Green Job Hazards: Biofuels - Fire and Explosion Hazards

Employers producing Biofuels may expose workers to potential fire and explosion hazards, and protect them from these hazards by preventing releases, avoiding ignition of spills, and having appropriate fire protection systems and emergency response procedures.

Engineering controls should be used, including:

  • Good facility layout,
  • Proper design of vessels and piping systems,
  • Proper selection of electrical equipment for use in hazardous (classified) areas,
  • Adequate instrumentation with alarms, interlocks, and shutdowns.

Administrative controls should be used, including:

  • Operating procedures,
  • Good maintenance practices, and
  • Safe work procedures.

Facilities processing more than 10,000 pounds of flammable liquids or flammable mixtures may be covered by 29 CFR 1910.119, Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (PSM). More information on this standard in preventing catastrophic incidents, including those involving flammability hazards, can be found in OSHA publication 3132 and in The OSHA Process Safety Management web page. Additionally, there are a number of OSHA standards that address these potential hazards, including:

Essentially all facilities handling flammable or combustible liquids fall under 29 CFR 1910.106, Flammable and Combustible Liquids. This standard has specific requirements for storage tank and piping construction and spacing.

Hazards that are not addressed by specific OSHA standards still need to be controlled. Under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act – the “General Duty Clause,” employers are required to provide workers with a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

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