Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What does it mean to be Intrinsically Safe?

The term "intrinsically safe" refers to equipment and wiring which is incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy under normal or abnormal conditions to cause ignition of a specific hazardous atmospheric mixture in its most easily ignited concentration. This is achieved by limiting the amount of power available to the electrical equipment in the hazardous area to a level below that which will ignite the gases present. To be certified "intrinsically safe," a device or circuit must be so designed that no two simultaneous failures can cause an explosion.

In order to have a fire or explosion, fuel, oxygen and a source of ignition must be present. An intrinsically safe system assumes that fuel and oxygen are present in the atmosphere, but the system is designed such that the electrical energy or thermal energy of a particular instrument loop can never be great enough to cause ignition. Traditionally, protection from an explosion in hazardous environments has been accomplished either through the use of explosion proof conduits and enclosures (intended to contain an explosion), or via pressurization or purging (intended to isolate the explosive gas from the electrical equipment). Intrinsically safe apparatus cannot replace these methods in all applications, but in many cases can provide significant cost savings in installation and maintenance of the equipment in a hazardous area. The basic design of an intrinsic safety barrier uses diodes to limit voltage, resistors to limit current and a fuse.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrinsic_safety
Example of CSA Certified Intrinsically Safe Inclinometer

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A powerful lift truck is essential to your business's productivity.

A safe lift truck is essential to your people's productivity.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) provides requirements for the safe operation of powered industrial trucks. OSHA is intended to make sure that every business in the United States has a safe and healthful working environment. It is recommended that you read and understand OSHA's Safety and Health Standards, Subpart N, Section 1910.178 - Powered Industrial Trucks. Individual states may have broader occupational, safety and health guidelines. You must also review your state directives and regulations.

In addition to the state and federal standards, there are industry standards, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B56 publications which apply to material handling. This standard is denoted, ASME B56.1, "Safety Standard for Low lift and High Lift Trucks."

Various provisions of ASME B56.1 are restated and amplified in the National Safety Council's Accident Prevention Manual for Industrial Operation. This manual is highly recommended for study and ready reference by managers of companies using industrial trucks.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Aerial Device Test and Inspection

Properly maintained and tested aerial devices are essential to the safe and economical operation of a fleet. Operators and their co-workers rely on the aerial devices to perform structurally, mechanically, functionally and dielectrically as intended.


Aerial devices have been designed and built with adequate safety factors however in-service accidents, overloads, and fatigue can cause problems to develop. Also, regular annual inspections are required by OSHA and ANSI. A thorough, regularly scheduled inspection and test program can identify developing problems before they cause injuries or downtime. Early identification of defects are less expensive to repair than if they are left to develop into major failures. Many equipment managers have experienced substantial monetary savings by using written test reports to obtain competitive quotations for repairing, rebuilding, and remounting.


A. Visual Inspection: A complete inspection of accessible areas including:

1. Outriggers; Pads, structure, welds, bolts, hoses, cylinders, valves, pins and retainers.

2. Chassis; Truck frame, aerial sub-frame, suspension, PTO, pintle hook, and components of the brake, steering, electrical, air, hydraulic, exhaust, and cooling systems.

3. Pedestal; Mounting bolts and welds, pedestal structure, diagonal brace, attachment welds or pins, hydraulic swivel joint, hydraulic components, swing drive gearbox mounting bolts, backlash between swing pinion or bullgear, electric collector ring and brushes and lower control operation.

4. Rotation Bearing; Upper and lower bearing attachment weld and bolts, vertical movement of bearing, and proper torque on accessible bearing bolts.

5. Turntable; Turntable structure, bucket leveling cables, leveling cylinders, compensating chains or sprockets, and hydraulic system components.

6. Lower Boom; Boom structure, welds, lift cylinders and attachment, hydraulic system, leveling cables or rods, upper or extend cylinder and attachment, pushlinks, boom rest supports, tie-down straps, lower insulator and mounting, extension roller assembly and wear pads.

7. Elbow; Elbow structure, hydraulic hoses and leveling cables.

8. Upper Boom (Extension); Structure, welds, leveling cables or rods, wear pads, upper insulator and mounting, hydraulic lines and components, jib structure and mounting, tool circuit hoses and fittings, pole claw arms and mounting brackets.

9. Platform (Bucket); Mounting bracket bolts, leveling system, exterior condition, control operation and hydraulic lines and components.

10. Digger and Auger; Digger mounting arm and housing, gearbox, auger, digger wind-up bracket or rope, auger stop bracket, lock mechanism and control operation.

11. Winch; Mounting brackets, bolts, pins; gearbox, hydraulic components, load line, and controls.

12. General; Load rating chart, electrical hazard placards, MADDDC placards and upper or lower control operation placards.

The visual inspection includes removal of inspection cover plates as necessary to do a thorough job.

B. Acoustic Emission (AE) Test: AE is the accepted industry method for testing fiberglass and steel structures. The AE test includes attaching sensitive sensors to the structural fiberglass and metal components from the bucket down to the outrigger or chassis subframe. A test load of 1-1/2 or 2 times the rated load (specified by customer) is applied to the boom. A computer system monitors sounds emitted by defects that are growing during the test load. The computer selects the critical noise emissions and prints a summary report.

C. Magnetic Particle Inspection: Magnetic particle is a nondesctructive test method used to identify surface cracks on ferrous material. It is perfromed on all critical welds, plates and castings of items listed in Part B during the visual inspection.

D. Dye Penetrant Inspection: Dye penetrant is a nondestructive test method used to identify surface cracks and works on any structural surface including all critical welds, plates, castings made of non-ferrous material and any area requiring verification in Part C or Part E.

