Safety Rigging

  • By Matt Moltane
  • 02 Nov, 2017

Check out this rigging safety resource, which is a fantastic way to further your team’s safety education:

 

Rigging Safety Webinars from Columbus McKinnon Corporation (USA-made rigging equipment supplier):

https://www.cmworks.com/Rigging/Shackles?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-I2mr_Cd1wIVC2SGCh0gWQ5REAAYAiAAEgIrhvD_BwE

           

You’ll find immediate access to these three safety webinars:

    • Rigging Part 1: Chain Sling Inspection
    • Rigging Part 2: Proper Use of Shackles
    • Rigging Part 3: Rigging with Lever Tools

You may also want to sign up to receive Alerts for their monthly safety webinars.

By Matt Moltane 02 Nov, 2017

Check out this rigging safety resource, which is a fantastic way to further your team’s safety education:

 

Rigging Safety Webinars from Columbus McKinnon Corporation (USA-made rigging equipment supplier):

https://www.cmworks.com/Rigging/Shackles?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-I2mr_Cd1wIVC2SGCh0gWQ5REAAYAiAAEgIrhvD_BwE

           

You’ll find immediate access to these three safety webinars:

    • Rigging Part 1: Chain Sling Inspection
    • Rigging Part 2: Proper Use of Shackles
    • Rigging Part 3: Rigging with Lever Tools

You may also want to sign up to receive Alerts for their monthly safety webinars.

By Matt Moltane 10 Aug, 2017

Dear Readers,

This is the start of a new series of blog posts for our website.

In this series, we will discuss safety programing, best practices in order to help organizations of all sizes prevent accidents and injuries in their workplaces, and help risk consultants help their clients in a better manner.

The advice that will follow comes from our experience in the safety and risk control consulting fields. Look for more to follow!

By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

Heavy lifting, repetitive movements or sitting at a desk all day can take a toll on your back. Get the facts about back pain and how to prevent it.

Whether it's dull and achy or sharp and stabbing, back pain can make it hard to concentrate on your job. Unfortunately, many occupations can place significant demands on your back.  Even routine office work can cause or worsen back pain and result in injury.  Understand what causes back pain and what you can do to prevent it.

What are the common causes of back pain at work?

A number of factors can contribute to back pain at work:

  • Force.  Exerting too much force on your back, such as by lifting or moving heavy objects like hot water heaters, can cause injury.
  • Repetition. Repeating certain movements can lead to muscle fatigue or injury, particularly if you're stretching to the limit of your range of motion or using awkward body positioning.
  • Posture. Slouching exaggerates your back's natural curves, which can lead to muscle fatigue and injury.
  • Stress. Pressure at work can increase your stress level and lead to muscle tension and tightness, which can contribute to or worsen back pain.

What can I do to avoid back pain at work?

You can take these steps to prevent back pain and injuries at work:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.  Maintaining a healthy weight minimizes stress on your back.  For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, preferably spread throughout the week, and strength training exercises at least twice a week.  Combine aerobic exercise, such as swimming or walking, with exercises that strengthen and stretch your back muscles and abdomen.
  • Pay attention to posture.  If you stand for long periods at work, occasionally rest one foot on a stool or small box.  While you stand, hold reading material at eye level.  To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that allows you to rest both feet flat on the floor while keeping your knees level with your hips.  If necessary, prop your feet with a foot stool or other support.  If the chair doesn't support your lower back's curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back.  Remove your wallet or cell phone from your back pocket when sitting, to prevent putting pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
  • Lift properly.  When lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your knees and tighten your core muscles.  Hold the object close to your body and lift it between your legs.  Maintain the natural curve of your back.  If an object is too heavy to lift safely, find someone to help you.  If you cannot move the item with your foot, then you need help.  You can also use an appliance dolly with a ratchet strap for moving items such as hot water heaters, etc.
  • Modify repetitive tasks.  Think about how you can modify repetitive tasks at work to reduce physical demands on your body.  Use lifting devices or adjustable equipment to help you lift loads.  If you're on the phone most of the day, try a headset.  If you work at a computer, make sure that your monitor and chair are positioned properly.  Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching.
  • Listen to your body. If you must sit or stand for a prolonged period, change your position often.  Try taking a 30-second break every 15 minutes to stretch, move or relax.  Or, stand up, stretch and change positions each time you answer the phone, make a call or do another routine task.
  • Minimize hazards. Falls can seriously injure your back.  Remove anything from your work space that might cause you to trip.  Consider wearing low-heeled shoes with nonslip soles.
  • Address stress. Stress can make you tense and prone to injury.  Use positive coping mechanisms, such as deep-breathing exercises, taking a walk around the block or talking about your frustrations with a trusted friend, to handle stress in a healthy way.

