Yes, workplace hazard exposure is a serious offense. As of this year, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor (which includes OSHA) are partnering to bring federal charges against companies who expose workers to hazardous materials and carcinogens.
This partnership is intended to let prosecutors use powerful environmental protection laws to prosecute companies for worker safety violations involving exposure to dangerous substances. This will allow prosecutors working on OSHA worker exposure cases to work with the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice to maximize penalties and criminal charges.
In many cases, environmental protection laws are stricter and have stronger punishments than OSHA regulations. Environmental protection has wide public support and considerably more funding than occupational health and safety. There is an entire division of the Department of Justice that handles environmental crimes, and these may carry a much heavier fine or more serious criminal charges.
OSHA’s ability to level criminal charges is usually limited to situations where an employer willfully and knowingly violated safety standards and caused the death of a worker. These cases can be difficult to prove and even more difficult to prosecute. Under the laws regulating environmental crimes, releasing or failing to control any workplace hazard exposure to dangerous substances can be considered a crime, even if the exposure does not result in death or serious injury.
Just like with OSHA fines, the most serious criminal charges will go to employers who repeatedly violate the rules or who fail to correct problems even when they know about them. Bringing in the Department of Justice and their regulation of environmental laws is likely to affect companies who aren’t following the rules for controlling or cleaning up their hazardous materials.
Workplace hazard exposure includes materials such as dust and fumes from many types of industrial processes. Some examples are welding, plasma or laser cutting, manufacturing of plastics and resins, printing inks and pigments, as well as production of chemicals or fertilizers.
OSHA usually sets exposure limits for employees. Environmental regulations set limits for how much of a material can be released into the environment, regardless of the exposure to individual employees. Under the Department of Justice, hazardous materials being released inside a facility can be handled under environmental laws.
For metalworking facilities, hexavalent chromium, manganese, and other components of cutting and welding fumes are heavily regulated as environmental toxins. Exposing people to these materials, inside or outside, can be an environmental crime. Hexavalent chromium often contaminates drinking water, and it’s a major environmental concern.
For any company that either uses or produces hazardous dust or fumes, a dust collection system is very important for limiting exposure. The system will not only keep the materials away from workers, but also collects them safely and allows you to dispose of them properly. A dust and fume collection system that’s maintained and used correctly is a necessary tool for controlling hazardous airborne particles or fumes.
Read these 5 odd metal facts about Tin that you never thought about…and will always remember:
- TIN PEST: At around -20 degrees F, tin will transform itself from a shiny, flexible metal to a dull, brittle powder. This is called “tin pest” and can cause things made of tin to crumble to dust when the weather gets very cold.
- WHISKERS: Pure tin used in electronics is known to grow “whiskers”. These whiskers, which form for unknown reasons, cause havoc in systems where they can act like a tiny antenna, damage delicate parts, or cause short circuits.
- TIN CANS: Tin cans aren’t made of tin. They are made of steel. The steel is sometimes coated with tin to improve corrosion resistance, but cans made out of tin were not only more expensive, but also subject to “tin pest”, which made the cans brittle and breakable.
- TIN CRY: There’s a distinctive whining cry that is heard when a piece of tin is bent. This “tin cry” happens because the metal is made up of very tiny crystals, and bending the metal causes the crystals to scrape against each other.
- THE BRONZE AGE: Two thousand years before iron came into common use, bronze was the metal that revolutionized weapons, art, and civilization. This alloy of copper and tin was so superior to any other metal in use at the time that its discovery ushered in the Bronze Age.
Ever wonder how much facilities like yours might be paying when they don’t have proper dust control?
When a facility doesn’t have proper dust control equipment installed, or when they fail to protect their workers from welding fumes or combustible dust, fines from OSHA may be in your future. Since March of 2016, numerous fines OSHA have been handed out for respiratory hazard violations:
- A cement company in Ohio is looking at a $92,000 fine for violations that include silica dust exposure
- A company’s abrasive blasting process without proper air filtration resulted in a $121,000 fine for exposing workers to airborne lead
- Fines for a power equipment manufacturer may total $77,000 for violations including failure to evaluate dust hazards
- A pallet manufacturer is facing $152,000 in fines for safety hazards including combustible dust build-up
- Exposing workers to lead and cadmium dust at seven times the permissible limit will cost a Pennsylvania foundry $42,000
- A minerals company that failed to provide proper air quality and dust control exposed workers to lead and arsenic, which may cost them $106,000
READ THE OSHA PRESS RELEASE HERE
Is your dust collection system ensuring you don’t face these kinds of fines? Imperial Systems can help! Our custom-designed dust control systems will help keep your facility and your employees safe. Call one of our knowledgeable team members today to learn more! 800-918-3013.
