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Whistleblower Dilemma: Your safety or your job?

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Whistleblower Dilemma: Your safety or your job?

Afraid to report unsafe work conditions at your work site?  OSHA can protect you from retaliation.

It is a known fact that many workers are forced to work in unsafe environments.  Although most companies strive to provide safe and healthy working conditions for their employees, there are some places that are unwilling to make worker safety a top priority.  If you know you are in a situation where your safety and others that work with you is at risk, you may have fears of losing your job if you bring it to anyone’s attention.

safety

The stigma of being a Whistleblower is not what it used to be in the past.  In fact, OSHA has a program in place that protects your rights as an employee.  Such provisions include:

  • The right to file a safety complaint to OSHA
  • Protection from employer retaliation, such as termination
  • The right to participate in OSHA inspections and talk to the inspector
  • The right to review employer exposure and/or injury records

OSHA has fined many corporations due to unfounded termination of employees who report safety violations.  It is simply against the law, and in the end, costs the company more than just fixing the safety problem itself.

Keep in mind that sometimes it may not be a malicious intent by your employer.  They may not be aware of safety issues that concern you.  How do you approach this situation?  Read this informative article that gives you tips and advice about talking to superiors with confidence.

All in all, there are many options for shop and factory workers to be part of the solution in making their job safe.  Click on the links below if you have questions or want to learn more about safety in the workplace.

 

http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html

https://www.osha.gov/workers/index.html

OSHA NEWS:     http://bit.ly/2bX9j1E

5 WEIRD THINGS ABOUT TIN

Read these 5 odd metal facts about Tin that you never thought about…and will always remember:

  • TIN PEST: At around -20 degrees F, tin will transform itself from a shiny, flexible metal to a dull, brittle powder. This is called “tin pest” and can cause things made of tin to crumble to dust when the weather gets very cold.
  • WHISKERS: Pure tin used in electronics is known to grow “whiskers”. These whiskers, which form for unknown reasons, cause havoc in systems where they can act like a tiny antenna, damage delicate parts, or cause short circuits.
  • TIN CANS: Tin cans aren’t made of tin. They are made of steel. The steel is sometimes coated with tin to improve corrosion resistance, but cans made out of tin were not only more expensive, but also subject to “tin pest”, which made the cans brittle and breakable.
  • TIN CRY: There’s a distinctive whining cry that is heard when a piece of tin is bent. This “tin cry” happens because the metal is made up of very tiny crystals, and bending the metal causes the crystals to scrape against each other.
  • THE BRONZE AGE: Two thousand years before iron came into common use, bronze was the metal that revolutionized weapons, art, and civilization. This alloy of copper and tin was so superior to any other metal in use at the time that its discovery ushered in the Bronze Age.

 

http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/111762

http://periodic.lanl.gov/50.shtml

http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/sn.htm

There’s A Safety APP For That!

Your Smart Phone most likely has an app for anything you can imagine these days.  What about a safety app that can give you instant information regarding the safety of your factory and workers?  OSHA guidelines?  In the fast paced world we live, you don’t always have time to browse for information on your desktop or laptop computer.  These downloadable safety apps are just what you may need.

safety app

NIOSH CHEMICAL HAZARDS

If you’re handling industrial dust or welding fumes, chemical hazards are something you might need to look up information about in a hurry. Many chemicals are especially dangerous in fume, smoke, or dust form, when they can be inhaled.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has decided to put all its handy information about chemical hazards at your fingertips with a mobile app, just in case you need to know RIGHT NOW.

The safety app can be downloaded here: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/mobilepocketguide.html. Here’s what you get:

For any of 634 chemicals, you can find useful information, including important things like:

  • Physical description
  • Upper and lower explosion limit
  • Exposure routes and symptoms
  • Recommended PPE
  • First Aid treatments

If you’ve always wanted to have the NIOSH Chemical Hazards data on your phone, now you can! And actually, even if you’ve NEVER wanted to have the NIOSH Chemical Hazards data on your phone, this is a handy little resource. And if nothing else, it probably makes great late-night reading if you’re having trouble falling asleep…

NOISE LEVEL MEASUREMENTS

While you won’t get scientifically precise decibel measurements with your smartphone, there are many apps available that can give you a reasonably accurate idea of whether the noise level is high enough to damage hearing.

Scientists tested a number of apps, including Decibel Meter Pro, iSPL Pro, Sound Level Meter, and Noise Hunter ( J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 135, EL186 (2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4865269). Their results indicated that apps can provide reliable measurements of noise levels, although at the time of testing in 2014 Android lagged behind iOS in audio quality and consistency (this has probably improved for both types of devices since that time, since my phone from six months ago is now an antique).

