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Spring 2012 Volume 55

Feature Articles

More than 60% of the United States is vulnerable to damage from high-wind events such as hurricanes, straight-line winds and severe thunderstorms that can produce high winds and heavy rains. “The damage can be devastating in more ways than one,” comments EMC Engineering Services Supervisor Chad Veach. Beyond the damage to a building’s exterior and roof, water intrusion can take its toll on everything from inventory and equipment to interior walls and electrical systems. “The extent of the damage and the necessary time to clean up after a wind-driven rain event could also result in significant interruption of business,” adds Veach.

According to Veach, simple steps can make a big difference when it comes to reducing the damage caused by wind-driven rain. It pays to prepare early, so that when a hurricane or other severe weather threatens, the focus can shift to gathering supplies, protecting employees and heeding potential evacuation orders. EMC Insurance Companies wants to help you understand your risks and offers the following recommendations from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).


  • Check for leaks around your windows and doors, especially near the corners
  • Check for peeling paint; it can be a sign of water getting into the wood
  • All vents, including gable vents, roof vents, and exhaust vents, should be well-anchored to the roof, flashed and sealed to prevent leaks


  • Make sure basement windows and doors have built-up barriers or flood shields


  • Replace wood siding and sheathing if it appears to have water damage
  • Inspect wood-sided walls to ensure there are at least 8 inches between any wood and landscaping materials or dirt
  • Use a high-quality silicone caulk around outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall
  • Check the roof for signs of deterioration or leaks; make sure all drains and gutters are clear
  • Shutter and seal gable-end vents to prevent wind-driven rain from entering attic space


  • Landscape features should not include soil or other bedding material mounded up against walls
  • Keep trees trimmed so that branches are at least 7 feet away from any exterior building surface
  • Vines should be kept off all exterior walls because they can help open cracks in the siding, which allows moisture to enter the building

Count on EMC® and IBHS to help protect your business from the ravages of wind-driven rain.

For more tips about what to do to prepare for the rainy season, protect your building in advance of impending weather and what to do immediately following any water intrusion, talk to your EMC loss control representative or visit

"As Benjamin Franklin said, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,'" notes EMC Senior Engineer Chris Murphy, when explaining the value of Prevention through Design (PtD), a national initiative being lead by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

According to Murphy, the mission of PtD is to prevent or reduce occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities through the inclusion of prevention considerations in all designs that impact workers. "Identifying and eliminating or reducing risks may require a bit more time in the planning phase, but it will more than pay off in reduced claim frequency, severity of injuries and insurance costs," Murphy adds.

According to NIOSH, a growing number of business leaders are recognizing PtD as a cost-effective means to enhance occupational safety and health. Many U.S. companies openly support PtD concepts and have developed management practices to implement them. Other countries are actively promoting PtD concepts as well. The United Kingdom began requiring construction companies, project owners and architects to address safety and health during the design phase of projects in 1994, and companies there have responded with positive changes in management practices. The Australian National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 set "eliminating hazards at the design stage" as one of five national priorities.

NIOSH proposes the following strategies to help U.S. companies realize the full value of PtD:

  • High-Quality Research: NIOSH will continually strive for research and prevention activities that will lead to reductions in occupational injuries and illnesses.
  • Practical Solutions: The NIOSH PtD program is committed to the development of practical solutions to the complex problems that cause occupational diseases, injuries and fatalities.
  • Partnerships: NIOSH recognizes that collaborative efforts in partnership with labor, industry, government and other stakeholders are usually the best means of achieving successful outcomes.
  • Research to Practice: Every research project will formulate a strategy to promote the transfer and translation of research findings into prevention practices and products that will be adopted in the workplace.

”With the explosion of smartphones, people are sending more private information over the mobile web for business, shopping, banking and other applications,” says Mark MacGougan, Hartford Steam Boiler vice president for identity theft and data breach programs. ”Hackers and criminals are following the money and scheming to steal that personal data.”

It’s the growing capacity of smartphones to store and transmit personal and financial data that is increasing security risks. Mobile payments make it easy to purchase goods and services and share business information on the go, but cell phones loaded with personal and company data are easily lost or stolen, and many people don’t use password protection.