Imperial Systems has changed the roof design of all CMAXX Cartridge Dust Collectors to have a solid one-piece roof. The CrownTECHTM roof on the CMAXX is fully reinforced and slightly positively bowed to make the unit stronger and assist with water runoff. Even with these changes, the CMAXX dust collection system still holds the title for the only modular dust collector with no external bolt holes.
The three key features of the new roof design are: 1. Zero bolt holes, 2. No individual panels, and 3. No roof seams between the modular.
Imperial System’s competitor’s similar unit, with 16 cartridges, has close to 68 feet of sealed connection and approximately 160 bolt holes with over 1000 holes throughout the collector from the bolted panel design. This old style of fabrication leads to potential leaks and holding water resulting in rust and damaged equipment from freezing.
The CMAXX Dust Collector stands tall on the claim of no external bolt holes with an industry best 15 year warranty.
The new CrownTECHTM roof is set to display this year at Fabtech 2016 in Las Vegas. Be sure to stop by booth # N1825 to check out Imperial’s products.
These pictures show how the competitors roof holds water from the panels being under vacuum. It also shows corrosion around the external bolts and bolt holes
Does having your dust collectors cartridge filters cleaned make sense? We have been interested in having our cartridge filters cleaned instead of replacing them with new ones. This has been a topic for discussion around here for a while since we not only use cartridge filters for our welding, plasma and grinding operations, but we also manufacture and market them as a product for most brands of dust collectors. At first glance the concept seems to make sense so we decided to have an open forum discussion about the differences and below is a list of questions and answers that we came up with regarding the topic.
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Q: Does cleaning your filters have an effect on the original filters emission throughput?
A: When we sell our filters we sell them with a manufactures guaranteed emission statement. This statement is based on the performance of new filters that have been tested in a laboratory. We cannot offer an emission statement once they have been mechanically cleaned outside of the original dust collector.
Q: Does the cost to clean the filters outweigh the cost to replace them?
A: It is hard for us to put a solid number on this question. Our concerns would be related to the following costs; freight, damaged filters from shipping and handling, labor, storage for a spare set of filters, clean up from excessive handling of dirty filters, pre mature failure to your HEPA filters from less efficient filters, etc… If you take a 10 cartridge dust collector and estimate the cost of new filters to be $2,000 and start subtracting the costs listed above you might have a hard time justifying it.
Q: Is there a danger that re-installing your cleaned used cartridge filters could harm your employees or cause a negative impact on your operation?
A: Most cartridge filters today are designed to work in the OEM’s dust collector with the original factory cleaning system. If you take the spent cartridge filters out and try to mechanically clean them you may jeopardize the integrity or the filter media. This can fracture the substrate especially if there is a NANO fiber treatment on the filter. With a damaged filter you are at risk of contaminating the air stream potentially causing harm to your workers and your process. This issue will show up very fast if you have a broken bag detector in line or a bank of HEPA filters after the primary filters.
Q: Is excessive handling dirty filters a good idea?
A: If you have ever changed out a set of filters on your own you will find that it can be a less than desirable job. Even when you have a simple tool free filter change out system like the CMAXX, it can be a lot of work. Besides that fact the no one likes to handle dirty filters, there is always a risk of putting a hole in one of the filters from handling. Not to mention that finding a filter with a hole in it can be a major job in itself.
Q: Will using cleaned cartridge filters meet my DEP / OSHA permits?
A: Our filter emissions are based on using new filters. If you remove our filters and clean them with anything othe r than the cleaning system that is supplied with the dust collector, our emission statement no longer applies and cannot be used for DEP / OSHA permits.
Q: Is it necessary to use a cartridge filter cleaning machine or have our filters cleaned by a third party if we have a built in cleaning system on our dust collector?
A: No. If you have a built in cleaning system on your dust collector and you are properly cleaning it there is no need. Most dust collection systems have the ability to do both “online” and “offline” cleaning. Online cleaning is done while the system fan is running and can be either continuous or set to clean at a certain differential pressure. The offline cleaning feature is the most effective method of cleaning. This type of cleaning is done once the main system fan is shut down allowing the reverse air to purge the dirty filter for a given time or until the filter is clean. This is essentially what a filter cleaning company s or a filter cleaning machine does without mechanically shaking the filter. We manufacture a controller that can be added to any dust collector with a reverse pulse cleaning system to give you this added benefit.