A safety app like this isn’t just useful for workplace measurements. How often are you exposed to potentially hearing-damaging noise at home or in the community? Maybe you’re at a sports event, or maybe you’re mowing your lawn. Maybe you just want to show your teenage daughter how loud her music actually is (and yes, I am going home to try that). Because we stop noticing how loud our environment is after we adjust to it, having an app on your phone that can tell you if you’re in the danger zone might not be a bad idea.

OSHA’S HEAT SAFETY TOOL

With plenty of unpleasantly hot days left to come before cool weather arrives (or if you live somewhere that doesn’t get cool weather), OSHA’s little heat safety app, available in English or Spanish, calculates the heat index, which is a much better measurement of heat danger than just the temperature, and assigns a risk level based on OSHA’s categories:

Less than 91 degrees F: LOWER, use reasonable safety measures

91 to 103 degrees F: MODERATE, use precautions and increase awareness

103 to 115 degrees F: HIGH, more safety precautions needed

Greater than 115 degrees F: VERY HIGH, aggressive worker protection measures

The app (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_app.html) will offer reminders for workers to drink fluids, schedule rest breaks, and keep an eye on each other for signs of trouble. While it’s not the most exciting app in the world, it should be kept in mind that people die every summer from heat exposure, and we don’t always remember to take precautions, so it never hurts to have a reminder.

DUST AND FUME FILTRATION ADVISOR

DUST AND FUME FILTRATION:  HOW TO WRECK YOUR COLLECTOR FILTERS in 5 EASY STEPS

 

We obviously don’t want your dust and fume filtration system to stop working, but these five practices are the best ways to make sure your filters don’t last

dust and fume filtration

CLEAN THEM

 

Having your filters cleaned is one good way to ruin them. Cleaning filters with enough force to get the embedded dust out will often leave you with a bigger problem: filters with holes in them. These holes may be too small to see, but a fluorescent powder test will reveal the leaks where dust is getting through. Getting your filters cleaned is not the money-saving measure that it may seem, since you’re basically paying someone to damage your filters.

 

ONLY REPLACE SOME OF THEM

 

One of the filters is damaged, but the others are still OK. Why not just replace the damaged one? Your clean new filter will have less resistance than the others, and as a result it will get much more airflow and end up with a very short lifespan. If you want to see how quickly you can completely ruin a filter, this is a good way to find out. On a similar note, it’s not a good idea to put two different types or brands of filter in the same collector at the same time, since they may not have the same surface area or airflow.

 

USE THE WRONG MATERIAL

 

There are lots of different kinds of dust. Some dust particles are much smaller than others. Some types of dust clump and stick together. Other types are rough and have jagged edges, and some applications give you dust that is damp, or that has oily materials mixed into it. Whether it’s a nanofiber filter designed to capture very small particles or a filter with an oleophobic coating that won’t get clogged up by oily or greasy dust, the right filter will last longer, and the wrong filter will end up damaged or unable to function.

 

BEAT THEM UP

Cartridge filters are made to handle dust, not physical abuse. If you want to wreck your filters, handling them roughly or storing them incorrectly (such as stacking them on top of each other) is a good way to do it. The basic media of all cartridge filters is cellulose, which is the same material as paper or cardboard, so treat them accordingly. If you’re nice to them while storing and handling them, they are more likely to work properly when you install them in your dust collector.

 

SET THEM ON FIRE

 

Seems pretty obvious, but it happens more often than you’d think. Dust, including everything from aluminum to corn, can be very flammable. A fire in your dust collector is the fastest way to wreck your filters (and possibly a lot of other things). Fortunately, there are measures you can take to help prevent this from happening. A properly designed dust collection system will help prevent fires and will control and safely vent a fire if one should occur.

Imperial Systems is a huge advocate of employee safety and health in the workplace.  This is why we are in business.  Have questions about your current dust and fume filtration system?  Contact our knowledgeable and experienced team today to help with any concerns you may have.  Reach us at 800-918-3013!

MANGANESE: FACTS AND SOME INTRIGUE

MANGANESE: STEEL, BILLIONAIRES, AND GOVERNMENT  COVER-UPS

 

Manganese is a key component of modern steel. It is an essential nutrient and a neurotoxin. And it was a cover-up for one of the most secretive and expensive CIA plots of the Cold War.

