Posts Tagged ‘combustible dust safety’

Hughes Environmental Wins Safety Award

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

NADCA Safety AwardLOUISVILLE, KY (May 22, 2012) – For the sixth year in a row, Hughes Environmental, a commercial duct cleaning company based in Louisville, Kentucky, has received the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association’s “Outstanding Safety Award”. Winners of the Outstanding Safety Award have maintained little to no instances of employee injury for three or more consecutive years.

The requirements for the Safety Award are based on standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Companies who apply for the award must have completed OSHA #300A Log in accordance with requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and have met safety guidelines as stipulated by NADCA to receive the honor.
“Safety isn’t just a buzzword for us. It’s part of our day-to-day routine when working with combustible dust and HVAC system cleaning,” said Chuck Cooper, Director of Business Development for Hughes Environmental. “We’re proud to have received this award every year that we’ve been in business.”

In early 2005 Gail Walkiewicz and Craig Rutledge started Hughes Environmental, Inc. to service the commercial duct cleaning and rafter and ceiling cleaning needs of clients in the eastern half of the United States. Hughes Environmental has seen strong growth since its inception as a result of superior customer service and a staff comprised of multiple NADCA Certified “Air System Cleaning Specialist”, ACAC “Certified Mold Remediators”, and “Certified Indoor Environmentalist”.
For more information please contact Jen Bryant at 888-845-3952 or

Employee Confessions: Why Workers Don’t Report Combustible Dust Safety Issues

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Safety is job #1. Safety is everyone’s job. Safety, safety, safety. If you’ve got posters in your workplace with one of these slogans, you’re not alone. So if those sayings really ring true, why aren’t employees reporting combustible dust incidents at the workplace?

Small fires or mini-explosions aren’t reported many times for the same reason as other safety issues. No one got hurt, it didn’t seem like a big deal, or it doesn’t seem like the issue was important enough to take the time to do paperwork. But usually, these incidents are a precursor to something larger, and can serve as a warning sign to a potentially dangerous situation. That’s why it’s important to create a culture where employees feel comfortable reporting incidents, and where they understand the importance of reporting safety issues—even if it seems insignificant.

I recently spoke with Harry, one of the boilermakers at a large railroad in Chattanooga, Tennessee, regarding some of the reasons he thinks that some employees don’t report safety issues. He says that there are many reasons, but he highlighted a few specific things that tend to keep employees quiet.

They don’t want to seem like a tattle-tale, or seem to be griping (especially if they’re trying to move up the corporate ladder). Telling the boss that something isn’t safe may make an employee feel like they’re complaining, when really, it’s just a way to keep themselves and others out of harm’s way. It’s important to make sure your team knows the difference, and that they know their OSHA Safety Rights

Sometimes they aren’t aware or educated. This, Harry points out, is the company’s fault. He says that an employer telling the worker that there is an MSDS isn’t enough, when most times they don’t give the worker time to read it and understand it. Make sure your workers have the time and resources to understand any safety information associated with their jobs, including the MSDS.

Good old fashioned peer pressure: They don’t want to admit to being afraid of something in front of peers. Sure, there are egos at stake, but the consequence is too great to not report safety issues. One way companies can handle this is with regular Toolbox Talks, where everyone is encouraged to share safety stories and issues, so no one is singled out.

Sometimes there has already been an accident but those involved can’t pass a drug test and don’t want to lose their jobs. It’s a shocking reality, but a reality nonetheless. If no one is around, there might be no way to know when these accidents occur. Be on the lookout for unreported damage to equipment, and be sure to investigate any findings.

If the company has a history of not listening or responding, the employees think reporting is useless. When your workers take the time to report an issue, it’s for the safety of themselves, the building, and everyone in it. It’s critical to acknowledge this—and act. If they’ve tried to fix a safety problem in the past with no response from decision makers, it’s unlikely they’ll continue to speak up in the future.

Harry is lucky that his company culture is one that looks at safety as a priority, not just a buzzword. “One of the safety slogans at the railroad—and there are stickers of this everywhere, and on every locomotive, is ‘there is no job so important, or service so urgent, that we cannot take the time to do it safely’.” At Hughes Environmental, we feel the same way. (We’ve even won the NADCA Outstanding Achievement Safety Award every year we’ve been in business.)

Training is an important part of worker safety, and so is proper equipment. Giving employees the resources they need to stay safe with combustible dust is the difference between a safe job and a potential catastrophe. Proper clothing, grounded equipment, including hoses and lifts, and intrinsically safe vacuums are some of the tools our technicians use to do combustible dust remediation safely.

Please make sure your employees are reporting combustible dust fires, explosions and hazards, or any other safety issues in your facility. Even if they’re small, they could be significant.

For more information on combustible dust safety, visit

Don't try this at home.

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

As we approach seasonal shut down time for many industrial plants and facilities, we’ve been getting more calls for combustible dust cleaning estimates. It’s great that companies are becoming more aware of this growing hazard, and moving forward with creating safer working environments for their employees. For some companies, especially smaller ones, it may seem like a good idea to go ahead and clean it themselves. If they can spare a worker and a shop vac for a day, it’s cheaper, and that should get it done, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

OSHA’s Safety and Health Information Bulletin called Combustible Dust in Industry:  Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions says to clean dust residues at regular intervals, use cleaning methods that do not generate dust clouds if ignition sources are present, and only use vacuum cleaners approved for dust collection. When I hear companies say they’re going to “just blow it down ourselves,” it makes my heart jump. It’s dangerous at best, and can create a dust cloud that’s susceptible to ignition. One small spark is all it takes to create a catastrophe.

Sometimes we hear of companies that decide just to vacuum up combustible dust accumulation. They’ve got a shop vac, and they can do it in-house. Is the person doing the vacuuming wearing flame resistant clothing? Checking for no exposed steel on their shoes? Is that shop vac suitable for NEC 500 Class II hazardous atmospheres? Do they meet the NFPA 70 requirements for grounding/bonding? Is it intrinsically safe? Didn’t think so. Regular vacuums are a risk for sparking hazards, and sometimes create combustible dust clouds themselves. (Not to mention that they’re not that great at picking up the fine dust and heavier materials.)

Please don’t try to clean combustible dust accumulation hazards with compressed air or traditional vacuuming or sweeping. Enlist the help of a professional who has experience in combustible dust remediation. Chances of creating an even bigger risk of explosion during the cleaning process is too great without the right equipment and methods. This will help you avoid fines and help keep your employees safe.