instruction to use. Forwarders and carriers have a lot of leeway. I can only speak to what the regulations say. There is nothing in 49 CFR or IATA that indicates you must use an SDS. Most people tend to default to them because they meet so many parts of the regulations in one place.
Manufacturer’s Packaging (Lithium Battery)
Q. Should I remove the manufacturer’s packaging from lithium ion batteries being shipped by air under PI 965 Continue Reading…
The Emergency Response Guidebook published by the US Department of Transportation, developed jointly with Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Transport and Communications is used by firefighters, police, and other emergency response personnel who may be the first to arrive on the scene of a transportation incident regarding dangerous goods/hazardous materials.
The primary purpose of the Guide is to provide immediate information regarding the chemical, therefore allowing them to take appropriate action to protect themselves and the general public.
Changes and Updates You Should Know About:
The 2016 edition includes changes such as:
Expanded/Revised sections on:
How to use this guidebook (flowchart)
Table of placards and markings
Rail car/road trailer identification charts
ER telephone numbers
New Sections include:
Table of contents
Information on GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and labeling of Chemicals)
Information about ERAP (Emergency Response Assistance Plans)