 

Almost all steel currently in use relies on manganese for some of its most important properties. Manganese is added to iron ore to remove oxygen and sulfur. It is also used as an alloy to make steel stronger, more durable, and less likely to break. Steels with very high levels of manganese (up to 15%) are very tough and have been used for safes, gun barrels, and military helmets.

 

Because manganese is an important component of steel and is also used in some welding, it is often a component of welding fumes. In this situation, it is very dangerous: inhaled manganese causes a form of brain damage that can mimic Parkinson’s disease, with tremors and difficulty walking. Inhaling manganese fumes can also occur any time a material containing the metal is cut with a laser or plasma cutter. It’s one of the reasons a good dust and fume collection system such as our CMAXX™ is important in these applications.

manganese

HERE IS AN INTERESTING STORY

Okay, so… where do the billionaire and the covert CIA operations come in?

 

In 1968, a Soviet submarine armed with nuclear missiles sank in the Pacific Ocean in international waters. The Soviet search vessels were unable to locate the wreck, and the CIA very much wanted access to what might be a treasure trove of Soviet nuclear secrets and codes. However, hanging around in the vicinity of a missing Soviet nuclear submarine would be difficult to explain. A cover story was needed, and that cover story was manganese.

 

With the help of billionaire Howard Hughes, the CIA hid their operation, called “Project Azorian”, by claiming that their huge deep sea exploration ship was designed to go prospecting for the huge amount of manganese found on the ocean floor in the form of manganese nodules, lumps of manganese and iron. In theory, Howard Hughes’ company would profitably harvest these nodules with a ship equipped for exploring and collecting things from the bottom of the ocean. Since manganese is important for steel manufacturing (and therefore important to the military) and almost all of it is mined outside the United States,

 

In reality, this was never a reasonable way to get access to a metal that is easily mined in many parts of the world. However, it was an excuse to send a ship equipped with everything needed for the project to wander around the Pacific. On paper, the ship was owned by Hughes and wouldn’t attract as much attention as a military vessel while probing around in international waters.

 

The project was able to recover parts of the sub, possibly including two missiles and other classified information, but most of the submarine could not be recovered. After Project Azorian ended, prospecting for manganese on the ocean floor was abandoned in favor of the less ridiculous solution of digging it out of the ground.

 

There are also people who think the cover-up was a cover-up, pretending to be interested in the lost submarine when in reality they were trying to access deep sea communication cables or build underwater nuclear weapon launchers. This story seems approximately as logical as deep ocean rock collecting, although if surface reserves of manganese ever run out, the nodules scattered across the ocean floor might be a target of interest again.

 

Check out these resources to learn more!

http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb305/

http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/mn.htm

OSHA SCAMS: HOW TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM

OSHA SCAMS: 3 WAYS THE FEAR OF OSHA REGULATIONS TRICKS BUSINESSES OUT OF THEIR MONEY

Most businesses try to make sure they comply with OSHA regulations. They don’t want any accidents or injuries and they don’t want big fines if an OSHA inspector comes through. Some scammers, though, take advantage of the anxiety a business owner or manager may feel if they think they’re out of compliance with the regulations.

osha scams

 

These scam artists use the threat of getting fined as a weapon to scam businesses out of their money. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these companies may use names like “Occupational Safety and Compliance Administration” that are designed to make you think they’re a legitimate government entity. They’re not.

 

The three most popular OSHA scams:

  • BUY POSTERS. This one is the most popular, because almost everyone has seen all the posters that the Department of Labor, OSHA, and other organizations say must be in full view at all times.

All required OSHA posters and other informational materials are FREE. OSHA is a government agency and will not attempt to sell you posters. In addition, beware of people who claim to be offering official OSHA training but don’t have the documentation to back it up.

 

  • BUY KITS. Yes, OSHA does require you to have a first aid kit in your workplace. Does OSHA sell a first aid kit that you must purchase to meet their requirements? No. The same applies to the additional safety kits required in some settings such as health care.

Everything required in a standard first aid kit can be purchased at a drug store. There are no secret items and there is no requirement that the kits be “approved” or “certified” to meet the standards. OSHA does not sell a first aid kit.

 

  • GIVE US MONEY. A fake OSHA inspector will arrive at your business, locate a number of “violations”, and then tell you that you either must pay them right now or that you can negotiate out of the official fine by giving them money up front.

Anyone who shows up, starts “inspecting”, and then tells you that you have to give them money is not an OSHA inspector. Before conducting an inspection, a real OSHA employee will provide you with proper identification and paperwork, explain why they’re there and what they’re going to do, and make a report. They will NEVER ask you for money and they will not offer to let you buy your way out of a fine under the table.

