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OK, CalOSHA has fined Scaled Composites for not training its employees properly in the handling of nitrous oxide. But there's still no explanation of what caused the explosion, or really, how to prevent it in the future. At least, not in this story.
This can't be good news for the SS1 propulsion system.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 18, 2008 05:13 PM
I hate CalOSHA. They used to make our lives miserable when I worked in the oil patch near Bakersfield at a CoGen. The ONLY thing worse was Cal/EPA.
CalOSHA was never satisfied. They'd ask for changes, we'd make them, call for a re-inspect, they'd send a different inspector who wasn't really on board with the fix. Or, for instance, the new guy would buzz past the fix and hit us on the age of our hard hats.
It's true, they actually questioned the age of our hard hats. They told our Superintendent we had 10 days to get all new, approved, linemens hard hats. So the company had to buy the hats.
Makes me glad to be out of that business.
I expect Scaled Composites will go through plenty of that now. It's too bad.Posted by Steve at January 18, 2008 07:40 PM
I hate CalOSHA.
Yeah, the heroes at Scaled ought to tell those meddlesome safety socialists at Cal/OSHA to buzz off. They'll never understand that accidents happen.
I dealt with Cal/OSHA for my company in California when we were building hybrid rockets, including N2O systems. The point is not whether they are "meddlesome safety socialists" but rather whether the substantial regulatory costs they impose on companies actually make them safer. My experience was that they were primarily concerned with filling in squares on their checklists. When you impose costs for no good result, you are in reality making an operation less safe, as there are fewer resouces for doing the jo properly. The insurance company loss mitigation specialists that we worked with were much more results-orented, and in my opinion much more useful in helping make our operation safer.
I suspect that if you abolished all direct state regulation of industrial operations, but merely imposed mandatory insurance requirements at realistic levels, you would have safer operations overall.Posted by Jim Bennett at January 18, 2008 08:46 PM
How does California tort law affect this affair?
Trust me, safety was important to all of us. There was too much or too many rotating machineries, high pressure fluids, volatile chemicals, natural gas fuel, all used around always hot equipment and ladders to be climbed daily for maintenance or operations to ignore safety. None of that takes into account our two prime products to sell, live HP steam sold to the oil companies and Kw's of electricity sold to the grid.
Replacing 14 month old hard hats was NOT the answer to safety given that scenario.
Jim, just for the tally books, what do you do for a living? I don't need chapter and verse. I just mean, office work, sales, inspections, etc. I'd just like a general idea of your area of expertise so I'll know whether it's ignorance of topics or natural snarkiness that make up some of your comments.
Actually I think you would have been exempt from the hard hat regulations at the CoGen. I'm pretty sure the flesh around your behind would be ample protection for your head.Posted by Steve at January 19, 2008 06:57 AM
If Burt Rutan needs Cal/OSHA to tell him that nitrous oxide is dangerous, then his customers shouldn't trust him to hail a taxi for them, much less launch them into space.
"The point is not whether they are "meddlesome safety socialists" but rather whether the substantial regulatory costs they impose on companies actually make them safer. My experience was that they were primarily concerned with filling in squares on their checklists. "
The problem with government is it will sacrifice efficiency in pursuit of unobtainable perfection. Government will almost always say 'yes' to some new procedure or test and never really consider if its percieved additional value justifies the costs in money, time, lost opportunities and efficiency. It is like an animal that will gorge itself to death in the presences of an unlimited food supply.
Posted by Mike Puckett at January 19, 2008 10:05 AM
the actual important question is what caused the explosion.
when the Comet kept crashing, if they had locked down the cause
It is stupid that Burt does not release the reasons for the accident. It is not going to be pretty but it is better for everyone in the industry if they publish the cause.
You can get a sense of it from the fact that training of the people is involved.Posted by albino Transit at January 19, 2008 02:31 PM
SS2, Rand.Posted by Sam Dinkin at January 19, 2008 03:38 PM
I nominate Jim Harris for the next banning. He contributes absolutely nothing to any of Rand's posts. What a jerk.Posted by Eric Weder at January 21, 2008 08:38 PM
I nominate Jim Harris for the next banning. He contributes absolutely nothing to any of Rand's posts.
Actually, it's more of a negative contribution.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 22, 2008 04:58 AM
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