Smartphones, like laptop computers, can also provide a channel for hackers to invade company servers and steal personal and corporate information. Yet data security strategies are not keeping up as many businesses issue mobile devices to their employees without taking even basic measures to safeguard confidential records.

The problem is growing worse. One study found that nearly half of employees were allowed to connect their personal mobile phones to corporate systems, and 70% of employees were allowed to use corporate-owned computing devices for personal activities. Another survey showed that nearly half of small business owners report that they own smartphones themselves. A data breach from a mobile phone or other source can threaten their company’s profits, customer base and reputation. Many smaller businesses lack the resources and expertise to protect the information they keep.

Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) provides programs through EMC Insurance Companies to help small and midsize businesses respond to data breaches. HSB’s identity recovery and data compromise coverages are affordable and easy to add to EMC policies.

The content contained herein are copyrighted materials of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company and are used with its permission.

Serious injuries to pedestrians listening to headphones have more than tripled in the past six years, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center. In many cases, cars or trains sound horns that the pedestrians cannot hear, leading to fatalities in nearly three-quarters of cases. The study noted two likely phenomena associated with these injuries and deaths: distraction and sensory deprivation. The distraction is caused by the use of electronic devices, in which multiple stimuli divide the brain's mental resource allocation. The distraction is intensified by sensory deprivation, in which the pedestrian's ability to hear a train or car warning signal is masked by the sounds produced by the portable electronic device and headphones. Click here to view the read more about the study.

The International Safety Equipment Association released two new guides for personal fall protection for users, employers and anyone involved in planning, designing and implementing fall protection on the job.

The 2012 edition of the National Fire Protection Association's Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E) uses the term "arc-rated" or "AR" to refer to a material property or attribute in terms of a material"s performance when exposed to an electric arc. Arc-rated material is flame-resistant, but flame-resistant material may not be arc-rated. This is just one of many changes in NFPA 70E. Implementing NFPA 70E correctly is a key to saving lives, reducing injuries and satisfying OSHA mandates for electrical safety. Visit to learn more about the most recent changes to this standard.

Other Topics

EMC Senior Safety Engineer Jim Stotser answers questions about the National Transportation Safety Board’s recent ban on handheld cell phones for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

What exactly does the ban prohibit?
The new ruling states that CMV drivers cannot use a handheld mobile telephone while driving a CMV. Handheld cell phone use is allowed only if the vehicle is moved to the side of or off the highway or stopped in a safe location.

What is the reason for the ban?
Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicates that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are three times greater when the driver is reaching for an object. The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are six times greater while the driver is dialing a cell phone.

Jim Stotser

What are the penalties for cell phone use?
Commercial Drivers License (CDL) and non-CDL drivers who violate the ban will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification for multiple offenses. Companies that allow drivers to violate the ban face penalties of up to $11,000 for each violation.

How can companies be certain drivers are complying with the new ban?
Some commercial carriers are installing electric onboard recorders to monitor driver activity in the cab. However, driver training and education is the best practice. EMC encourages companies to enact a policy that addresses hands-free devices as the only accepted communication device allowed in a cab.

For a complete review of the ban, Stotser recommends visiting the Department of Transportation's Action Center.

What's the leading cause of workplace accidents? Slips, trips and falls, according to the National Safety Council. More than 9 million disabling slip/fall injuries occur per year, resulting in 95 million lost workdays and an average cost of $20,228 per slip/fall accident. EMC Insurance Companies is striving to reduce these numbers with a recently published Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Guide.

"The guide provides a real-world, real-solutions approach to the problem," comments EMC Senior Engineer Larry Readout, who helped compile the document. "We used actual examples of hazards we see during our inspections to provide helpful tips on ways to reduce or eliminate them." According to Readout, many of the solutions require only a minimum investment of time or money. The guide also provides recommendations for ways to influence human behavior that might be contributing to the incidence of slip and fall accidents. Property owners and those responsible for buildings and grounds can access this 26-page guide in the Slips and Falls topic section.

