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R&R Insurance Blog

4 Questions You Need To Ask To Manage Classroom Storage And Reduce Work Comp Claims

Posted by Mike Walden

As you consider the safety of your classrooms, storage will almost always be a hot button issue with teachers and staff members alike. From textbooks to art supplies, teachers are challenged with organizing their classroom assets and maintaining a functional learning environment, making the most of tight quarters.

We encourage you to take a look at your unique classroom storage scenarios and approach each storage challenge with a focus on safety and injury prevention. As you tour your school classrooms, here are a few questions you should ask.

How Did It Get Up There?

If you encounter supply boxes stacked up to their ceiling, your first concern might be whether those items will fall, and rightly so. But if you are focusing on long-term safety and wellbeing, you also need to consider how those items were stacked in the first place. Did a teacher climb on a chair or desk to stack the items? Did the teacher lift a heavy object over their head? To minimize workers’ compensation claims and injury hazards in the classroom, you’ll need to consider each scenario from every safety point of view.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

R&R Insurance believes in providing advice and resources to help schools minimize risks in the classroom. When it comes to classroom storage, we often encourage schools to create a storage policy that outlines a few key factors, including:

  • Appropriate items to be stored
  • Safe storage locations
  • Height restrictions on storage items
  • Weight limits on stacked items
  • Staff assigned to move heavy objects
  • Proper lifting procedures

With a policy in place, you can educate your staff members on best practices to help minimize injury and maintain a safe learning environment.

How Will It Come Down Safely?

If you see a hazard in a classroom your first instinct will often be to correct or eliminate the problem immediately. If items are stacked in a classroom, how can you remove those items safety? You might also question how the teacher was planning to safely remove the items and what standards you have in place to appropriately manage such hazards.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

Focusing on being proactive, R&R Insurance would recommend educating staff members on proper storage protocol. If you draft a policy on who can add and remove items from storage spaces, you can ensure that appointed staff members follow proper safety recommendations. Simple things like using an approved ladder to reach an overhead item instead of standing on a chair, or using proper lifting technique, are very important safety considerations. By placing a focus on proper procedure, you can minimize injury risks in the classroom.

How Heavy Is The Item?

Teachers use a variety of materials to teach and demonstrate in the classroom, each with its own inherent risks. Consider the weight of classroom objects and assess the injury potential of each object.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

We certainly understand that it is not always realistic to ask approved personnel to manage adding or removing items from storage. Placing size and weight specifications in your storage policy will provide your teaching staff with some flexibility to access items as needed, without asking for assistance. Consider a weight limit that teachers can lift without assistance and set safety protocols for your staff members who are responsible for lifting heavy items.

How Likely Is It The Item Will Fall?

There is always a potential for injury if items in storage have the potential to fall. Improperly stacked items, or awkwardly shaped materials, like microscopes, can often present a challenge for teachers in the classroom. Assessing the potential for injury is an important step in classroom safety maintenance.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

Maintaining a safe classroom really comes down to properly identifying potential hazards and knowing how to safety manage each unique hazard. Your storage policy is a great place to start so everyone understands that safety is a priority. Educating team members on the details of the policy will provide them with the necessary tools to problem solve when hazards arise and ask for assistance when it is required.

At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risks, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today.

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

Financial Impact of Changing Your Work Comp Effective Date

Posted by the knowledge brokers

cash w stethoscopeThere are various reasons as to why a business may try changing their Work Comp policy effective date: matching your Work Comp policy to your fiscal year or Package policy, request by new ownership, or you’re trying to get out of the Pool. Before you start down this road, you should first be looking at the financial impact of making this change.

It’s never as easy as it seems! We worked with a client who changed their effective date in order to make issuing certificates of insurance easier. This ultimately cost them $100,000!

A regular timeline has the Wisconsin Workers Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB) using 36 months of data to determine an experience MOD rate. However, when changing your policy effective date, the WCRB is able to use up to 45 months of data. Say you have had a year or two with costly claims, they will hang on longer due to this process. Remember: the higher the MOD, the more expensive the premium.

It must be noted: an Anniversary Rating Date (ARD) would not allow you to take advantage of a rate or rule change.
Say after looking at business analyses, claims review, and the financial impact of changing the Work Comp effective date, you determine this is the best scenario for your business. Once you begin the process of changing your Work Comp effective date, it will take five years to get back to a regular rating cycle. Not only is this a time consuming process, it could be a very costly process.

