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This course is designed to help you understand both the potential and the danger involved with hydrogen fuel cells. The course will explore hydrogen's use as a fuel, the methods of hydrogen storage, the risks associated with hydrogen in the workplace and public, and applicable regulations related to the use of hydrogen.
What are the governing regulations? The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency responsible for the safety and health of workers involved in the hydrogen fuel cell industry. Employers must follow OSHA's General Industry standards (29 CFR 1910.103). Hydrogen fuel cell industry employers must also follow federal and state regulations that apply to different elements of their operations. For example, employers must comply with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regulations that govern the hydrogen industry.
Who must take this training? If not handled properly, hydrogen fuel cells can cause explosions, fires, freeze burns, and electrical dangers. Employees who work in the hydrogen fuel cell industry require special protections against these potential hazards. By becoming aware of these hazards, you can help to prevent injuries and protect workers and community members from the dangers of hydrogen fuel cells.
In 2011, inadequate hydrogen gas purging resulted in a fatal flash fire during a turbine generator repair. Three electrical power generation units each used a boiler to deliver steam to a turbine generator. Hydrogen gas cooled both the generator housing and its bushing box through connecting paths.
One turbine generator was taken offline because workers detected hydrogen contamination and suspected a leak. They used a portable leak detector and located a leak where the terminal plate was bolted to the bushing box. After purging, the man-way cover was removed, the workers tested for hydrogen at a fixed location, and one worker entered the confined space with an electric drop light and an electric fan. A flash fire erupted, and a worker was killed.
Key Takeaway: OSHA investigators identified the following unsafe work practices as potential flash fire causes: Insufficient purging Use of gas detectors that inadequately measure the accumulation of hydrogen Too few confined space assessments Use of tools that are unsafe for the work environment
OSHA has not specified any time frame for required retraining or recertification for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Safety training. Since there is no OSHA standard dealing with this specific hazard the OSH Act general duty clause, section 5(a)(1), 29 U.S.C. 654(b)(1) defines the standard which provides that:
(a) Each employer -
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.
A recognized hazard is a danger recognized by the employer's industry or industry in general, by the employer, or by common sense. The general duty clause does not apply if there is an OSHA standard dealing with the hazard, unless the employer knows that the standard does not adequately address the hazard.