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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

The Labor That Keep Our Communities and Families Safe

September 8th, 2020 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

As we go about our daily lives, each of us has numerous unknown encounters with dangerous goods (hazardous materials) without incident. These encounters are safe because those goods are safely packaged, transported, stored and used, thanks to the hard work of dangerous goods professionals (DG) around the world whose efforts often go unnoticed.

On August 4, 2020, in Beruit, Lebanon, 2,750 tons of ammonia nitrate exploded, killing at least 220 people, injuring more than 5,000, and leaving over 300,000 homeless. The blast is the largest accidental ammonia nitrate explosion ever recorded. At least ten times over the past six years, Lebanese security agencies and judiciary sounded the alarm bell that a massive amount of explosive chemicals were being unsafely stockpiled at the port in the heart of Beirut. Even with all these warnings of an impending disaster, nothing was done, and sadly, a tragedy occurred.

Manufactured in beads that resemble cooking salt, ammonia nitrate is generally safe to handle and is used in numerous ways, such as in fertilizer for agriculture. But storing and transporting it can be problematic. When exposed to high heat and other fuel sources, ammonia nitrate can become explosive. This is why in many countries there are strict rules governing its storage and transportation. For example, many European Union nations require calcium carbonate be added to it, creating calcium ammonium nitrate, which is safer. In the United States, regulations were tightened after two tons of ammonia nitrate were used to create the bomb in the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building attack that killed 168 people; now, under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, facilities that store 2,000lbs of ammonia nitrate are subject to inspection.

In my nearly 30 years of work in the dangerous goods community, I have sat through countless meetings, presentations, and hearings discussing the finer points of performance-oriented packaging testing or the proper paperwork and labeling for a shipment of radioactive material. I have had numerous conversations late into the night about the shipment of oxygen cylinders on airplanes. And if you really want to jumpstart a heated discussion, bring up the illegal shipment of counterfeit lithium batteries. The one thing all of these encounters have had in common is the untold number of DG professionals who have dedicated their careers to keeping people and the environment safe.

Not many of us actually set out to have a career in this field, but once we are introduced to it, it becomes a life long passion. Ranging from government regulators, fire department chiefs, trade association members, and dangerous goods managers at companies around the globe, these DG professionals are truly dedicated to keeping us safe from disasters like the one that took place in Lebanon.

As I write this, it is Labor Day weekend in the United States. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the DG community for your work–labor that keeps our communities and families safe.

UN Packagings and Design Re-Qualification – Substitutions Not Allowed

August 25th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

UN packagings are fabricated and tested to specific levels of performance. These tests allow a manufacturer to mark the packaging with the appropriate testing criteria (ie: packing group, maximum gross weight, contents). Often, users innocently alter the integrity of the package by adding accessories (ie: a plastic liner) or by replacing accessories with different components (ie: closure ring, gasket) in which case, the certification of the package can be voided if not re-tested for qualification. “A different packaging” is defined in CFR49 178.601(c)(4) as a packaging that differs from a previously produced packaging in structural design, size, material of construction, wall thickness or manner of construction. Further design qualification testing is not required if the alterations to the packaging do not constitute “a different packaging.” Also, Closure Instructions are packaging specific and must be used only for the packagings as designated.

View our Closure Instruction videos at:

Bolt Ring — https://www.skolnik.com/bolt-ring-closure-instruction-video

Level Lock — https://www.skolnik.com/leverlock-open-head-closure-instruction-video

Fittings — www.skolnik.com/closed-head-closure-instruction-video

PHMSA Extends Enforcement for the Transport of Sanitizing and Disinfecting Products

August 18th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

As the COVID-19 public health emergency continues, PHMSA is aware of the challenges that transportation companies are facing in providing personnel with necessary materials, such as hand sanitizers, that provide for protection of their health and safety and comply with government guidelines. Workplace locations like package sorting facilities, airport ramps, stations, and delivery vehicles often lack ready access to soap and water, resulting in an urgent need for sanitizing and disinfecting products.

As a result, PHMSA will extend its enforcement discretion for the transportation of any carrier transporting sanitizing and disinfecting materials on a motor vehicle for the purposes of protecting the health and safety of employees of the carrier. Transport of these products must also be in accordance with PHMSA’s April 20, 2020 Notice of Enforcement Discretion. The extended enforcement discretion will continue through October 31, 2020.

PHMSA Issues Safety Advisory for COVID-19 Diagnostic Samples.

July 28th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

PHMSA plays a leading role in ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials in commerce throughout the United States. As a result of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, certain shipments of COVID-19 diagnostic samples (e.g., nasal swabs, vials of sputum, and other related items) are classified as a Category B infectious substance (Division 6.2) hazardous material under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

Recent compliance inspections and found several instances of improperly marked or packaged diagnostic samples that were offered for transportation. In response, PHMSA is issuing this Safety Advisory Notice to provide information on the HMR related to offering and transporting these materials.

Why and How: Face Masks!

July 21st, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Face masks are one tool utilized for preventing the spread of disease. They may also be called dental, isolation, laser, medical, procedure, or surgical masks. Face masks are loose-fitting masks that cover the nose and mouth, and have ear loops or ties or bands at the back of the head. There are many different brands and they come in different colors. It is important to use a face mask approved by the FDA.

Facemasks help limit the spread of germs. When someone talks, coughs, or sneezes they may release tiny drops into the air that can infect others. If someone is ill a face masks can reduce the number of germs that the wearer releases and can protect other people from becoming sick. A face mask also protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from splashes or sprays of body fluids.

Consider wearing a face mask when you are sick with a cough or sneezing illness (with or without fever) and you expect to be around other people. The face mask will help protect them from catching your illness. Healthcare settings have specific rules for when people should wear face masks.

Disposable face masks should be used once and then thrown in the trash. You should also remove and replace masks when they become moist. Always follow product instructions on use and storage of the mask, and procedures for how to put on and remove a mask. If instructions for putting on and removing the mask are not available, then follow the steps below.

How to put on a Face Mask

Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask. Remove a mask from the box and make sure there are no obvious tears or holes in either side of the mask. Determine which side of the mask is the top. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose. Determine which side of the mask is the front. The colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face. Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using. Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear.

If your Face Mask has Ties, bring the mask to your nose level and place the ties over the crown of your head and secure with a bow. Then take the bottom ties, one in each hand, and secure with a bow at the nape of your neck. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.

If your Face Mask has Bands, hold the mask in your hand with the nosepiece or top of the mask at fingertips, allowing the headbands to hang freely below hands. Bring the mask to your nose level and pull the top strap over your head so that it rests over the crown of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so that it rests at the nape of your neck. Mold or pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose.

Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask. Avoid touching the front of the mask. The front of the mask is contaminated. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band. At the end of use, throw the mask in the trash. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Safe Packaging and Transportation of COVID-19 Materials

May 12th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Infectious substances, such as certain COVID-19 tainted materials, can pose a risk to health, safety, and property if packaged and transported incorrectly. When transporting such materials, it is extremely important to consult PHMSA’s Hazardous Materials Regulations to help minimize risk and exposure.

To assist medical facilities, clinical laboratories, and hazardous waste carriers in their efforts to move COVID-19 specimens, cultures, isolates, and medical wastes, PHMSA developed a COVID-19 Quick Reference page that provides guidance on how to package and transport these materials safely.

See PHMSA’s Guidance on Transporting COVID-19 Infectious Substances for more information.