Back pain can plague your workdays and free time.  You're not stuck with it, though.  Take time to examine your work environment and address the situations that might aggravate your back.  Even simple steps to ease back pain are steps in the right direction.

References

By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

Swimming pools require frequent application of disinfectants and other pool chemicals, and exposure to these chemicals can cause illness and injury.

During 2002-2008, an estimated 28,071 cases of illness or injury associated with pool disinfectants and other pool chemicals occurred nationally (an average of 4,010 cases per year). Most cases occurred at private residences. In the six states (California, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Texas) participating in the Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risk (SENSOR) Program, 40% of cases were work-related, 9% of which involved loss of 1 or more days from work 1 . The most frequently identified causes of illness or injury were mixing incompatible chemicals, spills and splashes of pool chemicals, lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use, lack of proper training and supervision, and dust clouds or fumes generated by opening a pool chemical container.

In order to prevent these injuries and illnesses, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes the following training recommendations:

  • Train all staff in pool chemical safety basics.
  • Provide additional training to staff working with pool chemicals.
  • Include at least the following topics in pool operator training/certification to decrease the likelihood of pool chemical–associated injuries in aquatic–facility staff and patrons:  
    • Impact of each pool chemical on the water’s chemistry and the monitoring systems  
      • If the test kit’s limit is exceeded, how to measure higher chlorine levels (for example, using dilution or higher range test strips).
    • Layout of a safe chemical storage area and pump room
    • Calculation of pool volume
    • Calculation of appropriate amount of pool chemicals needed
    • Safe chemical storage and handling practices  
      • For example: 1) protect individual pool chemicals from mixing together or with other substances and 2) use PPE while handling chemicals.
      • Check out Federal and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Michigan OSHA resources.
    • Basics of preventive and safe maintenance of equipment  
      • For example: 1) close pool to swimmers if recirculation system not running and 2) use PPE when working on equipment that contains or circulates pool chemicals.
    • First aid for pool chemical exposures
    • Develop an emergency response plan which includes:
      • Spill-cleanup procedure
      • Chemical accident and exposure response
      • Clear chain of command and alternates with contact information
      • Evacuation plan
      • Communication plan for alerting patrons, staff, and emergency responders
    • Train the staff on the procedures in the emergency response plan.  
      • Keep a copy of the emergency response plan near the chemical storage area, pump room, and pool area, and ensure that another copy is also available at a remote location in case of an evacuation.
      • Ensure up-to-date MSDSs are easily accessible to first responders in case of evacuation.
      • Have a phone with updated emergency numbers in case of an evacuation.
      • Practice emergency response with first responders.

In order to ensure that your staff receives proper training and maintains competency, it is recommended that they obtain the Certified Pool/Spa Operator® (CPO®) certification offered by National Swimming Pool Foundation 2 certified instructors.   The CPO® certification course is designed to provide the basic knowledge, techniques, and skills of pool and spa operations including safe storage and use of chemicals.

References:

  1. CDC. Acute Illness and Injury from Swimming Pool Disinfectants and Other Chemicals --- United States, 2002—2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011; 60(39):1343-7.
  2. National Swimming Pool Foundation at www.nspf.org
By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

In 2012, federal OSHA amended the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200); and effective December 21, 2012, Michigan adopted the amended federal standard by reference.  