Insights Online


Green construction may be good for the environment, but the crews who work on these types of projects suffer more falls than workers on traditional projects, are exposed to new, high-risk tasks and incur more lacerations, strains and sprains.

Green jobs and sustainable practices are being used more and more in a wide range of industry sectors and products, from farms to office buildings. There are no official definitions for green jobs and sustainable work practices, so we define them broadly here as jobs and practices that help to improve the environment. Such jobs could include (a) new types of jobs related to green technologies, processes, outcomes and products; (b) existing jobs where green practices and technologies are being introduced; and (c) existing jobs that create products viewed as important to the green economy. These types of jobs and practices all aim to reduce energy use and environmental impacts while preserving social and economic benefits. But do "green" and "sustainable" also mean safe and healthy for workers?

As green and sustainable practices become more common in the U.S, there is an opportunity to promote worker safety and health as a fundamental dimension of true sustainability. A sustainable product, process or technology should not only protect the environment and the consumer but also the worker. Green jobs must be safe jobs.

In December, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sponsored the Making Green Jobs Safe Workshop (see for more information and links to video). At the Workshop, NIOSH presented six ideas about the steps needed to protect both workers and the environment by making occupational (worker) safety and health concepts part of green and sustainability developments. These ideas are explained below.

1. Define, Categorize And Track Green Jobs
Defining and categorizing green and sustainable jobs and work practices is a necessary first step for identifying and understanding how green jobs affect worker safety and health. Researchers, demographers and industry partners need to work together to develop ways to define and keep track of injuries, illnesses and hazards associated with green jobs. Standard terms will reduce confusion, improve information sharing and make it possible to see the worker safety and health benefits and problems that arise over time.

2. Evaluate All Green Jobs, Practices, Processes And Products For Hazards
Sustainable practices and green technologies, products and processes need to be evaluated for worker safety and health just like any other new job, product or practice. Such evaluation can identify work-related hazards that can then be prevented or controlled. It can also help identify those green practices, products and technologies that improve worker safety and health so that they can be widely promoted. In addition, the safety and health community can do more to evaluate and understand the energy costs and environmental impacts of safety and health practices. Green jobs, processes, products and technologies can all benefit from research to find out how best to keep a high degree of safety and health while improving energy efficiency and reducing environmental impacts.

3. Integrate Worker Safety And Health, Energy Conservation And Environmental Protection Efforts
Occupational safety and health, energy conservation and environmental protection professionals often work separately from one another, which increases the chances that costs and risks will be unintentionally shifted from the environment to workers or vice versa. Working together would help these professionals better coordinate approaches to sustainability to make sure that workers, the environment and energy resources are all protected.

4. Plan Early For Prevention
Considering safety and health at the beginning of a project during the design phase and making decisions about what equipment and materials to use are important, cost-effective strategies. At NIOSH, these strategies are called Prevention through Design (PtD). The principles of PtD can be used to achieve sustainability through early planning to ensure that the resulting health, energy and environmental benefits can be at their highest levels for workers, the public and the environment.

5. Make Safety And Health Part Of Green Jobs Training
Training will play an important role in helping workers develop the new skills needed to transition to new types of green jobs or to learn how to use new products and technologies in their existing jobs. Safety and health should be considered an essential component for all green job training, in addition to training on the skills workers need to complete job tasks.

6. Add Safety And Health To Green Benchmarks
There are many different types of measurements and benchmarks to evaluate whether practices are green and sustainable, for example, the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating Systemâ„¢. While these are widely used, almost none of the measures directly considers occupational safety and health impacts. Researchers and practitioners need to work together to develop ways to determine whether a practice is good for worker safety and health, and then add that to the benchmarks for green and sustainable practices.

Great strides can be made in occupational safety and health, energy conservation and environmental sustainability if all three fields work together, share information and work toward similar goals. December's Making Green Jobs Safe Workshop started the conversation about how to integrate these fields.

[Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety And Health (Matt Gillen, Deputy Director of the NIOSH Office of Construction)]

In response to more than 200 fatalities and hundreds of serious injuries involving unprotected trenches since 2003, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued new guidance material to protect workers in trenches.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released three new guidance products to educate workers and employers about the hazards workers face in trenching operations. Unprotected trenches are among the deadliest hazards in the construction industry, and the loss of life is devastating. Since 2003, more than 200 workers have died in trench cave-ins, and hundreds more have been seriously injured.

