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ITA Safety Committee Meeting Announcement & Major Addition to ITA Website Now Available

The International Titanium Association (ITA) will host a Safety Committee meeting at the 2015 TITANIUM Conference and Exhibition. The Safety Committee meeting, (Wednesday, October 7th at 1:30 pm), is open to all the conference delegation and participation is encouraged.

Robert G. Lee, chair of the ITA Safety Committee and president of Accushape Inc., Portland, OR, said the ITA will provide a substantial expansion of safety resources for members, users and first responders, with an emphasis on fire prevention. Lee explained that, following an approved committee charter and plan, the Safety Committee has created a major addition to the ITA Web site which compiles a list of agencies and resources regarding the safe use and storage of titanium.

“Every producer, distributor and user must develop their own safety plans to meet the conditions unique to their use of titanium, especially the generation and storage of titanium fines that may present a fire and or explosion hazard,” Lee stated.

Lee said that the mission of the ITA safety committee is to bring awareness to all items of safety when handling and working with titanium. All members of the ITA are invited to participate in Safety Committee meetings at any time, and the committee provides an open forum for safety issues concerning titanium melting and powder.

The current scope of the Safety Committee includes: disseminating existing published resources to suppliers and users of titanium products through Titanium Today magazine, committee meetings, ITA website and TITANIUM Conferences; providing a referral list of safety related services and products through the Titanium Resource Center; developing online awareness programs from existing published resources; encouraging safety committee members to participate in other organization standards and compliance groups; and hosting regular meetings where the industry may have a forum to discuss occurrences and to discuss how to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

Speaking on the topic of fire prevention and general plant safety in the titanium industry at TITANIUM 2014, which was held in Chicago, Lee urged conference attendees to “understand how your materials react and how your processes can create ignition conditions.” He pointed out that there are at least 10 different types of titanium powders and fines and at least a dozen factors that influence their potential flammability and ignition. He said static electricity is a “likely culprit” of spontaneous ignitions. Avoiding water sprinkler systems inside plants were titanium is stored or processed is very important, from his perspective.

Lee goes on to explain that in his opinion, “the most dangerous forms of a combustible metal like titanium, are dust, powders, and “swarf.” Swarf is a term used to describe fine scrap. Swarf is also known as chips or by other process-specific names (such as turnings, filings, or shavings), comprised of pieces of metal, wood, or plastic that are the debris or waste resulting from machining, woodworking, or similar subtractive (material-removing) manufacturing processes. According to Lee, “Swarf and dust and powders represent major fire hazards because they are susceptible to ignition, while large titanium castings and ingots generally are not combustible under ordinary conditions’.

Kevin Kreitman, the recently retired fire chief of Redding, CA, provided an overview on National Fire Prevention Association’s (NFPA) Combustible Metal Standard (NFPA 484). Kreitman, who has written technical papers on combustible metals and metal dusts and is an instructor at the U.S. National Fire Academy. NFPA 484 was created in 2002 by incorporating the requirements of six individual combustible metal standards, including NFPA 481 Standard for Titanium, into a single document. The six individual standards became chapters in the new standard.

Kreitman said the updated 2015 standard for combustible metals could be considered very important to all titanium companies as it provides guidelines for the production, processing, finishing, handling, recycling, storage and use of titanium alloys in a form that is capable of combustion or explosion, especially metal dust and powders. The various chapters in NFPA cover administration, reference publications, definitions, determination of combustibility, advice on facility management to minimize hazards, fire prevention and emergency response, general housekeeping” rules, and suggestions on the control of ignition sources and dust collection.

According to Kreitman and Lee, metals in a combustible form, including titanium, can present fire and explosion hazards. Improper handling of these materials in fire incidents, place personnel and responders at great risk, these risks however can be minimized through proper pre-planning, engineering, facility housekeeping, and training. Preventive actions are important to minimizing potential fire and explosion hazards. Knowledge of the risks associated with the metal and the form it is in along with proper housekeeping will greatly reduce risks and likelihood of an incident.

However, should an incident occur, how the incident is handled is critical to a safe outcome. The proper handling of fires involving titanium and metals in a combustible form does not occur by happenstance. Lee said “One of the most important items is to ensure that pre-planning with emergency responders on the risks and hazards associated with titanium and other metals in a combustible form has taken place prior to the incident, to ensure proper actions are taken in the handling of the emergency which is critical to a safe outcome”.

“Developing a close working relationship with the facility and working closely with facility personnel is a must to minimize risks for the facility and emergency responders.” Lee continues, “Incidents involving a fire at a titanium plant or other facility involving metals in combustible form may very well present additional risks based on the form of the material involved, such as powders, dusts, molten metal, as well as the potential involvement of chemicals that may be associated with the processing of the metal”.

The ITA Safety Committee underlined the following important disclaimer regarding the safety information it provides on the website: The safety information provided on the ITA website is not intended to replace applicable laws and regulations already in effect and currently being enforced by federal, state, and other rule-making authorities, but should only be read as helpful information for members of the ITA for the reasonable and effective implementation of safety standards already in existence. The ITA has not endeavored to promulgate safety standards or analyze the efficacy of existing standards. The ITA does not have the power to enforce and ensure industry wide compliance with the information contained herein; therefore, in no event will ITA be held liable for any damages whatsoever, including but not limited to damages to person or property from any use of the ITA’s safety information. The ITA makes no representation that it has located and listed all such regulatory agencies that may be applicable.

The ITA does not make specific recommendations regarding safety because the precise conditions are not known to ITA. Producers and users are responsible for conducting their own research and establishing appropriate policies and procedures for the safe operation of their facilities and use of titanium. The ITA does not report on or comment about news stories, or reports about specific incidents as ITA has no way of verifying the accuracy or applicability of such information.

TITANIUM USA 2015 will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Resort located at 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando, Florida 32819 USA with international flights offered daily through Orlando International Airport (MCO).

Click Here for a link to the ITA Safety Committee Resources


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