The R&R Resource Center works with businesses every day to proactively manage claims, ensure correct analyses are being performed on Work Comp insurance, and educate the pro’s and con’s of changing effective dates. The processes in place help ensure accurate data which ultimately saves you money. Contact us today for a review of your current Risk Management Program.

Topics: Risk Management, Workers Compensation, Resource Center, Business Insurance

How To Protect Your School Against School Intruders

Posted by Jeff Thiel

Providing a safe working and learning environment is one of many responsibilities schools are tasked with every day. Preventative measures and protocols are important components in a school safety plan and should be thoughtfully prepared and executed. While there are many things to consider to safely protect the school premises and those inside, effective security should include: school and premises access restrictions, trained security personnel and adherence to policies intended to prohibit unauthorized entry.

Consider the following recommendations to protect your employees and students from the potential dangers that can accompany workplace intruders.

Security Personnel To Monitor Entrances

For security purposes, post uniformed security personnel at all regularly used entrances. Security personnel will be responsible for restricting building access and sending all visitors to the office area. Before you hire security personnel, complete a full background check.

If your school budget is restricted, consider tasking staff members to monitor entrances during high traffic times, when students are entering and leaving the building. Ask staff members to monitor for adults and ask them for identification. If they encounter a visitor, they should direct the visitor to the office immediately.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: To test your school’s security effectiveness, periodically test how well the security personnel enforce your entry procedures.

Employee Identification Badges

For added safety, you should consider requiring all school employees to wear photo name identification badges at all times. Identification badges will clearly identify permitted individuals so there is no grey area on safe personnel within the school. In addition, this simple step can ensure visitors and students alike will know which qualified personnel to turn to if a problem should arise. Be sure your safety policy includes the retrieval of employee identification badges immediately upon suspension, termination or resignation.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: If employees forget their name badges, there should be protocol on how they are able to identify themselves to security personnel and temporary identification should be provided.

Visitor Registration and Identification Badges

Visitors should register at the school office and log in and out using a visitor log. Visitors should be asked to provide photo identification and let the office receptionist know whom they are visiting and the purpose of their visit. It is important to provide visitors with an identification badge that is clearly visible, so staff and students know the visitor is permitted on the premises. Visitor badges should have a date so they cannot be re-used in the future.

If you are having any construction or maintenance work completed at the school, ensure the crew provides you with a personnel roster and that all visitor badges have an appropriate date range.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: Consider installing a panic button under the office reception desk so the receptionist can discreetly summon help in threatening situations.

Deliveries and Messengers

In your safety policy, consider including safety procedures for deliveries and messengers. You should require that all deliveries be made in-person at the school office.

If deliveries are intended for specific staff members, the office staff should call the named individual to verify the delivery and ensure the items are expected. Do not allow anyone to leave unexpected or undesired items on school grounds.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: In the office, consider having a delivery logbook, where messengers write their name, employer and the date and time of delivery.

Key Control

It is important to establish a key-control system. Consider which employees require a key and what their key should have access to within the school. If a key is lost, consider replacing locks. If an employee is suspended, terminated or resigns, be sure to change keypad combinations and retrieve their key prior to departure.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: Be sure that no single key provides unrestricted access to all areas of the building. Consider having a locked and secure master key locker with a copy of all keys used in the building.

Additional Security Measures to Consider:

Secure Parking Areas

If you can, it is a great safety resource to have video-surveillance in school parking lots. At night, parking lot lighting should be bright enough to both deter trespassers and facilitate video monitoring. If video monitoring is not feasible, consider adding a fence around the school premises and have one single entry point to designated parking areas that can be monitored.

Loading Docks

If your school has a loading dock, it is important that the loading dock area is behind locked doors and does not permit access to the inside of the school building. If possible, consider adding video-surveillance. Before any cargo is left on school property, make sure it has been checked and approved by authorized personnel. Be sure to secure dock areas during periods of inactivity.

With the proper preventative measures in place, your school can be prepared to prevent intruders from gaining unauthorized access to your school. If you feel that your school is not adequately prepared, consider the initial steps you can take to improve school safety and reach out to R&R Insurance to obtain additional resources.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today. At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risks, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

Teacher’s 3-Step Guide For Classroom Safety

Posted by Scott Brookes

Across the nation, schools work diligently to provide a safe learning environment for students and a safe workplace for teachers. Prevention is an essential component to classroom safety, and learning to recognize potential dangers in the classroom is often the first step. With the right tools and guidance, teachers can advocate for prevention and promote a culture of safety.

