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  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management
  • (formerly Directorate of Science, Technology and Medicine)
  • Office of Science and Technology Assessment

OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins
Potential Fire with Fluorescent Light Bulbs within Plastic Tubes


July 15, 1997

MEMORANDUM FOR:

REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

THROUGH:

  • FRANK STRASHEIM
  • Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary

FROM:

  • STEVEN F. WITT
  • Director
  • Directorate of Technical Support

SUBJECT:

  • Hazard Information Bulletin1 - Potential Fire with Fluorescent Light Bulbs within Plastic Tubes

The Consumer Product Safety Commission informed us that the fire department of Plymouth, Massachusetts noted that fluorescent light bulbs with protective plastic sleeves used in some bagel or donut display cases may cause a fire. The protective plastic sleeve covering is designed to protect food from broken glass in the event a bulb breaks.

The potential for this lighting system to overheat and cause a fire was discovered during an investigation of a fire in Plymouth, Massachusetts. During this investigation, the Plymouth Fire Department discovered that the two pins at one end of the bulb were not properly seated in the socket. Therefore, the fire investigator noted that the fire hazard appears to be due to the improper installation of the fluorescent light bulb in its socket. That is, if the pins at the ends of the fluorescent bulbs are not properly seated in the socket, the exposed pins can heat up and melt the black end caps and then the plastic sleeve covering (protective covering) surrounding the fluorescent bulb, and thereby create a fire hazard, as it occurred in Plymouth.

According to the Plymouth Fire Department, the plastic tube was manufactured by Tri Lite Plastic, Falsington, Pa. The display cases were made by Monarch Industries, Inc., Providence, RI and provided by Paramount Restaurant Supply Corporation. As a result of the incident, Paramount and Monarch manufacturers voluntarily replaced the fluorescent light bulbs that were equipped with protective sleeve coverings and end caps with a shatterproof bulb that is easier to install, in order to eliminate this potential fire hazard. This corrective action should eliminate the hazard. Some small shop owners, however, have not yet corrected the problem, and workers in those shops could be exposed to a fire hazard.

Please distribute this bulletin to all area offices, State Plan States, Consultation Projects and appropriate local, labor and industry associations. Copies of this HIB may be used for outreach Purposes.


1 The Directorate of Technical Support issues Hazard Information Bulletins (HIBs) in accordance with OSHA Instruction CPL 2.65 to provide relevant information regarding unrecognized or misunderstood health hazards, inadequacies of materials, devices, techniques, and safety engineering controls. HIBs are initiated based on information provided by the field staff, studies, reports and concerns expressed by safety and health professionals, employers, and the public. Information is complied based on a thorough evaluation of available facts, literature and in coordination with appropriate parties.

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