The amendments essentially modify the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to closely align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

OSHA has concluded this improved information will enhance the effectiveness of the HCS in ensuring that employees are apprised of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed, and in reducing the incidence of chemical-related occupational illnesses and injuries.

The modifications to the standard include: 

  • Revised criteria for classification of chemical hazards.
  • Revised labeling provisions that include requirements for use of standardized signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements.  A specified format for safety data sheets (SDSs).
  • Related revisions to definitions of terms used in the standard.
  • Requirements for employee training on labels and safety data sheets (SDSs). 

OSHA and MIOSHA are also modifying provisions of other standards, including standards for flammable and combustible liquids, process safety management, and most substance-specific health standards, to ensure consistency with the modified HCS requirements.  The consequences of these modifications will be to improve safety and to facilitate global harmonization of standards.  The MIOSHA standards may be found at www.michigan.gov/mioshastandards .

Additionally, OSHA and MIOSHA are requiring that employees are trained on the new label elements (i.e., pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements, and signal words) and SDS format by December 1, 2013 , while full compliance with the final rule will begin in 2015. American workplaces will soon begin to receive labels and SDSs that are consistent with the GHS, since many American and foreign chemical manufacturers have already begun to produce HazCom 2012/GHS-compliant labels and SDSs. It is important to ensure that when employees begin to see the new labels and SDSs in their workplaces they will be familiar with them, understand how to use them, and access the information effectively.  

Various free resources are available from MIOSHA’s website:

  • Hazard Communication Employee Training Power Point Program (including GHS revisions)
  • Hazard Communication Sample Plan
  • Hazard Communication - Aligning with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)
  • MIOSHA Standards Affected by the New GHS/Hazard Communication Standard
  • MIOSHA Regulated Area Signs Affected by the New GHS/Hazard Communication Standard
  • Right To Know Hazard Communication Compliance Guide
  • Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Location Poster
  • New/Revised Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Poster
  • LESS DVD/Video Lending Library currently has two DVD's on GHS that you can request on loan:
    • GHS Globalize Your Communication #1072
    • HazCom And The Global Harmonizing System: Employee Training #1068
By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

Do employees or contractors you hire perform work at elevations using ladders, scaffolds or lifts?   Do they clean gutters, trim trees, perform minor roofing repairs, change lighting, paint at heights, etc.?   If so, then the preventive measures taken can greatly reduce their chance of a fatal injury.

Background

Before discussing methods of preventing “falls from elevations,” let us put the issue into context with a focus on the revised 2011 workplace fatality data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which report that 4,609 workers were killed on the job.  

  • Fatal falls, slips, or trips took the lives of 666 workers in 2011, or about 14% of all fatal work injuries.   Falls to “lower level” accounted for 541 of those fatalities.  
  • The height of the fall was reported in 451 of the 541 fatal falls from elevation.   Of those 451 fatal cases:
    • 115 occurred after a fall of 10 feet or less .  
    • 118 occurred from a fall of over 30 feet .  
    • 38 occurred after fall from collapsing structure or equipment.
    • Fall through surface or existing opening (e.g., skylights, hatches, etc.) totaled 60.  

In the state of Michigan during a five year period from 2006 to 2010, falls accounted for 22% of the more than 181 workplace fatalities investigated by MIOSHA.   In construction, the number is even higher at 29% of fatalities investigated.

Additionally, within the last 3 years, MIOSHA and OSHA have reported that fall protection and scaffolding violations are the top 2 cited standards.   Ladder violations range from #5 to #9 within the ranking of most cited violations. Both agencies continue to dedicate a greater degree of enforcement and training focus in these areas.