We have outlined below some basic steps that teachers can take to help ensure safety in the classroom, for themselves and their students.

Consider Weapons of Opportunity

In the heat of an argument, many common classroom objects have the potential to become dangerous weapons. Common classroom items such as sharp scissors, heavy rulers, vases, letter openers, and paperweights could pose a safety risk. Consider storing these items out of site, in a drawer or covered shelving unit. Art, science and vocational teachers should also exercise caution with the variety of items in their classrooms. Sharp tools and instruments should always be safely stored and it is important that all classroom tools are accounted for and safety returned at the end of each class.

Avoid Cleaners and Chemicals In the Classroom

While most household cleaners are relatively non-hazardous, extra caution is needed in the classroom, especially in elementary schools. Students should seldom be exposed to cleaning agents and chemicals; moreover, students should never be asked to use hazardous items in the classroom without proper instruction. Schools should provide all cleaning agents and ensure that they are properly labeled with current material safety data sheets (MSDS) as required by federal safety laws. Specialized personnel should be responsible for all cleanups following the school’s outlined safety policy rules.

Use Extension Cords Safely

Extension cords can present many hazards in the classroom. Aside form the obvious tripping hazard they present; improper use of extension cords is the number one cause of fires. Here are few safety recommendations for proper extension cord use:

  • Inspect each extension cord carefully before each use and before placing in storage. Ensure that the insulation is in good condition and that the grounding prong has not been damaged. Return any damaged cords to building services for repair or disposal.
  • Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Extension cords should not be used for long periods in place of adequate outlets.
  • In your safety policy, ensure there is a provision about acceptable extension cords. All extension cords should be provided by building services and be of commercial grade. Cords must have a grounding prong plug.
  • Never run extension cords under rugs, over ceiling tiles or hang them from nails or staples. This can cause damage to the insulation, making the cord a safety and fire hazard.
  • Avoid using excessive power strips that can overload the circuit and create a fire hazard.

With prevention in mind, these simple steps can help you promote safety in your classroom each day. Learn to recognize potential dangers in the classroom and foster a culture of safety by encouraging others to do the same.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today. At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risks, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

7 Simple Steps to Minimize Slips and Falls In Schools

Posted by Paul Lessila

Each weekday morning there are more than 3.1 million teachers and 49.8 million students rushing into public schools. (National Center for Education Statistics)

With the sheer volume of traffic in and out of schools each morning, revising safety protocols to minimize potential risks, like slips and falls, must be a priority.

You likely strive to continually reinforce your safety policy and communicate the importance of creating a culture of safety and prevention within your school. If you are looking for a way to reduce your costs while maintaining a high standard of safety, you might consider a policy revision. Starting small, consider these seven simple steps you can take in your school to minimize the occurrence of slip and fall accidents.

1. Entry Carpets To Reduce Moisture

As teachers and students travel into the school their shoes bring the outdoors in, be it snow, rain, dirt or muck. During wet or wintery months, it is important that your school entryways have carpets that extend at least six feet to ensure shoes are losing accumulated moisture. This simple measure will keep moisture contained to one manageable area and minimize the slip and fall risk throughout adjacent hallways and classrooms.

2. Outdoor Maintenance Schedule

Establishing a schedule to regularly maintain outdoor walkways, sidewalks and doorways is one way to minimize risk. Coordinating regular intervals for shoveling and salting, and for moisture and debris removal is an easy method to prevent slips and falls.

3. Outdoor Hazard Inspection

It is important to inspect your outdoor school property regularly and keep an eye out for potential hazards. For example, take a few minutes to identify pavement cracks or heaving and if you are unable to repair them right away, spray paint these hazards a bright color to ensure safety for all school visitors.

4. Indoor Maintenance

Whether it is a spill in the art room or a mess in the cafeteria, always ensure that your custodial staff is prepared. Consider the following recommendations:

  • Establish communication protocols to alert custodial staff of a hazard so they can arrive quickly on the scene.
  • Provide custodial staff with the necessary equipment and barricades to keep teachers and students away from known hazards.
  • Ensure custodial staff has ample cleaning and hazard removal supplies on hand.

5. Indoor Hazard Inspection

Much like outdoor inspection, you should consider doing indoor safety inspections regularly, too. Educate all staff members on problems they should look for and solutions to help them prevent accidents. Simple things include identifying extension cords hazards and bundling cords out of traffic areas, and looking out for areas where moisture tends to accumulate, increasing the risk for slips and falls.

