Previously, we have discussed the advantages of using a portable Class D extinguisher instead of a pail and a scoop or shovel. We have outlined when and how to use extra agent so we can safely say, “extinguisher and pails together are OK, if you choose only one method make it an extinguisher”. But what help, if any, is available to you to make this more detailed presentation worth your time? Please read these very clear Federal requirements and remember that State and Local Authorities Having Jurisdiction can tighten these OSHA requirements but they can’t lessen them.
OSHA in 29 CFR, Chapter XVII 1910.57(6) says:
“The employer shall distribute portable fire extinguishers or other containers of Class D extinguishing agent for use by employees so that the travel distance from the combustible metal working area to any extinguishing agent is 75 feet (22.9 m) or less. Portable fire extinguishers for Class D hazards are required in those combustible metal working areas where combustible metal powders, flakes, shavings, or similarly sized products are generated at least once every two weeks.”
There are two very specific points to be noted here:
1. Even if a machining or process operation only deals with combustible metals once every two weeks a hand portable is required. That’s not very often.
2. Even if a machining or process operation deals with combustible metals less frequently than every two weeks and even though OSHA says a scoop and shovel is fine under those conditions, isn’t the real factor the amount of combustible metal not the frequency of use of combustible metals? Will 10 lbs. of magnesium burn less and be controlled easier because it’s used once a month? Of course not, so make sure that you review fire extinguishers, scoop and shovel, safety equipment, and training thoroughly with your customer.
Now there are three things to remember about Class D hazards – partnership, training and communication – in order to help your customer maintain a safe work environment.
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