Real-Life Examples

Let’s look at some real-life examples of fatal falls:

  • A 43-year-old Carpenter was working on a ladder that barely reached the roof edge. The base of the ladder slipped away in the ice and snow, causing the employee to fall 8 feet.
  • A 33-year-old Laborer was working near the edge of a roof.   When he pulled on an electrical cord to power a screw gun, he lost his balance and fell off the roof 28 feet to the ground below.
  • A 56-year-old Laborer was climbing the corner suspension portion of a scaffold not designed for climbing and fell 8 feet to the ground.   The appropriate access ladder was brought to the site the next day.
  • A 31-year-old Service Technician was repairing telephone strand from a 28-foot portable ladder.   The ladder hooks were not fully engaged on the wire terminal.   He fell off the ladder to the ground.
  • A 46-year-old Landscaping Employee stringing decorative lights climbed a tree to about 30 feet above the ground.   The employee fell from the tree and died 18 days later from multiple injuries.

Preventing Falls

The following preventive practices, while not exhaustive, provide the fundamental basis for an effective program:

  • Understand if the work being performed is considered construction or service, and which safety standards apply.   See below the list of safety standards that will likely apply.
  • Conduct a job hazard analysis (JHA) to determine the safest way to do the job and select the right tools and equipment.
  • Conduct safety training.
  • Use guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, or appropriate restraints when exposed to a fall hazard.
  • Place guardrails around skylights and place solid covers on roof openings.
  • Cover or guard floor holes or openings immediately.
  • Survey existing structures to ensure surfaces are safe to walk on.
  • Ensure ladders are appropriate and long enough to do the job.   Secure ladders at the top whenever possible.   Do not stand on the top two steps.
  • Inspect equipment before use and do not use when damaged or defective.
  • Follow safety rules and instructions.
  • Look out for co-workers and tell them when you see something unsafe.
  • Select qualified contractors and vendors that ensure their employees work safely.

MIOSHA Standards That Apply to Fall Prevention:   www.michigan.gov/mioshastandards

Construction

  • Part 6, Personal Protective Equipment
  • Part 12, Scaffolds & Scaffold Platforms
  • Part 21, Guarding of Walking & Working Surfaces
  • Part 26 , Steel Erection
  • Part 32, Aerial Work Platforms
  • Part 45 , Fall Protection

General Industry

  • Part 2, Floor & Wall Openings, Stairways & Skylights
  • Part 5, Scaffolding
  • Part 33, Personal Protective Equipment
  • Part 53, Tree Trimming & Removal
  • Part 58, Vehicle Mounted Elevating Platforms
By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

Each year, a large number of slip/trip and fall incidents occur in parking lots and adjacent walking surfaces that result in serious and, in some cases, fatal injuries.  

Consider these statistics:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one million Americans suffer a slip/trip and fall injury and over 17,000 people die in the U.S. annually because of these injuries.  
  • Slip/trip and falls make up 15% of all work related injuries, which account for between 12% and 15% of all Workers' Compensation expenses.
  • The CDC estimates that 20% to 30% of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries.
  • Slip and fall accidents are the common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and these account for 46% of fatal falls among older Americans.  
  • Accident studies indicate that almost 80% of slips and falls due to snow and ice occur in parking lots or on sidewalks; more than 50% occur in the morning between 6:00 a.m. and noon.

In this article, we will review how parking lot/walking surface maintenance and response to weather conditions can prevent slip/trip and fall injuries in your workplace.

Parking Lot/Walking Surface Maintenance

Establish a formal inspection program to identify current hazards and to plan for necessary maintenance, which should include at least the following:  

  • Check regularly for cracks, depressions and uneven surfaces especially at the transition between asphalt and concrete walkways.   Sealing cracks can reduce frost heaves and extend the life of your lot.   Hazards such as potholes and broken walking surfaces are readily identifiable and should be corrected as quickly as possible before an incident occurs.  
  • Inspect light bulbs and replacement, if necessary.   It may often be dark when employees arrive and leave during the winter, and reduced visibility can increase risk.
  • Paint curbs, islands, ramps, wheel stops and other elevation changes a contrasting color with slip resistant paint. If at all possible, Do Not use wheel stops.
  • Provide curb cutouts that are slip resistant and meet ADA guidelines.
  • Ensure drain covers and utility grates are flush with walking surfaces with no openings in the grate greater than one inch.
  • Ensure that roof drains do not discharge across sidewalks or into parking areas.
  • Maintain awnings or canopies over stairs and entranceways.
  • Conduct thorough incident investigations and review of loss trends to discover the underlying causes of your slip/trip and falls in your workplace.   Eliminating the root causes will prevent recurrence.