“No worker's life should end in a trench. Cave-ins during excavations are some of the most common and grisliest causes of worker fatalities in construction, yet they are entirely preventable,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “I am deeply troubled by the continued violations of OSHA's trenching standards, many of which bring tragic results. These new educational materials provide clear guidance on the necessary steps that employers must take to protect workers in trenches.” The new information products, which are available on OSHA's Publications page, include:

“Trenching and Excavation” fact sheet—an overview of the hazards that can occur while performing trenching operations and the safety measures required to protect workers

“Working Safely in Trenches” QuickCard—an easy-to-use graphic guide to trenching hazards and safety measures with graphics

“Do Not Enter an Unprotected Trench!” poster—a resource for construction workplaces informing workers what steps must be taken to ensure trench safety, along with the warning, "An Unprotected Trench is an Early Grave."

Subjects covered in the three documents include proper shoring and sloping; evaluations by competent persons, means of access/egress, atmospheric hazard testing and protective systems. The guidance also describes protective measures that are required under OSHA’s excavation standards (29 CFR 1926.650 , 29 CFR 1926.651 , and 29 CFR 1926.652). Spanish-language versions of the documents are also available.

Due to the severity of trenching hazards, OSHA conducts a Special Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavations (Directive CPL 02-00-069 [CPL 2.69]), which sets procedures for enforcement activities wherever trenching and excavation worksites are observed. When OSHA’s compliance officers see a trench, they will inspect it. On two separate occasions in the past year, this Special Emphasis Program allowed OSHA compliance officers to remove workers from unsupported trenches minutes before they collapsed—likely preventing possible injury and loss of life.

[Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration]

Local Governments

According to a recent study in Canada, the symptoms associated with the development of post-traumatic stress syndrome in police officers can be lessened or prevented with specific and adapted intervention.

Although police officers are at a high risk of experiencing traumatic events in their work, they are no more likely than the general population to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These are the findings from the second phase of an original and groundbreaking study published by the Institute de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) on the risk and protective factors of post-traumatic stress reactions in Quebec police officers.

Immediate and post-immediate intervention
This study also confirms that symptoms associated with the development of PTSD in police officers can be attenuated or prevented with specific and adapted intervention. These symptoms include dissociative reactions, emotional and physical reactions, a state of acute stress, depressive symptoms and emotional coping responses to stress.

“Providing police officers with interventional support shortly after and in the weeks following a traumatic event improves the chances of preventing PTSD,” explained André Marchand, lead author of the study. “The strategies for adapting to trauma, such as developing a stress-resistant personality and obtaining social support, can be improved through prevention components of police officer training programs,” said Marchand, who is also a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

The descriptive analysis results show that police offers have different adaptation methods and strategies at their disposal in order to deal with a critical work-related event. In fact, the police officers stated that talking to their colleagues, obtaining peer support and taking part in leisure activities are particularly helpful after a traumatic event. “The police officers involved in this study even advise their colleagues who experience this kind of event to consult a psychologist and are themselves open to the idea of receiving psychological support if need be," said Mélissa Martin, co-author and psychologist at the Trauma Study Centre at Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital.

This study, the first of its kind in Quebec, could be used as a reference for further research using a sample of Quebec police officers. The knowledge gained will help screen for and prevent PTSD. Recommendations based on this research will help police departments create strategies to both develop mechanisms that protect police officers from traumatic events and decrease risk factors. This study could also have a significant impact on other people with a high risk of experiencing work-related traumatic events (firefighters, paramedics, first-aid workers, first responders, etc.).

Eighty-three policemen (63 men and 20 women) from the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) and other police forces who had experienced a traumatic event volunteered for this prospective study and were evaluated at four intervals. Among the participants, 64% had to draw their guns, 11% fired their guns, while 28% of them used another weapon. A feeling of powerlessness in relation to the traumatic event was reported by 80% of the police officers, and 59% of them felt a reaction of intense fear. More than half of the police officers said they experienced anger, 17% felt guilt, and 2% felt shame when the TE occurred.