6. Storage and Hanging Policies

As a school, you are taught to think first and foremost about the safety and well being of your students. It is however, just as important to consider the safety of your staff members. Classroom storage is an important consideration because improper storage methods can lead to injury and falls. Consider implementing a policy on proper classroom storage and hanging and educate your teaching staff on the do’s and don’ts of storage.

7. Proper Footwear

While it might be difficult to advocate for proper footwear at school to fashion savvy staff and students, but it is a must. Designer shoes are not made for walking in inclement weather and will not bode well for personal safety. Encourage your students and staff to wear sensible, weather-safe shoes into the building and to change their shoes once they are safety indoors. Consider offering your staff members a shoe storage bag to carry their fashionable shoes to and from school and to use as a storage bag for their sensible shoes during the day.

What other simple safety solutions would you recommend to prevent slips and falls? Does your school have best practices?

At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risk, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today.
Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

Beat the Heat: Preventive Measures to Avoid Heat Exhaustion for Your Employees

Posted by John Brengosz

Best practices for employers with outdoor workers:

  • Train employees and supervisors in heat illness prevention, as well as how to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness and what to do if someone exhibits symptoms
  • On days when temperatures require preventive measures, increase the volume of water available to employees. California suggests one quart per hour. It is not enough to simply provide it - workers must be encouraged to drink the water.
  • Have shade available for outdoor workers and allow frequent breaks - at least 5 minutes of rest when an employee believes they need a preventative recovery period.
  • Have the ability to appropriately respond to any employee with symptoms of illness
  • Allow gradual acclimation for workers unaccustomed to working outside - it can take 4 to 14 days
  • Know where the nearest hospital is and directions to your work site in case emergency medical attention is needed

Heat-related resources

Topics: Safety, Risk Management, heat stroke, Resource Center, heat stress, heat exhaustion, Business Insurance, outdoor heat exposure, heat realted injuries for employees

4 Qualities School Administrators & Lab Science Teachers Should Find In A Safety & Liability Coverage Consultant

Posted by Paul Lessila

WI school administrators’ & teachers’ safety & liability concerns involve carrying the responsibility of ensuring students, faculty and community are covered – especially in high risk environments like laboratory science. Schools are faced with unique risks in regard to keeping their environments a safe place for students to learn and grow. Providing the best education and classroom experience should be an educator’s #1 priority and there are resources that allow you to make that the primary focus. Here are 4 qualities that you should look for when evaluating and choosing a safety & liability coverage consultant for your district, school, group or project.


School district risk and claims management requires a specialized expertise in all areas of a school’s operations function. Finding the right consultant for your group should include a representative with experience in education coverages as well as provide you with access to valuable resources that will help you make knowledgeable decisions. Your provider representative should have familiarity with your school setting, faculty and educators that are working in situations that may be considered high risk. Are you in a situation where you see your consultant only once a year or at renewal time? If so, it’s likely they do not have a strong understanding of the risks that are facing your individual students, faculty and property on a daily basis. Choose a consultant that has experience working in the same type of district, school or group setting as you will be working in together. They should also come with strong recommendations and be known for their solid relationships with the administrators, teachers and students they serve.


With experience, comes knowledge. Look for a consultant that has the breadth of knowledge to give expert advice, recommendations and lead you to resources that will provide value to the entire administration and staff. Safety and insurance coverages can be intimidating and complex at times. Having a reliable consultant that acts as an approachable extension of your team could save your district, school or group time and money. Working with a provider that goes above and beyond to create educational opportunities for you and your team will be an invaluable addition to the partnership.


Look for a provider with a mission that aligns with your district or school’s focus on providing the most successful educational experience for your students and the community. Your partner should be someone you trust to put the lives of the people who fall under your policy first as well as do the right things – even when no one is looking. Here’s an example of how Jeff Gross, Director of Business Services with the school district of Menomonee Falls is working with his insurance provider to put the students and community first.

Extensive Options

Your district, school or group faces special needs and issues day-to-day and you want to align with a provider that has a strong understanding of the risk management needs of academic institutions. These coverage needs are constantly evolving. Consultants should offer flexible and comprehensive coverages that protect your assets so your primary focus can be on education. Competitive pricing is of course, is also a factor along with specifically designed school enhancement coverages.

As an administrator or educator, the safety and security of your students, faculty and school environment are at the forefront of responsibilities faced everyday. Finding a safety and liability consultant you can trust will allow you to focus on what’s most important – education. What risks are of biggest concern for your district or classroom and how are you working with your consultant to minimize these risks?