Response to Weather Conditions

Slip/trip and falls can occur in parking lots at any time of year, but the winter months tend to have the highest frequency of these injuries because of rain, ice, and snow.   An effective response is removal of ice and snow completely before employees arrive for work and continued removal throughout the day.   A Snow and Ice Removal Program is the best way to achieve this objective.   Be sure that your program, at a minimum, allows for the following:

  • Assigning a Program Coordinator.   Ensure this person clearly understands all the responsibilities of the role.
  • Clear parking lots of snow and ice before employees arrive.  
  • Push snow in parking lots when it reaches a depth of 3 inches.   Push it to the low end of the lot or as close to drains as possible to reduce drainage, which can refreeze. Keep piles away from exits, which can obscure a driver’s view entering and exiting the lot.
  • Walkways, stairways and ramps should be completely cleared of snow and ice.  
  • Entranceways need special attention because moisture can be tracked into facilities where tile and other surfaces can get slippery.   Provide extra walk-off mats during heavy snows.   Install wet floor signs to warn employees and visitors about the increased slip hazard.
  • Use deicers to treat icy pavements.   Salts, such as sodium chloride and calcium chloride, are the most common.
  • Use abrasives, such as sand, to provide traction for pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Pay particular attention to north facing sides of buildings, which receive less sunlight and tend to stay frozen much longer.
  • If outside contractors are used, the contract should be explicit about responsibilities, timing and priorities.
  • Require employees to wear slip resistant footwear.   Rubber soled shoes or boots are less likely to slip on icy surfaces than leather soled shoes or high heels.   Worn soles increase the likelihood of slipping.   Also, wide arrays of ice traction devices are available from suppliers, which are highly effective.
By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

On average, 13% of the U.S. population gets the flu every year, with active flu seasons seeing closer to 20%, or more than 62 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition to the 100 million work days lost due to flu-related illness last season, more than one-third of those days would have been uncompensated with the costs borne by the employee, resulting in $6.8 billion in lost wages.

When it comes to sick time and employers' costs, nearly two-thirds of total missed work days would have been employer-paid, resulting in a cost of more than $10 billion to companies' bottom lines due to lost productivity.  In addition to missed work days, nearly 2 million business trips were canceled last season, based on survey projections.

So, how can the effects of the 2013-2014 influenza season be mitigated in your workplace?  In large part, by making use of the following three (3) methods:

  1. Vaccination - CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.  While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. 

Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.  The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season.  Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February.  However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

Flu vaccines are designed to protect against three influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season.  Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: Influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses.  Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.

Everyday preventive steps will help to reduce the spread of germs:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  2. Stay home when you are sick.   If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.   You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.   It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  4. Clean your hands to help protect from germs.   If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.   Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits.   Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill.   Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Flu antiviral drugs  that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.  If you get sick, there are drugs that can treat flu illness.  They are called antiviral drugs and they can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster.  They also can prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia.

As an employer, consider implementing these specific CDC-recommended strategies this flu season.

Strategy 1: Host a flu vaccination clinic in the workplace.  

To minimize absenteeism, employers frequently offer onsite seasonal flu vaccination to employees at no or low cost to their employees.  This option can work well if the employer has an on-site occupational health clinic.  If you don’t have a clinic, pharmacies and community vaccinators can be contracted to provide seasonal flu vaccination services on-site. 

Strategy 2: Promote flu vaccination in the community. 

Make sure your employees know where they and their family can get seasonal flu vaccination in the community.  Find out about health providers, pharmacies or clinics that offer seasonal flu vaccinations in your community.  Partner with a pharmacy or provider to get your employees vaccinated.