You can read the IRSST study at

[Source: Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST)]

New resources from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provide a full list of life-threating infectious diseases, descriptions of how emergency responders may be exposed to such diseases and guidelines for medical facilities to determine whether exposures have occurred.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and partners in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued revised and updated resources to help prevent exposures of emergency response employees to potentially life-threatening infectious diseases in the line of duty.

The resources include:

  • A list of potentially life-threatening infectious diseases, including emerging infectious diseases, and specifics on which diseases are routinely transmitted through airborne or aerosolized means
  • Guidelines describing the circumstances in which emergency response employees may be exposed to such diseases while attending to or transporting victims of emergencies
  • Guidelines for medical facilities for making determinations on whether or not such exposures have occurred

The action was taken as a result of provisions in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. In the reauthorization, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to update resources originally compiled under the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, enacted in 1990.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services delegated the task to the CDC. NIOSH and the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion worked together to develop the required list and guidelines, incorporating input from stakeholders that was received via a public comment process. NIOSH was created under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and is a part of the CDC.

The updated list of potentially life-threatening infectious diseases to which emergency response employees occupationally may be exposed includes all that were in an earlier list under the 1990 Ryan White Act:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV, including AIDS
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Plague, pneumonic
  • Rabies

New additions include:

  • Anthrax, cutaneous
  • Novel influenza A and other influenza strains with a pandemic severity index greater than or equal to 3.0
  • Hepatitis C
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis
  • Rubella
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV)
  • Smallpox
  • Vaccinia
  • Varicella disease
  • Select agents

More information can be found at

[Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

Petroleum Marketers

According to a report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, children and young adults frequently gather at oil sites in rural areas unaware of the explosion hazards. The report calls on the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory bodies to improve current safety and security measures.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a new study of explosions at oil and gas production sites across the United States, identifying 26 incidents since 1983 that killed 44 members of the public and injured 25 others under the age of 25. As a result, the CSB is calling for new public protection measures to be taken at the sites. The report examined, in detail, three explosions that occurred at oil and gas production facilities in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, and killed or injured members of the public between October 2009 and April 2010.

The CSB report found that children and young adults frequently socialize at oil sites in rural areas, unaware of the explosion hazards from storage tanks that contain flammable hydrocarbons like crude oil and natural gas condensate. The unintentional introduction of an ignition source (such as a match, lighter, cigarette or static electricity) near tank hatches or vents can trigger an internal tank explosion, often launching the tank into the air and killing or injuring people nearby.

The report identified regulatory gaps at the federal and state levels, and called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulatory bodies to improve current safety and security measures at exploration and production sites such as warning signs, full fencing, locked gates, and locks on tank hatches and other physical barriers. The report also called on state regulators in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas to require safer, more modern tank designs to reduce the likelihood of an internal tank explosion if an ignition source is inadvertently introduced nearby.

On Oct. 31, 2009, two teenagers, ages 16 and 18, were killed when a storage tank containing natural gas condensate exploded at a rural gas production site in Carnes, Miss.. Six months later, a group of youths was exploring a similar tank site in Weleetka, Okla., when an explosion and fire fatally injured one individual. Two weeks later, a 25-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman were on top of an oil tank in rural New London, Texas, when the tank exploded, killing the woman and seriously injuring the man. The CSB deployed investigators to all three sites to collect information on the incidents.

Investigators found that the three accidents occurred in isolated, rural wooded areas at production sites that were unfenced, did not have clear or legible warning signs and did not have hatch locks to prevent access to the flammable hydrocarbons inside the tanks. CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “After reviewing the work of our investigators, I believe that these incidents were entirely preventable. Basic security measures and warning signs—as well as more safely designed storage tanks—will essentially prevent kids from being killed in tank explosions at these sites.”

The CSB’s investigation found a few major cities and some states, such as California and Ohio, already require varying levels of security for oil and gas production sites. These include fencing, locked or sealed tank hatches and warning signs. As a result, California did not appear to have any fatal tank explosions between 1983 and 2011. However, many other large oil and gas producing states have no such requirements. The major oil-producing states, Texas and Oklahoma, require fencing and warning signs for certain sites that have toxic gas hazards, but not for all sites with flammable storage tanks.

