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Use of Explosives in the Workplace

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | October 31, 2013 | Comments Off on Use of Explosives in the Workplace

use of explosives in the workplace“The employer shall permit only authorized and qualified persons to handle and use explosives.” –29 CFR 1926.900

On Tuesday night my family gathers in front of the TV to watch a reality show called Duck Dynasty. The show is about the Robertson family which consists of four brothers, mom and dad, and Uncle Si. I am sure many of us were impressed when the gang from Duck Dynasty blew up a duck blind on the Robertson land. The duck blind exploding made for an awesome camera shot as the Robertson men calmly walked away.  Some of the fantastic movie explosions we see on screen are computer generated, which is pretty safe. However, put explosives out on a job site and you have a real and significant danger to employees.

First and foremost, per OSHA, only qualified and authorized individuals are allowed to handle explosives and OSHA has strict requirements on the use of blasting agents and explosives in construction. There are also additional requirements when using explosives on a demolition site. You can bet that the explosions you see in movies are conducted in a very controlled way by experts and on job sites employees who handle explosives have to be trained, qualified, and authorized to use them.

Beyond blasting hazards, there are other hazards associated with the use of explosives on a job site such as Carbon Monoxide hazards in confined spaces. Please read the CDC publication regarding Carbon Monoxide poisoning and death after the use of explosives in a sewer construction project here. The fatality was caused by CO migrating through the soil after nearby use of explosives.

CFR 29 1926.900 contains the general provisions governing the use of explosives at the construction site. A similar standard, CFR 1910.109, also apply to explosives. The scope of explosives use and safety is wide-ranging, so we’re going to highlight OSHA regulation that you should know as a worker or employer.

–       Only authorized, trained and competent persons should be allowed to handle explosives. This qualified individual should at all times be sober and in the right state of mind when operating explosives.

–       Explosives should be stored and secured in a place where unauthorized persons have no access to. Movement of these explosives should also be monitored at all times and the employer should keep an inventory of the explosives.

–       Flammable and combustible materials and devices that could heat up or produce sparks should never be used in close proximity to explosives.

–       Blasting operations should be held during sunup and sundown as much as possible.

–       The blaster should confine the blast when blasting in areas near structures and highways, or crowded areas. He should also use necessary safety precautions like barricades and signs and other types of signals to tell employees to keep away.

–       Blasting operations should be done at a safe distance from power lines, network cables, and the like. The operations will not take place until the operators of the said lines have been informed of the blasting operations and assured that safety procedures have been implemented.

29 CFR 902 (f) outlines the safety precautions with regards to transporting explosives as follows:

–       Vehicles used for transporting explosives should have a working fire extinguisher that meets UL ratings. The driver of said vehicle should know how to use the extinguisher.

–       A huge decal/marking that reads “Explosives” in bold, red letters should be shown on the sides, front and rear of the vehicle.

–       A Class II magazine or container should be used to contain/cover the explosives if the vehicle used for transporting the explosives have an open body.

Remember, safety pays by keeping your employees safe and saving your company money by reducing costly workplace accidents. Indirect costs of an accident can go up to 12 times more than the direct cost of an accident. Learn more OSHA safety tips by enrolling in our OSHA 10 and 30 construction training course and keep your employees safe. Knowledge is power! Stay tuned for our next blog post.

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