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Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VI
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Evaluate common workplace hazards.
    5.1 Perform a risk assessment of fire hazards at a manufacturing facility.
    5.2 Determine the applicability of the Life Safety Code to a manufacturing facility.
  2. Formulate hazard abatement strategies for common workplace hazards.
    6.1 Recommend controls to reduce the risks associated with fire hazards at a manufacturing
    6.2 Recommend controls to reduce the risks associated with combustible dust at a manufacturing
    Learning Outcomes
    Learning Activity
    Unit Lesson
    Chapter 19, pp. 410–439
    Unit VI Case Study
    Unit Lesson
    Chapter 19, pp. 410–439
    Unit VI Case Study
    Unit Lesson
    Chapter 19, pp. 410–439
    Unit VI Case Study
    Unit Lesson
    Chapter 19, pp. 410–439
    Unit VI Case Study
    Reading Assignment
    Chapter 19: Fire Hazards and Life Safety, pp. 410–439
    Unit Lesson
    In the last unit, we considered mechanical and fall hazards, including performing risk assessments on the
    hazards. We also looked at some control methods for those hazards. In this unit, we discuss fire hazards.
    Most safety positions will include at least one fire hazard, and many safety professionals must deal with
    multiple fire hazards. While most accidents involving mechanical or fall hazards involve a small number of
    individuals at a time, fires can injure or kill many more individuals in one instance.
    The textbook contains some good definitions related to fire safety. You should review and become familiar
    with those definitions. Two of the more important concepts for fire safety are the fire triangle and the fire
    tetrahedron. Most of you are probably familiar with the images in Figure 19-1 (page 410) of the textbook
    (Goetsch, 2019). The basic concept of these figures is that it takes the presence of a fuel source, oxygen, and
    heat to produce a fire. Removing one of the three
    variables will prevent or stop a fire. If you think of
    how wildfire firefighters work to remove brush
    from in front of a moving wildfire, you see the
    concept of removing one of the variables (fuel) in
    order to contain the fire.
    The figure of the fire tetrahedron presents
    another concept that is important for safety
    practitioners at occupational facilities. We
    sometimes think of fuel for fires as being some
    flammable material like paper or wood. However,
    some chemicals can also serve as fuel. Another
    important aspect of some compounds is that they
    can react with other compounds, and the
    reaction can create heat and flammable gases.
    This can be seen with the reaction of a strong
    acid and a metal. For example, when concentrated sulfuric acid is exposed to zinc it produces zinc sulfate,
    hydrogen gas, and some heat. The amount of heat is typically not enough to cause the hydrogen gas to burn,
    but if an ignition source is near the reaction, an explosion or fire may occur.
    Goetsch (2019) introduces another concept, spontaneous combustion. The example the textbook provides
    involves oily rags. However, some chemical reactions produce hydrogen gas that can spontaneously ignite. A
    good example would be the reaction between elemental sodium and water. The reaction produces sodium
    hydroxide and hydrogen gas and enough heat to ignite the hydrogen gas. This is why you have to take
    special storage precautions if you use elemental sodium at your workplace. There are several other metals
    that have similar reactions with water. Some can produce enough heat to spontaneously ignite the hydrogen
    gas while others do not produce enough heat to cause spontaneous combustion.
    Another group of compounds some of you may encounter are pyrophoric gases. These gases can ignite with
    no outside ignition source. Basically, if the temperature of the air is above an auto-ignition temperature the
    gas will self-ignite. The pyrophoric gases most commonly used in industrial processes include the metal
    hydrides and non-metal hydrides like phosphine, diborane, germane, and silane. These compounds are
    commonly used in the preparation of semiconductors, electronics, and some pesticides. Another pyrophoric
    compound is trimethylgallium, which has been used in conjunction with arsine to produce gallium arsenide
    Another important term for you to understand is flash point. The definition is provided on page 414 of the
    textbook. Basically, the lower the flash point, the more flammable the compound. OSHA has designated
    classes of both flammable and combustible liquids based on the flash point (Goetsch, 2019). You can view
    the different classes of flammable and combustible liquids as they previously existed, on page 414 of the
    An interesting development from the release of the revised hazard communication (HAZCOM) standard
    involves the terms flammable and combustible. The new HAZCOM standard uses the definitions developed in
    Europe for the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of HAZCOM. The definitions place liquids into one of four
    categories of flammable liquids. Those definitions did not have a definition for combustible liquid. Some of the
    classes of combustible liquids have been included in the GHS definition of a Category 4 flammable liquid.
    Some of the classes of combustible liquids were not included in any of the definitions of categories of
    flammable liquids. OSHA had to rewrite portions of existing regulations like 29 CFR 1910.106, which was
    titled “Flammable and Combustible Liquids.” That regulation is now titled “Flammable Liquids” and no longer
    contains definitions of combustible liquids (OSHA, 1970c). Therefore, the information in the textbook on
    flammable and combustible liquids and their classes is dated, and you should refer to 29 CFR 1910.1200 and
    29 CFR 1910.106 (general industry) and 1926.152 (construction industry) for current definitions and
    Elements of the fire triangle
    (Goetsch, 2019)
    categories (OSHA, 1970d; 1970e). You can view the different classes of flammable and combustible liquids,
    as they previously existed, on page 414 of the textbook.
    Another interesting development concerning fire safety also arose from the release of the updated Hazard
    Communication Rule. The new regulation included a system to place hazards into one of four categories
    based on the risk associated with the hazard flash point and boiling point. For flammable liquids, the greatest
    risk of flammability is Category 1 and the least risk is Category 4. For those of you familiar with the ratings
    used by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Hazardous Materials Identification System
    (HMIS), a 4 is the highest rating (most flammable) and a 1 is the lowest rating (least flammable). As you can
    see, the ratings are exactly opposite. The differences in rating systems can cause some confusion for the
    employees you work with. The one positive variable is that the OSHA category ratings are not required on the
    GHS label, and are typically only found in Section 2 of the safety data sheet (SDS). This means that the
    workers you routinely work with will rarely see the GHS ratings side-by-side with the NFPA and HMIS labels.