“Oil and gas storage sites are part of the landscape in many rural American communities; hundreds of thousands of similar sites are located across the country,” said CSB Lead Investigator Vidisha Parasram. “It was a concern to discover that issues related to public safety are rarely considered prior to placement and design of these sites. In many cases, sites can be as close as 150 to 300 feet from existing buildings such as residences, schools and churches, and still lack any meaningful warnings or barriers to prevent public access.”

Among the six formal safety recommendations in the report, the board urged state regulators to require the use of inherently safer tank design features, such as flame arrestors, pressure-vacuum vents, floating roofs and vapor recovery systems. The safety measures, which are similar to those already in use in refineries and other downstream storage tanks, reduce the emissions of flammable vapor from the tanks or otherwise prevent an external flame from igniting vapor inside tanks.

“The goal of this investigative study is to issue recommendations that will effectively address the current gaps that exist at the state and federal level,” said Dr. Moure-Eraso. “As I have seen firsthand, these sites can be dangerous to the people who live and work in these communities and should be properly designed and protected.”

The board recommended the EPA issue a safety bulletin that warns of the explosion hazards of storage tanks, describes the importance of increased security measures such as fencing, gates and signs, and recommends the use of inherently safer storage tank design. Similarly, the CSB’s recommendations seek to address the current gaps in regulations and codes in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

The CSB’s investigation also examined industry codes and standards, such as those from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The final report recommends that both organizations adequately address the hazards that these sites present to members of the public through amendments to their existing codes or through creation of additional guidance.

As a result of the investigation’s findings, the CSB recommended that API warn about the explosion hazards presented by exploration and production sites, and include requirements for security measures, such as fencing gates and signs, recommendations for inherently safer storage tank design and acknowledgment of the public safety issue presented by these sites. Similarly, the CSB recommended that NFPA amend NFPA 30 “Storage of Liquids in Tanks—Requirements for all Storage Tanks” to adequately describe unmanned extraction and production sites and include information in a relevant security standard that offers specifications on fencing and locks.

CSB Chairman Moure-Eraso said, “As the demand for domestic energy resources continues to grow and the number of active extraction and production sites continues to rise steadily, it is important to ensure that these sites have the appropriate safeguards to save young people’s lives.”

In 2011, the CSB released a safety video titled “No Place to Hang Out: The Danger of Oil Well Sites,” aimed at educating young people about the hazards associated with oil storage tanks. In the video, the CSB interviewed teenagers and adults who stated that it is a common practice in rural areas for young people to hang out and socialize at oil production sites. To view the CSB’s safety video, visit

[Source: U.S. Chemical Safety Board]

In gas explosion accidents that include personal injuries, it is standard to obtain a liquid sample of gas to be be tested to determine the level of odorant in the gas. Protect yourself and your customers by properly documenting odorant levels and sniff tests.

A common issue that can create a basis for liability in defending gas explosion cases is the level of odorant in the gas as it is emitted into the atmosphere. When people who are injured in a gas explosion testify that they did not smell gas, the focus immediately turns to the odorant in the gas.

In accidents that include personal injuries, it is standard to obtain a liquid sample of gas to be lab tested to determine the level of odorant in the gas.

NFPA 58 references that 1 pound of ethyl mercaptan per 10,000 gallons of propane has been shown to be an effective odorant. The code requires the odorant to be detectible at one-fifth the lower explosive limit. The amount of ethyl mercaptan required in propane exceeds the amount of odorant needed to meet this threshold requirement. The general industry practice is to place 1.5 pounds of ethyl mercaptan per 10,000 gallons of propane. This level is substantially above the threshold requirement to meet the code standard.

In tests following an accident, there are occasions when the level of odorant found in the liquid sample fell below 1 pound per 10,000 gallons. This can occur in two ways: The odorant was not added in the right quantities at the outset or the odorant was lost due to several possible events after it was added to the propane.