 

These may seem like very silly an obvious scams. But don’t forget that these people are very good at what they do. They use official-sounding language and may have what looks at first glance to be an official identification. They are very good at using persuasion and threats to convince people that if you don’t buy their trainings, posters, or kits, you’ll be out of compliance and be punished for it.

 

The easiest way to make sure you don’t fall for OSHA scams? Keep the number of your local OSHA field office on hand. If someone calls or shows up and insists that they are there to take your money in the name of OSHA, you can always call the real thing and ask them.

 

http://biztaxlaw.about.com/od/employmentlaws/fl/Watch-Out-for-This-OSHA-Poster-Scam.htm

http://www.safetyfirstconsulting.com/safety_consulting_safety_consultant_osha_compliance_austin_san_antonio_waco_houston_dallas_ft_worth_texas_blog/post.php?s=is-the-osha-officer-real-heres-how-to-spot-the-scammers

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/06/ftc-action-halts-phony-osha-scam-targets-new-small-businesses

Extinguish Metal Fires With Water? It’s A Bad Idea.

Why water… or a regular fire extinguisher… will just make metal fires worse

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is the authority on all things fire-related. In their Standard 484 on combustible metals (http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/aboutthecodes/484/nfpa484-2002.pdf) they devote 108 pages to handling metals that burn.

metal fires

Why? Because a metal fire isn’t an ordinary fire. While a chunk of metal generally won’t burn, turning metals into powders, dust, or fine particulate makes them dangerously flammable, and once the fire is started, putting it out isn’t easy.

 

First of all, metal fires often burn at more than 5000 degrees F. That’s hot enough to disassemble water into its component parts, and one of those parts is hydrogen gas, which is not only flammable but explosive. In other words, putting water on these fires can be like literally feeding them more fuel.

 

Carbon dioxide won’t do the job either: while it will extinguish a regular fire by depriving it of oxygen, some burning metals can react with carbon dioxide to fuel the flames. A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher not only might make the fire worse, but the blast of air can also send flaming metal dust flying in all directions. When the magazine “Popular Science” tried to demonstrate this, they set their cameraman’s gear on fire (http://www.popsci.com/diy/article/2008-06/let-burning-metals-lie).

 

A Class D fire extinguisher is designed for metal fires. It contains dry materials that will not react with the metal and is at a lower pressure to avoid spreading the burning material (http://www.hgi-fire.com/blog/metal-fires-why-water-isnt-always-the-best-extinguishing-agent).

 

So which metals are the top five most likely to result in an industrial accident?

 

  • Aluminum

While aluminum isn’t the most reactive metal on this list, it’s probably the most commonly used, and that means grinding it, forming it, cutting it, and otherwise turning it into flammable particulate.

  • Magnesium

The main factor that makes magnesium such a dangerous fire is that it burns at an incredibly high heat and, when burning, will react explosively with just about anything you put on it.

  • Lithium

This alkali metal (and its friends on the periodic table like sodium and potassium) in pure form is usually stored in oil, because it will react with air just sitting around in a room. Throwing a chunk of one of these alkali metals in water will cause an explosion as the metal reacts violently with water. Spraying water on these metals is a really bad idea and unlike most metals, they don’t even have to be on fire.

  • Titanium

This metal is very reactive with oxygen even at ordinary temperatures, forming a layer of oxide on the surface. At high temperatures, though, its reaction with oxygen becomes extremely fast, meaning that it burns very hot and very quickly.

  • Zirconium

While zirconium might make a nice fake diamond, allowing shavings, dust, or particulate to come into contact with an ignition source will start a fire. If that dust or scrap happens to be damp, the reaction of the burning metal with water is explosive.

 

These five flammable offenders account for many of the worst industrial metal fires, which have occurred in dumpsters and other waste storage, in transport vehicles, and during processing. Be aware, though, that almost ALL metals are flammable in dust form, and you should not try to put ANY of them out with a regular fire extinguisher. A Class D fire extinguisher is the only safe way to deal with burning metal. Prevention is even better: if you don’t have accumulated metal dust anywhere in your facility, there’s no opportunity for a dangerous fire to start. A dust collection system is one of the NFPA recommendations for controlling metal dust, and safety features such as airlocks, spark arrestors, and explosion venting can decrease the possibility of a serious fire.

Trade Schools Are Struggling. Why?

