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Churchward, Dan. OSHA and the fire investigator. National Fire & Arson Report. Vol 13 No 1 (March 1995). p 1-3+.

Abstract: This article discusses the role that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may play during an on-scene fire investigation. This is based on Churchward's personal experience with an OSHA citation and the procedures that his firm has developed following that incident.

The first area that he discusses is developing a Hazard Communication Plan (HCP). This is a document that lists the hazardous substances on a scene, their location, a set of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each substance. It also covers the training provided to people on the site regarding these substances.

A safety program is another aspect. According to Churchward, "The program can consist of a stated objective, implementation procedures, the use of tools and equipment, fire prevention , welding an cutting procedures, excavation and scaffolding requirements, accident reporting and investigating. Commonly, the HCP is an attachment of the safety program."

The subject of release forms is also discussed. This is important if you are the person that has control of the scene and will have other companies or investigators coming onto the site. The purpose of the release is to help limit your liability, but also to ensure that they have an HCP in place for their employees.

Once site work begins it is important to be vigilant to site hazards and changing conditions. Air monitoring by a competent person might be necessary. Structural engineers might have to be called in to evaluate the structure on a regular basis and advise on shoring. Security will have to be put into place.

Ongoing training might be necessary for the employees on the site. Daily briefings, at least, should be held to ensure that everyone is aware of the present situation.

Proper protective clothing for everyone working at the site is a must. At a minimum it should include "a hard hat, gloves, appropriate footwear, outer clothing and safety glasses."

It is important that when you are ready to turn the site over to another party that you have adequately advised them of the dangers of the site.

It is also critically important to document all of your actions. According to Churchward, "OSHA's stance is that if there is no paperwork it never happened!"

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