The safeguards present for making sure odorant is added in sufficient quantities at the outset vary at the terminals where the propane is picked up. Mechanical devices are designed to inject the odorant at the right levels before it leaves the terminal. The level of odorant injected is then documented on a bill of lading that goes with the product until it reaches the local propane marketer. This is the only documentation showing the amount of odorant actually in the propane.

A sniff test required by the code is the other documentation of odorant. This takes place when LP gas is delivered to a bulk plant and when shipments of LP gas bypass the bulk plant. In many instances, the local propane marketer does not transfer propane to the bulk plant. An independent transport driver often does this. The bill of lading is often viewed as the written documentation that the propane has been sniff tested at the point of transfer to the bulk plant or when the bulk plant is bypassed. A sniff test does not confirm the level of odorant in the propane—just that it can be detected by smell.

So there are two pieces of evidence that can be used to defend claims of insufficient odorant against propane marketers: a bill of lading showing odorant levels that meet code requirements and a documented sniff test by a bill of lading or otherwise that meets the requirements of the code.

Odorant loss can also occur in new tanks or cylinders. That is why there is a general requirement that the first fill be to 80%. This does not eliminate odorant loss in the container but reduces its effect. Odorant loss can also occur in older containers through oxidation in the container degrading the odorant. There are myriad ways odorant can be lost outside the container as well. Leeching in the ground, absorption, adsorption and masking are just some examples.

It is important from a safety point of view that odorant levels and sniff testing are properly documented. It is also important to follow safe procedures when installing new containers to reduce the chance of odor fade. And it is helpful to identify the ways that odorant can be lost in the environment, recognizing that possibility when called about a potential gas leak.

Reprinted with permission by LPGas magazine and John V. McCoy, partner with McCoy Law Group, S.C.


While conducting an energy savings survey for an elementary school, a Hartford Steam Boiler inspector identified a major problem in the heat exchangers that could have leaked carbon monoxide into the classroom.

While acting on a specific request by an insured school district for technical services, Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) alerted elementary school officials to a serious safety exposure when an HSB inspector found several holes in heat exchangers that could have leaked carbon monoxide into the classrooms.

“It’s all in a day’s work for HSB,” said Roger Royer, HSB senior vice president for inspection services. “We know our customers’ equipment, and we’re ready to respond when there is a problem. In this case, there was more at stake than a breakdown. We’re glad we could help.” In addition to providing equipment breakdown insurance and jurisdictional inspections for the town’s public schools, HSB offered its technical resources to help optimize energy costs and keep equipment running longer. Officials knew there were problems with the rooftop heating, ventilation and cooling units at the school, so they asked HSB to help assess the condition of the equipment.

HSB’s inspector found that the natural gas fired heat exchangers were corroded and had developed several holes in the tube walls. If the units were turned on, the inspector warned, hazardous carbon monoxide combustion gas could enter the school through the building’s air conditioning ducts. HSB helped the town consider its repair and replacement options with an analysis that calculated the costs and the return on investment. Installing new heat exchangers would increase energy efficiency by more than 60%, HSB concluded, and school officials used HSB’s findings to support their request that the town council approve approximately $79,000 to replace the defective equipment.

HSB provides better equipment breakdown coverage, better inspections, loss prevention and claim service. They go the extra mile to help EMC customers get the most out of their equipment. HSB people are there when EMC clients need us, for coverage, service or technical advice, such as property or loss prevention surveys or selecting the best type of boiler for their building.

The content contained herein is copyrighted material of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company and is used with its permission.

A recent report from the American Medical Association estimates that approximately 3.7 million youths engage in, and more than 3.2 million are victims of moderate or serious bullying each year. The National Association of School Psychologists takes a look at the problem and recommends solutions.

Bullying is a widespread problem in our schools and communities. The behavior encompasses physical aggression, threats, teasing and harassment. Although it can lead to violence, bullying typically is not categorized with more serious forms of school violence involving weapons, vandalism or physical harm. It is, however, an unacceptable anti-social behavior that is learned through influences in the environment, e.g., home, school, peer groups, even the media. As such, it also can be unlearned or, better yet, prevented. For more information, we encourage you view the fact sheet created by the National Association of School Psychologists at