House Committee Discusses Oil Rig Health and Safety
The U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on June 23 to discuss how worker health and safety operations are regulated and which parties are responsible for
U.S. Rep. George Miller, chairman of the committee, raised
questions regarding how OSHA,
the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE) can
better coordinate efforts to prevent
or contain the release of hazardous
materials, such as the Deepwater
Horizon spill. OSHA oversees
workplace health and safety within
three miles of the U.S. coastline.
The Coast Guard is charged with
issuing worker safety violations
that occur beyond the three-mile
zone. The safety of drilling equipment and industrial systems on
drilling rigs is maintained by BOE.
“In light of the current tragedy in the Gulf, I hope we can
answer whether there is a better way to oversee and protect the
health and safety of oil rig workers,” Miller said. “The Deepwa-
ter disaster clearly demonstrates that the status quo is not good
enough. We must do better.”
The hearing also examined protection measures for workers
who report unsafe work conditions on mobile drilling vessels.
The April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 workers.
More information is available from the Committee on Labor and
Education’s website at http://edlabor.house.gov/hearings/2010/06/
CSB Urges OSHA to Regulate Use of Natural Gas for
On June 30, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) approved
urgent recommendations intended to
prevent explosions and fires during
purges of gas pipes for construction
and facility maintenance. The recommendations resulted from CSB investigations into the February 7, 2010,
explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in
Middletown, Conn., which killed six
workers, and the June 9, 2009, explosion at the ConAgra Foods Slim Jim
plant in Garner, N.C., which killed
The CSB urged OSHA to pass regulations that would prohibit
the use of natural gas for pipe cleaning, the cause of the explosion at Kleen Energy, and the venting or purging of fuel gas indoors, the cause of the explosion at the ConAgra Slim Jim
plant. Both explosions resulted from releases of natural gas,
called “gas blows,” during the installation and commissioning
of new piping that led to gas-fired appliances.
The CSB also urged the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) to change the National Fuel Gas Code by removing certain exemptions to safety operations for natural gas power
plants and requiring safer alternatives to gas blows, such as the
use of compressed air.
According to a CSB press release, records indicate that gas
blows at the Kleen Energy plant released more than two million
standard cubic feet of natural gas into the atmosphere on Feb. 7.
That amount is enough gas to supply a typical American home
with heat and cooking fuel for 25 years, the CSB said. The released gas found an ignition source and exploded.
The CSB press release is available at www.csb.gov/newsroom/
France Proposes First Restrictions Under REACH
In June, France proposed restrictions to
the uses of lead in jewelry and dimethyl-fumarate (DMFu) in consumer goods. The
proposals are the first regulatory actions
to be proposed under the European
Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Author- [Continued: 32]