TRADE SCHOOLS MATTER AND THIS IS WHY THEY’RE STRUGGLING

 

Employers are looking for people with technical and vocational skills and training. Many blue-collar employees make more money than a lot of college graduates. So why are so many trade schools seeing funding cuts and falling enrollment?

 

Learning a skilled trade is a solid investment in a future career, and it allows many people to pursue jobs that they love. But in the United States, the importance of these careers is often overlooked. Many programs focus on preparing students for college. While some people will enjoy and succeed in college, others are looking for a different kind of education, want to get started in a career more quickly, or just want to pursue something they enjoy doing.

trade schools

Trade schools prepare students for a future where they are needed and valuable. Skilled employees with quality training continue to be in demand. Trade schools provide an option for people who want to jump-start a technical career, and they offer job choices for individuals who might otherwise be stuck in low-paying, unskilled work.

 

Unfortunately, education is always on the chopping block for budget cuts, and vocational programs and trade schools are often hit with these cuts since they are not considered “necessary” (how many times have you ever used anything that you learned in most of your “necessary” high school classes?). Not everyone excels at typical college prep education, and they need and deserve other options.

 

In many countries, skilled trades are a valid career option and schools encourage interested students with educational programs and training. In the United States, however, attending college is often the definition of “success”, and many people treat vocational education as less valuable or only for people who can’t handle college. Neither of those things are true. The social status conferred by a college degree may not be worth the cost and time invested when there are so many opportunities in skilled trades. Many people invest money in a college education only to find that they can’t afford it, don’t enjoy it, or want to start a career sooner rather than later.

 

Hitting trade schools and vocational programs with budget cuts takes away the opportunity for many students to find careers, and also takes away skilled employees that businesses need. And while these programs have their budgets chopped, students struggle to find financial aid to help them afford them.

 

At Imperial Systems, we know that the success of our company depends on the hard work of our team, and nobody would be sitting in the offices if there weren’t skilled people working in the shop to make the products our reputation is built on. How many other companies in the United States rely on people with technical and vocational skills? If you’re reading this, there’s an excellent chance that your company probably does. If you want to make sure there’s a supply of well-trained employees for your company when you need them, the future of trade schools matters to you.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-we-need-vocational-education/2012/06/04/gJQA8jHbEV_blog.html

 

http://www.jff.org/blog/2014/02/26/importance-career-and-technical-education-expanding-opportunities

 

http://edlab.tc.columbia.edu/index.php?q=node/11936

Industrial Dust Control Solutions: Why It Matters

Whether you are a new manufacturing business or just branching out into new territory, if you are going to get into the metalworking field, addressing industrial dust control solutions demand some serious consideration. Not only do you have the safety of your work space to think about, but unchecked dust and fumes can also pose health hazards to those working in it. We’ve spent nearly 15 years considering the challenges of industrial dust accumulation and control, and we have developed the solutions our customers need.  Discover the facts you need about dust control for your business to keep things running safely and smoothly.

Meet Safety Standards

industrial dust control solutionsAn accumulation of dust in any industrial setting poses a threat to the health and safety of those working there.  This is especially true in the world of metalworking where the fine dust particles may be especially toxic.  In light of this threat, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards of safety that must be followed in any such industrial settings.  These address not only dust that may be inhaled but also the threat of combustibility through its accumulation.  Check out the latest combustible dust update HERE.  When you look for an industrial dust control system, begin by ensuring that it meets these and other industry standards.

Anticipate Dust And Fumes

As you consider a system to provide dust control for your work space, make sure you take fumes into account as well.  In many metalworking processes, noxious fumes are created which are more than unpleasant; they can be increasingly harmful when inhaled.  Not all industrial dust control systems are created to handle this dual threat, so it is vital to choose a collector that can manage both dust and fume generated by metalwork manufacturing.

Your Industrial Dust Control Solutions Experts

Whether you need dust and fume filtration or just a dust collection system, Imperial Systems is your industrial dust control headquarters. We manufacture the most efficient, strongest and longest-lasting systems and filters in the industry.  Through these products, we have become well known for our dedication to quality, value, and safety.  Our outstanding line of equipment includes:

  • CMAXX™ Dust Collector System
  • DeltaMAXX™ Cartridge Filters
  • CMAXX™ Laser Fume Extraction System
  • Spark Arrestor
  • Explosion Isolation Valve
  • Custom Ductwork & Fittings
  • Heavy Duty Abort Gates
  • and more!

Most of our products are available to ship within 24 hours.  For more information about our products and how we can support your metalworking business, contact us today.