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.
Check out their website at https://www.esfi.org/.
There is even a kid’s page at http://kids.esfi.org/
National Electrical Safety Month – NESM is observed every year in May. This year’s theme is “Understanding the Code that Keeps Us Continue Reading…
Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has designated the week of October 8th as Fire Prevention Week. This date was chosen as the Great Chicago fire started on October 8, 1871. Each year a theme for the week is chosen in an effort to keep fire safety present in people’s minds. This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” An explanation of the theme is best explained by a video from Sparky, The Fire Dog.
Here are some statistics from a recent survey conducted by the NFPA. About one in every 338 homes had a fire each year from 2010 to 2014. For most of those years the second leading cause of fires in homes and fire deaths/injuries is heating equipment. In terms of escape planning, only about a third of the US has developed and practiced a home escape plan. Also, many people believe they would have 6 minutes before a home fire could become life threatening when in reality the time is much shorter. The most shocking statistic of all was that only 8% of those surveyed indicated that when hearing a fire alarm their first thought was to leave the home or building. These are numbers we cannot deny and should all consider.
So, what can you do? Here are some ideas from NFPA to use during Continue Reading…
Springtime Fire Safety
It is that time of year again, where we all lose an hour in our day. The good news is that we also gain an hour of daylight, and it means that warmer weather is just around the corner.
Many organizations including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggest taking the time to also check smoke alarms. The NFPA states:
Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or working smoke alarms. When smoke alarms should have worked but failed to operate, it is usually because batteries were missing, disconnected, or dead. NFPA provides the following guidelines around smoke alarms:
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
- Replace the smoke alarm immediately if it doesn’t respond properly when tested.
- Smoke alarms with nonreplaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, a warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
- For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year. If the alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
Also, take time to make sure your fire extinguishers are in Continue Reading…
The calendar on my wall tells me it is November which means life has moved into the last days of autumn. When I walk outside now, it isn’t to see the green grass and smell flowers that were planted, but to hear the crunch of leaves underfoot and feel the brisk air brush my face. Many call me crazy but it is true – I love this time of year.
What does that mean for safety though? Are there things that happen now that impact safety? The short answer – yes.
Various agencies such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Fire Protection Association and the National Safety Council publish hints and lists for fall as reminders of things to keep in mind. Let’s go over a few of the more common items.
- Take steps to prevent the cold and flu:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds
- If that isn’t an option then alcohol-based hand sanitizer is OK
- Get your flu shot
- If you are sick, stay at home
- Know when antibiotics are needed (antibiotics are not effective against viruses like the common cold and the flu)
- Test and/or replace batteries:
- Replace the alkaline batteries that are a part of most smoke/fire alarms. These should also be checked for functionality at least once per month
- Check the batteries in all Continue Reading…
In October of 1871, the Great Chicago Fire occurred. It raged for almost two days, killing many and leaving even more without homes. There are many stories and legends about how it was started. The most famous is that of Mrs. O’Leary and her cow. The lyrics of the song many will remember from childhood.
Late last night when we were all in bed,
Old Lady Leary left a lantern in the shed.
Well a cow kicked it over, winked his eye and said:
There’s gonna be a hot time in the old town tonight!
Fire! Fire! Fire!
While those lyrics are often sung as part of a children’s song, there is no denying the damage done during those two days. October is now known as National Fire Prevention Month dating as far back as 1922. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has designated the week of October 9th as Fire Prevention Week. This date was chosen as the Chicago fire started on the night of October 8th, but did most of its damage on October 9th.
The NFPA website provides some frightening statistics about home fires including:
- Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep.
- One quarter of home fire deaths were caused by fires that started in the bedroom.
- Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with Continue Reading…
A Personal Account
The Fourth of July can be a fun time with great memories to be made. One of my fondest memories, not really, is a party I attended in 1997. It was the summer I had graduated from high school. It was time for warm weather in Western New York, a season of fun in the sun, graduation parties galore and time with friends and family.
It was early in the evening that July 4th. I had picked up a few of my girlfriends. The warm summer air kissed our skin as we opened the sunroof on my ’94 Dodge Shadow painted a custom diamond flake pearl, turned up the radio with connected bass tube and drove to the party. Girls just want to have fun, right! As we pulled up to the home where the party was being held there were a ton of people around. In the front yard, back yard and house friends were laughing and enjoying each other’s company and music. Most were gripping red plastic cups.
