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April 17, 2013
Board approves revisions affecting load hoisting, diesel runaway protections, and more

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) was busy in the latter part of 2012, approving a slew of revisions to the Cal/OSHA standards that took effect in November.

Use of forklift truck and excavators for hoisting loads

It's not unusual for a forklift or an excavator to be used to lift a load, but not all loads are the same. Forklift trucks and excavators that are used to hoist suspended loads—loads that hang from their support, rather than resting on it—operate in an area that was not, until now, covered by the Cal/OSHA standards. After DOSH identified a number of near-miss incidents, the agency prompted the OSHSB to address the issue.

The primary concern was that the misuse of slings on these vehicles could tip the vehicle and its load, potentially causing serious injuries and fatalities. The OSHSB has amended Construction Safety Orders (CSO) Section 1593 and General Industry Safety Orders (GISO) Section 3650 to require that slings used for lifting meet the sling standards contained in Article 101 of the GISO.

Article 101 applies to slings used in hoisting, including alloy steel, wire rope, metal mesh, natural or synthetic fiber rope, and synthetic web slings. Article 101 also addresses safe operating practices and inspection and maintenance of slings.

Diesel engine runaway protections

Because a diesel engine's speed is controlled by the amount of fuel supplied to it, diesel engines occasionally suffer from a malfunction called "diesel engine runaway." In a diesel engine runaway situation, the engine obtains additional fuel from a nondesigned source—sometimes it burns up its own lubricating oil, sometimes it pulls hydrocarbons through its air intake.

When this happens, the diesel "runs away," burning fuel out of control at its highest achievable rpm ("overspeeding"), and the engine cannot be shut down by the usual means of turning off its ignition switch or disconnecting its fuel system. The engine will continue to run until shut down by some other means, such as cutting off the engine's air supply.

If in the presence of flammable vapors, the runaway engine poses a fire and explosion hazard. It can ignite the flammable vapors, or the engine itself may explode.

The OSHSB has created new safety requirements intended to prevent or control runaway diesel engines in petroleum drilling and production, where hydrocarbon vapors are routinely present. The revision adds Section 6625.1 to the Petroleum Safety Orders (PSO), which prohibits the operation of stationary, vehicular, and mobile diesel engines within 50 feet of an open well bore or other existing source of ignitable gas or vapor unless precautions are taken to prevent runaways. Under the standard, runaway diesel engines must be shut down and may not be restarted until the area is free of flammable gas or vapor.

Precautionary measures outlined in the standard work by blocking any outside oxygen/fuel mixture from entering the engine; providing uncontaminated air to the engine's intake; or displacing the oxygen/fuel mixture from the engine with an inert gas in the event of a runaway.

Definitions pertinent to the new rules have been added to PSO Section 6505.

Practice tip

Employers outside the petroleum drilling and production industry that operate diesel engines in areas where flammable hydrocarbon vapors may be present could also benefit from taking the precautions outlined in the new standard.

Helicopter fueling

Existing helicopter refueling standards in the Logging and Sawmill Safety Orders (LSSO) required helicopters to be grounded during fueling operations. However, this requirement is not consistent with current practice and has now been removed from LSSO Section 6325. The same correction was made earlier in 2012 to CSO Section 1905; the two rules are now consistent with each other and current industry practice.

Cranes and derricks in construction

When Cal/OSHA adopted federal OSHA's revised regulations for cranes and derricks in construction in August 2010, numerous discrepancies were inadvertently created. This rulemaking, characterized by the OSHSB as a "clean up" rulemaking, corrects those issues.

Minor changes and corrections have been made to 20 different sections in the GISO and CSO.

Woodworking machines and equipment

This rulemaking adds 30 new definitions of woodworking machinery and equipment terms to GISO Section 4297. The purpose of the rulemaking is to clarify the existing standards, especially in areas where older equipment and machinery that are still in use are covered by the standard but were not defined in Section 4297.

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