College of Engineering Safety Think Safety and the Environment First

Title Photo by Juanita Miller
January 9, 2017

From: BBC World News

Giant wire spool rolls down Pennsylvania motorway

Watch this video to see what happens when a load with spools of wire is not secure (video). Looks like the “stuck-by” hazards were avoided that day!

December 16, 2015


Don’t Drink the Water, Corpus Christi, Texas

The latest reports from Corpus Christi indicate that a petroleum product Indulin AA-86 was introduced to the potable (drinking) water system and contaminated the supply for 300,000 people. This is resulting in residents being unable to use the water supply for drinking, bathing and even washing clothes. The source is reported to be a malfunctioning backflow preventer.

A backflow preventer is supposed to act exactly as its name describes. It should prevent backflow of polluted water into the supply system. These devices are required on potable water systems by state and local codes. They are also recommended on process systems to prevent un-wanted contamination of feed stocks. A backflow preventer can be a simple single check valve or can be a double check style. These valves can be a simple swing check, slow closing swing check or diaphragm valve. Be sure to check state and local codes for valve requirements for potable water systems because these can vary. The check valve should be designed to be easily serviced without removing the valve from the piping line. Double block valves should be installed to allow the service the check valve with the water flow disabled. Shown here, is a cut away of a double check valve with block valves, based on Zurn Model 450.

Check valves, like all valves do require maintenance and can fail when neglected or subject to harsh conditions such as water with high mineral content. So the valves should be placed on a preventative maintenance schedule to verify that seats, seals, springs, elastomeric parts etc. are in good condition and functioning properly.

The Corpus Christi incident shows why everyone needs to take responsibility for maintaining their connections to the community water supply. The cost associated with supplying bottled water to residents and cleaning up the water supply system (piping, pumps, storage tanks etc.) will likely run many thousands of dollars. And the regulatory agency fines (TCEQ etc.) associated with this incident will probably run many thousand dollars more. In view of this, the cost of maintaining the connections to the potable water system is very cheap. So know your system and maintain it to prevent disasters like this one.

More details from Corpus Christi see:


November 3, 2016

Beware of diacetyl used in food manufacturing of Coffee, Popcorn and more


In an article from ISHN, NIOSH is recommending exposure limits for diacetyl at 5 parts per billion (ppb) TWA over a 40 hour work week with a STEL of 25 ppb for 15 minutes. (Wow, that’s really a small amount!)

“Diacetyl occurs naturally in coffee roasting and is released in higher concentrations when the beans are ground or storage bins are opened. It’s also produced synthetically and added to all kinds of foods and drinks to impart a buttery, creamy flavor. The FDA has deemed diacetyl safe to consume in trace amounts, but inhaling it has proven deadly. Diacetyl attacks and inflames the lung’s smallest airways, leading to scar tissue build-up that blocks airflow. The damage is permanent. Exposure can also cause eye and skin irritation and other respiratory illness.

In the early and mid-2000s, scientists linked diacetyl to several deaths and hundreds of injuries to workers in microwave popcorn factories in Missouri, California, Illinois and elsewhere.” (Read more)


October 18, 2016

EPA Begins $3M Cleanup at Site of California Magnesium Fire

From the Associated Press

“… a metal-recycling plant containing 10,000 pounds of magnesium shavings. The magnesium erupted in fireball-like explosions when firefighters poured water on the flames. Crews had to use a dry chemical extinguishing agent.” Read More


September 22, 2016

What a button battery can do to a child’s throat



From BBC News “Medical correspondent Fergus Walsh demonstrates what can happen if a button battery gets lodged in a child’s throat, after a warning from surgeons over the dangers.”

(Watch the video demonstration)


September 15, 2016

There’s growing demand for women’s PPE

Excerpted from ISHN website: “Today, the number of women holding industrial occupations has continued to grow and so has the need to ensure that female workers have PPE that fits correctly. In fact, according to a 2014 report by the American Petroleum Institute, women account for approximately 19 percent of employment in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry. Women also comprise 22.4 percent of the total employment in the utilities industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.arcflash_faceshield_w_safety-glasses

Seeing this growing demand for women-specific clothing in industrial professions, FR clothing manufacturers have made dramatic improvements to women’s lines.” (Read the entire story)

August 5, 2016

Pollution Control at a Substantial Profit – Pioneer Energy

Learn why flares next to oil drills are disappearing.
You likely have seen them: bright flames next to newly developed oil wells. For years, valuable gas has simply been going into the atmosphere because it’s been deemed too challenging to convert to use. That is until now. Read More and Watch this Video

August 1, 2016

Hydraulic Maintenance and Safety Guidebook


New! Just added to the page Documents and Forms/Guides and Books is a handy guidebook for Hydraulic Maintenance and Safety. If you work with hydraulic hoses, you will appreciate the background on hose construction, couplings, hose routing, assembly and inspection among other topics. A PDF file for this book can be found at:


July 19, 2016

Machine Guarding Incident: Worker dies while servicing operating coal elevator

The death of a Tonawanda Coke Corp. employee who was pulled into the rotating shaft of a coal elevator on Jan. 6, 2016, could have been prevented, an inspection by OSHA’s Buffalo Area Office has determined.

As he prepared to grease and lubricate the elevator, the worker’s jacket was caught, pulling the man onto the rotating shaft. OSHA determined that the employer neither shut down the elevator at the River Road plant in Tonawanda nor locked out its power source, as required by OSHA’s hazardous energy-control, or lockout/tagout, standard. They also found the company failed to train employees on how to use energy-control procedures.