As we got out of my car, my friends and I approached a group at the front porch. As we greeted everyone the host asked if I would like a drink. Of course, I graciously accepted, at which time the host reached out to me and asked “Here, can you hold this for a minute?” I Continue Reading…
NFPA has initiated an awareness campaign on dangers of storing flammable/combustible liquids in composite intermediate bulk containers (IBC)…
Earlier this month the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) launched a campaign to raise awareness regarding the fire risk posed by indoor storage of flammable or combustible liquids in IBC.
The hazards are considered particularly significant in plastic or the ubiquitous composite (“bottle-in-cage”- UN 31H’Z’1 type) IBC. These containers may not provide resistance under fire conditions and can release significant volumes of liquid; as well as the plastic itself subsequently contributing to the fire. The resulting intensity of heat may overwhelm fire protection systems and lead to catastrophic events in storage/processing buildings.
Although IBC may be “authorized” for shipping flammable/combustible liquids under transportation regulations, these approvals do not automatically extend to storage which is under the jurisdiction of other agencies. The UN standards on the design, testing and use of IBC do not specifically address fire resistance testing of IBC as part of the protocol. While in general PG I, and some PG II, Class 3 substances may not be transported in IBC, the testing required to qualify as UN standardized packaging are based on strength performance testing.
Many North American jurisdictions recognize or reference NFPA standards in their Fire Codes or other safety standards. In addition, insurance and loss prevention organizations may have restrictions similar to NFPA 30 (Flammable & Continue Reading…
Now that OSHA has revised the Hazard Communication Standard to align with GHS, the question many employers, chemical manufacturers, distributors and end users have is: Will I be able to continue to use my NFPA and HMIS labeling systems?
The answer is yes . . . But they may cause confusion. The question becomes not whether you can, but whether you should.
First, let’s look at the old standard’s requirements. In the old standard (pre-HazCom 2012), labels (and labeltext) on shipped containers and workplace labels were performance based. That means OSHA didn’t say exactly what had to appear on the labels. Instead, it said what effect the labels had to achieve; OSHA’s goal: to successfully transmit hazard information to the end user.
Many companies adopted either the NFPA or HMIS system for workplace labeling. Both systems are simple and effective. A criteria was established to identify the health, physical, reactivity and personal protective equipment that was required. A numerical system from 0-4 identified the hazard from lowest (0) to worst (4).
Simple right? Well it was until HazCom 2012 adopted the GHS recommendations and added health and physical criteria and categories. Now, a chemical that was previously a number “1” meaning it had a low hazard, is now a “4” meaning it has a low hazard.
What’s an employer to do? If you have used a number based workplace system in Continue Reading…
As everyone gathers to enjoy time with friends and family for the 4th of July, it is important to remember that one of our favorite traditions can be dangerous. There are hundreds of injuries and fatalities each year due to fireworks.
“Fireworks on the Fourth of July are an American tradition,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We want to make sure the traveling public and commercial operators know how to safely transport fireworks so we can all enjoy these colorful displays, both small and large.”
Fireworks are regulated under the hazardous materials regulations. They are a class 1.4G explosive. When transporting fireworks, you must follow the rules as outlined in the regulations including: shipping papers, loading/blocking/bracing, placarding, security plans and you must be a trained person. Workplaces must also meet the requirements under the OSHA regulations, including personal protective equipment and the use of fire extinguishers.
There is a variety of guidance documents available to keep you, your family and your employees safe. Keep safety in mind so everyone has an enjoyable holiday.
OSHA’s Guidelines for the Pyrotechnics Industry – Fireworks Display
Industry Alert for Fireworks Shippers, Distributors, and Carriers
The new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS) is now ready for worldwide implementation. Many countries have already adopted the GHS, while the USA and Canada are just beginning the task of harmonizing existing regulatory regimes within the GHS framework. Whereas the question on most people’s minds these days is “When will GHS be implemented?” concern should focus on how GHS will affect our commerce and safety in our workplaces. Target audiences for the GHS include consumers, workers, and emergency responders. GHS will benefit these folks. Though for the employer or Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Manager, once you’ve educated yourself in GHS principles, expect to spend much time sifting through the data needed to correctly categorize chemicals and their mixtures per the new GHS criteria. You should also expect to spend much money and time applying new GHS labels to chemical containers, reformat existing MSDSs to the sixteen sections Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and retrain workers how to interpret GHS hazard information. Do not expect a GHS shift to magically make your workplace safer, since GHS is not intended to harmonize risk assessment procedures or risk management. This gradual process of GHS assimilation should however eventually help in the decisions process.
The advantage of GHS is the way it identifies the intrinsic hazards found in chemical substances and mixtures and conveys this hazard information Continue Reading…