Download the FREE Lab Safety Kit

Topics: Safety, Risk Management, Schools, Paul Lessila, Risk Management Center, amanda gilman, science labs, Resource Center, Lab Safety Guide, School science lab safety, FLINN Lab Safety, Laboratory Safety Institute, Business Insurance, chemical hygiene officer, menomonee falls high school, Client Testimonial Videos, the rainbow experiment, chemistry lab danger

Wisconsin Science Teachers Keep Students Safe In The Lab With 5 Essential Actions

Posted by Paul Lessila

Safety and chemical storage deficiencies are widespread in American schools. In the wake of recent stories about students across the country becoming injured in laboratory incidents, Milwaukee teachers are taking steps to ensure safety regulations are exceeded, colleagues are kept informed and students are safe.

Many regulations are put into place and resources, checklists and tools available for laboratory science teachers through Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Laboratory safety has been at the forefront in many industries but slower to be put into practice in the school setting. The video below shows how Menomonee Fall’s Chemistry Teacher, Amanda Gilman, is taking steps to protect the students and faculty at their school.

Teachers have a responsibility to lead by example and enforce all safety rules and practices. The need to educate students in the sciences, especially chemistry, presents challenges to educators that include safety concerns for students and faculty. Here are 5 critical factors all laboratory science teachers need to take seriously:

1. Take care of the lab & equipment.

How often are you conducting inspections of safety and first aid equipment? Be sure it aligns with what your administration requires. Record dates of when inspections are performed and include your initials on inspection tags. If you find a hazardous or potentially hazardous condition, notify administration and follow through on the status. This is a given, but defective equipment should never be used.

2. Keep good records & maintain chemicals.

It is important to update the chemical inventory at least annually and provide a copy of the list to local emergency responders (fire dept. etc). Consider the following when performing an inventory inspection:

  • Chemicals should not be stored with food or drink
  • Keep chemicals in their original containers
  • Make sure everything is labeled
  • Be sure to dispose of chemicals properly. Check labels and always follow instructions
  • Keep records of all staff safety trainings and any laboratory incidents that may occur

3. Know safety & emergency procedures.

Educate students on the location and use of all safety and emergency equipment prior to laboratory activity. Provide students with safety procedure instructions to follow in the event of an emergency / accident. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers in a designated location. Additionally, know the location of and how to use cut-off switches & valves for water, gas and electricity in the laboratory. Practice safety and evacuation drills on a regular basis.

4. Prep for laboratory activities.

Before conducting lab activities, evaluate the educational value vs. the potential risk. Have a strong understanding of the hazards of the materials and equipment being used. Conduct a thorough inspection of all equipment before any activity. Provide instructions to students before performing any work in the lab and follow up with lesson plan notes with details of any occurrences that took place during the experiment.

5. Model good laboratory conduct.

Being a good role model in the laboratory is key to providing an important example for students to follow while preparing for and conducting experiments. Be sure all students wear the necessary protective safety equipment and enforce all safety rules, at all times. Equally as important, never leave students unsupervised or allow unauthorized visitors to enter the lab.

Milwaukee-area middle school and high school science teachers are taking a stand against the upsurge in serious laboratory incidents that have occurred across the country in recent years due to experiments using highly explosive materials. In partnership with R&R Insurance based in Waukesha, area teachers have created a toolkit and on-demand webinar that will help educate other teachers and faculty on safety regulations and practices in schools, classrooms and laboratories.

The toolkit consists of some of the tips mentioned in this post:

  • chemical storage and utilization checklists
  • disposal tips
  • a guide to hazardous experimentation and avoiding accidents,
  • video & webinar trainings
  • and risk management resources and tools

What steps are you taking to ensure the safety of students and faculty in your school and laboratory?

Download the FREE Lab Safety Kit

Topics: Safety, Risk Management, Schools, Paul Lessila, Risk Management Center, amanda gilman, science labs, Resource Center, Lab Safety Guide, School science lab safety, FLINN Lab Safety, Laboratory Safety Institute, Business Insurance, chemical hygiene officer, menomonee falls high school, Client Testimonial Videos, the rainbow experiment, chemistry lab danger

Combustible Dust: An Explosion Hazard

Posted by John Brengosz

Combustible Dust PentagonHere are five examples of deadly incidents that were caused by dust, and ways businesses can eliminate the risk of a dust explosion happening in their facility.

