The Mayo Clinic defines carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning as “an illness caused by exposure to too much carbon monoxide” – a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Too much carbon monoxide in the air you breathe can greatly diminish your ability to absorb oxygen, leading to serious tissue damage. Carbon monoxide is produced as a bi-product of appliances used when heating your home during the cold months or using alternative power sources, such as generators, during a power outage. Due to this need for added warmth, January has become the deadliest month for carbon monoxide poisoning and is largely due to unintentional or accidental carbon monoxide exposure. Unintentional carbon monoxide exposure becomes dangerous when carbon monoxide begins to accumulate in a contained or poorly ventilated space. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can be subtle but should be treated as a medical emergency. Seek treatment immediately, if someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide and is experiencing: headaches nausea dizziness confusion light-headedness Safety Tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning as recommended by Poison Control: Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliance inspected and serviced by a qualified technician every year. Install battery-operated CO detectors on […]
PHMSA issued the Pipeline Damage Prevention Programs Final Rule and thereby established the process for evaluating state excavation damage prevention programs. This final ruling also established a federal standard for enforcement in states where such requirements were inadequate or non-existent. In response to the passing of the rule, PHMSA Interim Executive Director Stacy Cummings reported, “Between 1988 and 2014, there were 1,815 pipeline incidents caused by excavation damage that resulted in 193 deaths, 757 injuries, and nearly $545 million in property damage. This rule represents a critical achievement in the Department’s continuing efforts to prevent excavation damage to pipelines.” Specifically, the Pipeline Damage Prevention Programs Final Rule establishes the following items copied directly from PHMSA’s website: The criteria and procedures PHMSA will use to determine the adequacy of state pipeline excavation damage prevention law enforcement programs; The administrative process for states to contest notices of inadequacy from PHMSA should they elect to do so; The federal requirements PHMSA will enforce against excavators for violations in states with inadequate excavation damage prevention law enforcement programs; and The adjudication process for administrative enforcement proceedings against excavators where federal authority is exercised. In 2006, the PIPES Act gave PHMSA authority to develop criteria […]
PHMSA has proposed updates to the requirements for drug and alcohol testing of employees after an accident/incident. The revised and new language in the OQ NPRM limits exemptions from post-accident/incident testing only to situations when sufficient information exists to establish that the employee(s) had no role in the accident/incident. The additional language will also require operators to document specific reasons to justify why testing was not administered and to retain such documentation for at least three years. The current PHMSA regulations require documentation of decisions not to administer a post-accident alcohol test, however, documentation for decisions not to conduct a post-accident drug test is only implied in the regulation, although it is generally followed. PHMSA’s move to expand and clarify the language for post-accident/incident drug and alcohol testing stems from the National Transportation Safety Boards (NTSB) safety recommendation to PHMSA on September 26, 2011, via NTSB Recommendation. CURRENT PHMSA REGULATIONS 199.105 Drug tests required. Each operator shall conduct the following drug tests for the presence of a prohibited drug: (b) Post-accident testing. As soon as possible but no later than 32 hours after an accident, an operator shall drug test each employee whose performance either contributed to the accident or […]
On June 3, 1989 in Russia’s Ural Mountains near the town of Ufa, a natural gas pipeline experienced a significant drop in pressure indicating a possible gas leak. In an effort to keep the pressure up, pipeline workers increased the flow of natural gas to the pipeline allowing the natural gas to leak and spread into the surrounding area. The natural gas settled in a low area close to nearby a Trans-Siberian Railway. As the natural gas began to settle in the low area, two trains approached each other from opposing directions on the rail tracks passing each other near the settled natural gas. As the two trains passed, the settled natural gas ignited causing a massive explosion including a fireball and flames that spread one mile from the source. The force of the explosion incinerated hundreds of trees instantly and knocked several train cars off the tracks. Due to the severity of the incident, it is not possible to determine the exact amount of lives lost. However, the best estimates were just over 500 lives lost and numerous individuals suffered severe burns requiring helicopter transport to local hospitals for treatment.