Visit www.flu.gov for additional resources on preventing influenza.

By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

Natural gas is one of the safest energy sources available to homeowners and businesses alike. By itself, natural gas will not ignite. For ignition to occur, a mixture of gas between four and 14 percent must combine with air. Also, gas must have an ignition source with a temperature of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit or more before it will ignite.

Natural gas has no odor. We add a harmless chemical with a distinctive, rotten egg odor to gas to make it easily identifiable. Sure, it smells bad! But in case of a leak, you'll know to call MichCon for service. Our response time to gas leaks is among the best in the industry.

While natural gas is not toxic (like any other fossil fuel), it can produce carbon monoxide (CO) if it does not burn completely. That's why all flues and chimneys should be clear of debris and all natural gas appliances should be in good operating condition. We recommend an annual appliance inspection and installing at least one CO detector in the home.

Every year, MichCon personnel survey 12, 800 miles of distribution pipeline - about two-thirds of the entire system. In addition to verifying overall system integrity these surveys help us identify small leaks so we can assess their potential impact and take appropriate measures to manage, repair or eliminate them as necessary. All mains and service lines are surveyed at least every three years. Cast iron mains and all lines in areas classified as business districts are surveyed once every year.

Natural gas service lines which supply gas to homes and businesses are often buried in easements and on private property. The use of sharp tools can damage these lines, causing injury or loss of service. Before doing any digging, call MISS DIG at 811.

Your safety is our priority. We operate and maintain more than 2,400 miles of high-pressure natural gas transmission lines in Michigan. Read our brochure, Sharing Responsibility for Natural Gas Pipeline Safety *, for tips on identifying a natural gas pipeline and what to do if a pipeline is damaged, a leak occurs or if you must dig in the vicinity of a gas line

Safety Rules

Here are a few rules to follow to help keep you and your employees safe:

  • Follow manufacturer's instructions in the care and operation of gas-fired equipment.
  • Have qualified contractors handle natural gas-related repair and installation jobs.
  • Keep all combustible materials away from the flame of your gas equipment. Keep burners and surrounding surfaces clean.
  • Make sure the flues of automatically controlled equipment are corrosion-free, securely attached, and correctly vented.
  • Don't block air vents. Gas equipment requires air to burn fuel completely and operate efficiently. A yellowish flame can signal improper operation..
  • Do not operate gas-fueled equipment in an unventilated space.

Gas Leak Safety

If you smell gas...

Gas leaks are dangerous. It's important that you know how to recognize and report a gas emergency.

Natural gas is odorless and colorless, so we add a harmless substance to it to make it smell like rotten eggs. Why? So you can easily detect a gas leak.

If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak:

A note about our gas leak emergency service

MichCon's special gas leak hotline is 800.947.5000. This number is designated for gas leak reporting only. Operators can not take or transfer calls relating to other topics. Customers can also dial 800.477.4747 and follow the automated prompts to report a gas leak. MichCon has emergency service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

MichCon is recognized as a nationwide industry leader for its quick response to reported gas leaks by the American Gas Association. MichCon strives to provide exceptional and safe service to our customers.

Before you Dig, Call MISS Dig

Annually there are about 10,000 dig-in damages to underground utility lines in Michigan. If you dig up underground utilities, you could disrupt service to your home or your neighbors' homes. You could be fined for the damages. Most importantly of all, you could be putting your safety at risk.

If you plan to use power equipment to dig foundations or post holes, install an in-ground pool or sprinkler system, or plant landscaping, it's important you follow these four steps to Raise the Flags and dig safely.

  1. Call MISS DIG  at 811 or 800.482.7171

It's fast, it's free, it's the law. Calling MISS DIG before every job that involves excavating is your first step toward finishing the job safely!

  1. Wait until the flags are raised

Wait at least three business days after calling MISS DIG for local utilities to locate and raise flags over their underground lines.

  1. Expose utility lines by hand digging

Don't make assumptions about the depth and location of utility lines. Dig by hand to expose the lines before using power equipment. Be sure to dig carefully; a sharp shovel can do a lot of unintentional damage.