  1. In February 1999, a deadly fire and explosion occurred in a foundry in Massachusetts killing 3 and injuring 9. A fire initiated in a shell molding machine from an unknown source and then extended into the ventilation system ducts by feeding on heavy deposits of phenol formaldehyde resin dust. A small primary deflagration occurred within the ductwork, dislodging dust that had settled on the exterior of the ducts. The ensuing dust cloud provided fuel for a secondary explosion which was powerful enough to lift the roof and cause wall failures.
  2. In January 2003, devastating fires and explosions destroyed a North Carolina pharmaceutical plant that manufactured rubber drug-delivery components. Six employees were killed and 38 people injured. An accumulation of a combustible polyethylene dust above the suspended ceilings fueled the explosion. The CSB was unable to determine what ignited the initial fire or how the dust was dispersed to create the explosive cloud in the hidden ceiling space.
  3. In February 2003, a Kentucky acoustics insulation manufacturing plant was the site of a dust explosion killing 7 and injuring 37 employees. The likely ignition scenario was a small fire extending from an unattended oven which ignited a dust cloud created by nearby line cleaning. This was followed by a deadly cascade of dust explosions throughout the plant.
  4. In October 2003, an Indiana plant where aluminum auto wheels were machined experienced an incident which killed one and injured one employee. Aluminum dust was involved in a primary explosion near a chip melting furnace, followed by a secondary blast in dust collection equipment.
  5. February 10, 2008 a deadly explosion ripped through a sugar refinery blast killing at least 6 workers and sent 62 to the hospital. “As far as we know it was a sugar dust explosion,” authorities said the day after the explosion. The blast occurred in a storage silo where refined sugar is stored until it is packaged. Sugar dust is combustible. Static electricity sparks from metal tools, or a cigarette can ignite explosions.

Elements Needed for a Dust Fire (the familiar "Fire Triangle"):

  1. Combustible dust (fuel);
  2. Ignition source (heat);
  3. Oxygen in air (oxidizer);
  4. Dispersion of dust particles in sufficient quantity and concentration;
  5. Confinement of the dust cloud

There are several ways these explosions can take place. Two primary scenarios are:

  1. A dust cloud (diffused fuel) is ignited within a confined or semi-confined vessel, area, or building, and burns very rapidly or explodes. The safety of employees is threatened by the ensuing fires, additional explosions, flying debris, and collapsing building components.
  2. An initial explosion in an area were fugitive dust has accumulated may shake loose more accumulated dust, or damage a containment system (such as a duct, vessel, or collector). As a result, if ignited, the additional dust dispersed into the air may cause one or more secondary explosions. These can be far more destructive than a primary explosion due to the increased quantity and concentration of dispersed combustible dust.

What action can employers take to reduce their exposure?

If one of the elements of the explosion pentagon is missing, a catastrophic explosion can not occur. Two of the elements in the explosion pentagon are difficult to eliminate: oxygen (within air), and confinement of the dust cloud (within processes or buildings). However, the other three elements of the pentagon can be controlled to a significant extent.

OSHA Fact Sheet on Combustible Dust Explosions


Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, dust fires, fire triangle, OSHA explosion pentagon, Resource Center, dust cloud, combustible dust, Business Insurance, deadly explosions

Electronic Reporting of OSHA 300 Log? Be Careful What You Record!

Posted by John Brengosz

On Nov. 7, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a proposed rule to require certain employers to submit injury and illness reports electronically. The proposed rule does not create additional recordkeeping or reporting duties for employers. Rather, it would dictate how this information must be submitted to OSHA. Summary of OSHA's proposal to require electronic submission of injury and illness reports.

Even though this is only in the proposal stage, you can believe that the information will be used to generate inspections in an attempt to “help”, and will create more targeting of "compliance assistance and enforcement"! The importance of completing the 300 log ACCURATELY will never be more important if/when mandatory submissions start. The main point we stress in our OSHA 300 Log webinars is that most companies are actually over-reporting their injuries on the 300. This was bad to do in the past, but would really be problematic if we get to the point where EVERYBODY is submitting their 300 log to OSHA. (currently not the case)

300 Log webinars:
Gain control over your OSHA 300 Log! Basic questions about the OSHA 300 log will be answered along with tips to keep your recordkeeping compliant and accurate. R&R offers free annual webinars - click here to register.


Originally published November 2013; last updated August 2015

Topics: Safety, OSHA, Risk Management, OSHA electronic reporting, 300 Log, Resource Center, osha 300 log recordkeeping, John Brengosz, Business Insurance, control your osha 300 log