Posts Tagged OSHA standards

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA: Construction vs. Maintenance Work

The addition to OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926 was designed to protect employees engaged in construction activities at work sites with one or more confined spaces.

A confined space is not designed for human occupancy. It has limited means of entering or exiting and can have a potentially hazardous atmosphere. Confined spaces may be poorly ventilated and, as a result, lack adequate oxygen or contain dangerous levels of toxic gases.

Before standard 29 CFR 1926, OSHA’s confined space regulations only applied to general industry. A gap grew obvious when the department of labor statistics reported most confined space fatalities were occurring during construction activities.

The new standard is very similar to the previous one, but applies directly to work in construction. It requires a permit to enter, pre-entry testing and continuous monitoring while inside the confined space.

While this new standard closes the gap in construction work, it leaves out one important component: maintenance.

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Sugar can explode?

Admittedly, this was news to me. It seems unlikely that items like sugar, soap, or flour would be explosive. Sure, I saw Fight Club, where Tyler Durdin uses household chemicals and soap to intentionally blow thing up, but hadn’t considered that the right circumstances, sugar or soap dust will explode.

So I began looking into it more. What I learned is that if dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. Dust can burn rapidly when it’s in a finely divided form. Typically, the finer the dust, the more explosive it can be. This even includes materials that do not burn like aluminum or iron. Plus, these explosions can and have caused injuries and even deaths. Entire buildings have been destroyed from sugar explosions!

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, injured 718, and extensively damaged numerous industrial facilities.

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