    Still, the contradiction should be covered in the HAZCOM training sessions you conduct.
    Another important variable in implementing an effective fire prevention program is the selection and
    placement of fire extinguishers. This task has become simpler over the years. A few decades ago, you would
    need to select a Type A, B, or C fire extinguisher based on the type of fire you might expect. In some cases,
    you would need to have multiple classes of fire extinguishers. Today, almost all fire extinguishers are Class A,
    B, C, meaning they will cover all three classes of fires. Class D fires are a little different. Not that long ago,
    there were no Class D fire extinguishers. Basically, if you had metallic compounds that could ignite you had a
    box of powder you would throw over the fire, which smothered the fire (cut off oxygen). This was the approach
    that you had to take in the case of a trimethylgallium fire described earlier. That response required a member
    of the fire team entering the space in a fire proof suit and carrying a box of the powder. You can imagine the
    difficulty of extinguishing this type of fire. Today, you can purchase Class D fire extinguishers for these types
    of situations.
    The placement of fire extinguishers many times causes problems with fire prevention programs. Basically,
    you need to determine if you have enough fire extinguishers of the proper class, if they are placed in the
    proper locations, and if they are readily accessible. Luckily, OSHA has regulations you can use to determine
    the number and location of fire extinguishers. You can find a review of those OSHA requirements on page
    418 of the textbook. Accessibility is a common problem in facilities, usually because someone has placed
    some material in front of the fire extinguisher, blocking access. It can take a great deal of a safety
    professional’s time checking to make sure the fire extinguishers are not blocked.
    OSHA also has a requirement for monthly visual inspections, annual maintenance checks, and hydrostatic
    tests (based on the construction material of the fire extinguisher). These requirements can be reviewed in 29
    CFR 1910.159 (OSHA, 1970a). Most employers will use an outside service to perform all of these required
    checks and tests, but some establishments perform the monthly visual inspections internally. If you choose
    this procedure, make sure you document the visual inspections. Most safety professionals use a tag attached
    to the fire extinguishers with each month listed where you can date and initial to document the visual
    The last large task that you may be required to perform is training in the use of the fire extinguishers. This
    training is only required if you allow some of your employees to fight incipient fires. This training basically
    covers how to use the fire extinguisher and how to fight a fire in the incipient stages with the extinguisher.
    Many companies will also use an outside service to perform this training.
    Another large control that you might need to oversee is exit routes for your facility. Most of you can
    summarize reports you have read where fatalities occurred because there were inadequate evacuation routes
    during a fire. OSHA has requirements for your evacuation program. You can read a summary of the
    requirements on page 425 of the textbook.
    The final section of Chapter 19 deals with Life Safety Codes. As the textbook reminds you, the Life Safety
    Code is published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Even though the NFPA does not
    publish regulations like OSHA does, some of the standards and guidelines published by the NFPA are
    incorporated by reference. There is a list of the standards that have been incorporated by reference in 29
    CFR 1910.6 (OSHA, 1970b). If you scan through the standards on the list, you will see that NFPA 101-2009,
    which is the Life Safety Code, has been incorporated by reference for several OSHA regulations. This
    designation means the required sections of the standard carry the same legal weight as the OSHA
    regulations. You should review the requirements of the Life Safety Code that are summarized in the textbook.
    Goetsch, D. L. (2019). Occupational safety and health for technologists, engineers, and managers (9th ed.).
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1970a). Occupational safety and health standards: Fire
    protection: Portable fire extinguishers (OSHA Standard No. 1910.157). United States Department of
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1970b). Occupational safety and health standards: General:
    Incorporation by reference (OSHA Standard No. 1910.6). United States Department of Labor.
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1970c). Occupational safety and health standards:
    Hazardous materials: Flammable liquids (OSHA Standard No. 1910.106). United States Department
    of Labor.
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1970d). Occupational safety and health standards: Toxic and
    hazardous substances: Hazard communication (OSHA Standard No. 1910.1200). United States
    Department of Labor.
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1970e). Safety and health regulations for construction: Fire
    protection and prevention: Flammable liquids (OSHA Standard No. 1926.152). United States
    Department of Labor.
    Suggested Reading
    In order to access the following resources, click the links below.
    While some fire hazards are easy to identify, you may sometimes miss fire hazards. The following discusses
    fire hazards, assessments, and preparedness programs for academic libraries.
    Iske, S. D. A., Jr., & Lengfellner, L. G. (2015, October). Fire, water, & books: Disaster preparedness for
    academic libraries. Professional Safety, 60(10), 39–46.
    There are a great number of OSHA regulations and standards from agencies outside of OSHA for fire
    protection. The following OSHA document summarizes most of those documents and has links, so you can
    access and review the documents.
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Fire safety. United States Department of Labor.
    OSHA does not currently have a published definition for combustible dust; however, it has published a
    guidance document for combustible dusts. The following OSHA document contains some interesting
    information about combustible dust hazards.
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2009). Hazard communication guidance for combustible
    dusts (OSHA Publication No. 3371-08). United States Department of Labor.
    Learning Activities (Nongraded)
    Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit
    them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
    OSHA has developed some training aids for safety professionals. Go to the following link, and review some of
    the training for fire safety. Which training resource(s) did you find to be the most useful?
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Fire safety. United States Department of Labor.

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