  1. Respect the flags

Leave the flags in place until your underground work is complete. Make sure children and neighbors know not to remove the flags until the work is done. Avoid driving or parking heavy vehicles or storing construction materials over utility lines when possible.

Keep your work crews safe, keep the public safe and help protect our underground lines. Raise the Flags before you dig!

By chelseajaie 02 Aug, 2016

According to the American Gas Association (AGA), more than 60 million customers use natural gas in homes and businesses in the United States.   Current estimates indicate that natural gas provides about 24 percent of all the energy that is used across the nation.

Along with the AGA, DTE Energy describes natural gas as one of the safest energy sources available to homeowners and businesses alike for these reasons:

  • Natural gas will not ignite by itself.   For ignition to occur, a mixture of gas between 4 and 14 percent must combine with air.   Also, gas must have an ignition source with a temperature of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit or more before it will ignite.
  • Natural gas is lighter than air, so it usually will safely rise and disperse into the air if it is allowed to vent freely.
  • While natural gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless, it is combined with a chemical called mercaptan to help you detect even the smallest amount of gas leaking into the air.   The odor of mercaptan is similar to rotten eggs.

But, even with this in mind, it is very important to understand natural gas and to be aware of safety tips concerning its use.   Most accidents occur because of lack of knowledge that leads to unsafe equipment/appliances and work practices, not because natural gas itself is unsafe.

So, let’s focus on gas pilot lights and some important safety tips.  

As many know, a pilot light is a small flame that is kept alight constantly in order to serve as an ignition source for a gas burner.   They are used on many gas appliances, such as water heaters, clothes dryers, central heating systems, fireplaces and stoves.   When the appliance is turned on, a valve releases more gas, which is ignited by the pilot light.  

A pilot light may need to be re-lit from time to time after being extinguished on purpose or by accident.   If it is accidentally extinguished, there exists a danger that the gas used to keep the flame lit will continue to vent, possibly into the living space.   If this leak continues, its concentration may reach a point where a spark – such as that from a cigarette lighter, static electricity, or even the pilot light itself as it is re-lit – will cause a fire or even an explosion.  

Numerous injuries have been reported when people have tried to re-light a pilot light after the appliance’s malfunctioning sensor failed to stop the flow of gas into the room.   For example, thermocouples are degraded by continued exposure to the pilot light’s flame, which increases their electrical resistance and reduces their effectiveness as flame sensors.  

These important safety tips can be followed in both our workplaces and homes:

  • If the pilot light of an appliance goes out, turn off the gas at the appliance for several minutes before attempting to re-light it.   Instructions should be attached to the appliance.  
  • Pilot lights and main burners on gas appliances should always produce a blue flame.   If the flame is yellow or red, service is required as soon as possible.
  • Use a gas appliance only for its intended purpose.   An oven, for example, should not be used to heat a room.
  • Never store or use flammable liquids (e.g., gasoline, paint, paint thinner, cleaning fluids, aerosols, etc.) in the same room with any gas appliance, or near a flue outlet.
  • Never store combustibles near an appliance with a pilot light or open flame.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the installation and operation of each appliance.
  • Have qualified service personnel install and maintain all gas appliances.   Periodic testing and replacement of devices such as thermocouples will mitigate the hazards posed by pilot light-equipped appliances.
  • Lastly, be aware of the danger from insecticide “bug bombs” and foggers.   A number of residences and businesses are destroyed every year when a pilot light ignites the explosive gasses released from these devices:
    • A fire erupted at an Ohio residence after a man placed a roach fumigator under his kitchen sink and the fumes reached his oven’s pilot light.  
    • A residence in San Diego was filled with so much gas from 19 foggers that the pilot light destroyed the home and launched shrapnel into the street.  
    • A Thai restaurant in Australia released 36 foggers creating enough gas to blow the roof off the building in a massive explosion that hospitalized three men and caused $500,000 in damages when an oven's pilot light ignited the gas released from the foggers.

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