“Training employees on lockout procedures and ensuring those procedures are used would have prevented this needless loss of a worker’s life,” said Michael Scime, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo. “Compounding this tragedy is the disturbing fact that OSHA cited Tonawanda Coke in the past for not following the requirements of the lockout standard. Yet, the company exposed both the victim and another employee who greased and lubricated plant equipment to these same hazards. This is unacceptable. It is Tonawanda Coke’s responsibility to eliminate these hazards once and for all and protect its employees.” (Read More)

June 14, 2016 from BBC

Amazon faces fine for shipping corrosive drain cleaner

Online retailer Amazon is facing a $350,000 (£247,000) fine for allegedly shipping hazardous chemicals that injured delivery workers.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed the fine, accusing the firm of breaching rules by sending a corrosive drain cleaner by air.
Nine UPS employees complained of burns after handling the package after the substance leaked, the authority said. Amazon said it would work with the FAA to improve its processes.
According to the authority, Amazon sent a package containing a one-gallon container of the corrosive drain cleaner “Amazing! LIQUID FIRE” from Kentucky to Colorado via UPS in October 2014.

…It was not clear how many times Amazon had paid fines or admitted responsibility because the FAA does not announce fines of less than $50,000, a spokesman for the authority told Reuters. The company did pay $91,000 in April 2014 for an incident the previous year in which its employees improperly shipped flammable liquid adhesive.  (Read More)

Struck By Accidents can Happen to Anyone! See the story about the latest Star Wars Movie …

struckby falls electrocution caught_by

Star Wars prosecuted over Harrison Ford injury

February 11, 2016

The actor was struck by a hydraulic metal door on the Pinewood set of the Millennium Falcon in June 2014.

The Health And Safety Executive has brought four criminal charges against Foodles Production (UK) Ltd – a subsidiary of Disney.

Foodles Production said it was “disappointed” by the HSE’s decision.

Following the incident, Ford was airlifted to hospital for surgery.

Following an investigation, the HSE said it believed there was sufficient evidence about the incident which left Ford with serious injuries, to bring four charges relating to alleged health and safety breaches.

A spokesperson added: “By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor.”  Read More

New York crane collapse kills at least one person

February 8, 2016

NYCity Crane Collapse_08Feb2016

The Fire Department of New York confirmed the fatality and is on the scene responding to the accident.

The collapse happened along West Broadway early on Friday morning in the Tribeca neighbourhood.

The downed crane, which filled the street, fell onto numerous parked cars.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the victim was sitting in a parked car at the time of the accident, and that it was caused by high winds.

Workers were in the process of lowering the crane due to the high winds when it collapsed. No workers were injured. Read More…

The Case of the Non-Electric Sign Electrocution

Jun 19, 2015  Sarosh Patel and Lawrence Hmurcik | Electrical Construction and Maintenance

When a four-man crew took on the installation of two non-electric advertising signs for an automobile repair shop, the threat of electrical hazards seemed virtually nonexistent. Ironically, though, it was electricity that ultimately turned the day into a tragedy — only two workers walked away from the job unscathed, a third suffered serious injuries, and a fourth lost his life.

Non-Electric Sign Electrocution ECM Article

Setting the stage

During the process of putting up two non-electric advertising signs that were approximately 30 ft long, 4 ft wide, and positioned approximately 15 ft above ground, the crew bolted the first sign in place piece by piece without incident. Bolting the second sign in place in the same fashion, the workers installed it on the side of the building near a 13kV utility line that serviced businesses in the neighborhood.

Because the elevated position of the signs, the workers used a 1975 Ford bucket truck with a boom attached. One man (on the ground) operated the boom in which another was standing. He called out instructions to his partner to make sign adjustments here and there before advising him to securely bolt it into the building’s concrete/cinder block wall. A third man was positioned on the roof on which the sign was being mounted. His job was to feed the installer pieces of the sign as well as bolts, hardware, and tools. Read More …

Safety News from 01/15/16

Brazil fire: Explosion unleashes toxic gas in Santos

January 15, 2016,

Brazil Port Fire 15Jan2016Wouldn’t it be a great improvement if Process Safety Management were implemented and followed the world over? A huge explosion at a port in Brazil has many people in the area confined inside until the fire burns out and the toxic dust settles. The BBC report is that “A spokeswoman for the company, which exports chemicals used for refrigeration and general cargo, said the containers were filled with chloric acid and sodium dichloroisocyanurate – a cleaning and disinfectant agent.” and “Firefighters said rainwater had seeped into the containers causing a chemical reaction.” Read more

Safety News from 01/02/16

Again proving why machine guarding is critical to protecting worker safety

The printing industry is not viewed as a highly hazardous environment. But rotating machines coupled with frequent jamming issues, then people tend to put their hands and other body parts where they don’t belong. This envelope manufacturing company had several incidents which lead to serious hand injury and amputations. Upon inspection OSHA sited them for both willful and serious violations for failing to protect employees from injury and leading to a hefty fine.  Read more:

Safety News from 11/04/15

Yet Another Nightclub Fire – Overcrowded and Pyrotechnic Display Gone Wrong

A nightclub fire in Romina last night killed 32 and injured over 180 in an overcrowded venue with insufficient exits and a rock band setting off pyrotechnics inside the club. (Read More) This is reminiscent of the 2003 Station Nightclub Fire in Rhode Island, USA. That incident killed 100 and injured 230 with similar circumstances. A band was using pyrotechnics on the stage and sparks ignited wall coverings. Remarkably the fire built very fast leaving the fans very little time to escape. It was later discovered that several of the exits at the nightclub in Rhode Island were blocked to prevent people slipping in without paying. Hence several exits were not available when needed. This shows that everyone should be diligent in surveying the surroundings when attending public functions. Identify where the exits are and don’t delay making an exit if something bad is occurring. Video footage from the Station Nightclub Fire (warning graphic)