E. Ultrasonic Inspection: Ultrasonics is a nondestructive test method used to detect flaws in accessible critical pins. Use of ultrasonics reduces the number of pins that have to be removed for inspection. Pins with flat end surfaces and do not have drilled holes are best suited for ultrasonics.

F. Torque Testing: Torque testing all critical fasteners in accessible areas including upper and lower rotation bearing, swing gearbox, boom connections, and platform mounting.


A functional and operational test is performed to check the operation of controls, bearings, pins, bushings, cylinders, holding valves, bucket leveling mechanisms, outriggers, etc. This test will also find worn swing bearings or gearboxes, worn pins or bushings, and loose fasteners critical to the operation of the aerial.


A dielectric test up to 100kV as specified by ANSI standards. The dielectri test verifies the electrical insulating strength in the FRP upper and lower booms, bucket, liners, FRP extensions on digger derricks, tool circuits, and upper control system.


Dielectric Tests: Bucket liners; Hydraulic oil to ASTM D1816 standards; Hotsticks.

Oil Spectroanalysis: Chemical analysis of oil in engines, transmissions, and hydraulic systems. Determines type and amount of contamination.

DOT Inspection: A thorough inspection of the chassis as specified by Federal or State DOT. Includes a DOT sticker and one page report.

Stability Tests: Performed to meet the requirements of OSHA/ANSI specifications.

Thickness Testing: Ultrasonic thickness testing is a nondestructive test method used to determine thickness of materials where thickness is critical and difficult to measure with mechanical test equipment.


Defects found during the inspection and tests are classified for degree of severity and printed on a computerized report. Technicians will review the report with the customer designated representative. A signed and dated copy of the test report listing the defects discussed is left with the representative.

The report is reviewed by staff engineers and the final report is mailed to the designated customer representative. The testing company retains a copy of the test report on file. Units that need rework require verification of repair or retest in the customer file.

For additional information on Bucket Trucks please visit BucketTrucks.org.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bucket trucks or "Cherry Pickers" fall under OSHA standard guidelines for safety

Bucket trucks are used for a number of industries and can be seen along roadsides every day. For example, have you ever driven down the road and watched as the local telephone or utilities company rides in a bucket to the top of a pole to fix something? If so, then you have seen a bucket truck. This is exactly what a bucket truck is used for - lifting and lowering workers to places too tall for ladders.

These trucks are sold in a number of sizes and shapes, each to help make work easier. While the bucket truck is used for many different purposes, the most common is power linemen. By using this type of equipment, they can complete their work in a comfortable, safe, and efficient manner, primarily where steel or concrete poles are used.

The design of the bucket truck includes a storage bin that is perfect for holding tools and material needed by the worker. In addition, some bucket trucks are designed with a single or double-arm boom or a hydraulic outrigger jack, which provides extra stability. You will also find some designs that are powered by the actual truck engine while others are operated with an auxiliary engine that is mounted on the back section of the truck.

Just remember that while the bucket truck is easy to operate and can make the job much easier to complete, this is still a large piece of equipment that needs to be handled properly. When the manufacturer’s operation is followed, the worker will experience a smooth, safe ride while keeping maintenance to a minimum.

Bucket trucks fall under OSHA standard guidelines, which must be adhered to for safety. Some of the requirements for using a bucket truck under these rules include:

  • The truck should be used to elevate employees to any job site located above ground.
  • The bucket truck can be constructed of wood, fiberglass, metal, or reinforced plastic.
  • Bucket trucks may be modified for use other than the intended use but only if approval to the modification is received in writing by the manufacturer or equal authority.
  • For bucket trucks to be used near electrical power lines, strict requirements must be followed, which includes keeping to a specific distance, de-energizing procedures, only qualified employees using the truck, grounding any overhead lines, and so on.
  • The brakes must be set
  • Bucket trucks should never be driven while employees are still in the bucket
  • Controls must be clearly and visibly marked and defined by function
  • Controls should be tested every day prior to the bucket truck being used
  • Load and distribution should always be checked to make sure they fall within the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Any employee operating the bucket truck must wear appropriate protective gear at all times to include safety goggles, safety boots, a hard hat, gloves, etc. to protect from falling objects
  • The employee must keep his feel planted firmly on the floor of the bucket at all times
  • The lower controls should not be operated without the permission of the employee in the bucket expect in the case of an emergency

These are just a few of the many rules that fall under OSHA guidelines to ensure top safety when using a bucket truck. However, when employees are trained and the truck used the proper way, this piece of equipment can provide years of support in the workplace. Just remember, this is a large truck and if not handled according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and OSHA guidelines, injury or worse could occur.

Therefore, while a bucket truck can save tremendous time and effort, it definitely needs to be respected for the powerful machine that it is. For the business owner, the key to safety is training. You can obtain a number of excellent tapes for drivers and bucket truck operators to watch through OSHA or directly from the truck manufacturer

Friday, July 18, 2008

Telehandler Popularity Increases Concerns of Safe Operation

Could Telehandlers Be the New Skid-Steer Loader?
Published 07/10/2008 on HeavyMachineryinfo.com

Double-digit sales growth fueled by versatility that is attracting new owners has drawn a rush of marketers and compact machines Stability Triangle Determines if Telehandlers Tip

There are many facets to safe operation, but keeping them upright is key to keeping them productive In the late 1990s, OSHA required that telehandler operators be trained, but didn't specify what that training should include. Mike Popovich, training director at JLG, uses an all-encompassing five-step approach to teaching accident avoidance that asks five important questions:

Five Steps
Walk-around inspection — Is the unit safe, visually?
Worksite assessment — Is the worksite safe to operate in?
Function test — Is the unit safe, functionally?
Proper operation — Am I operating safely?
Proper shutdown — Is the unit in a safe place and shut down properly?
At the center of this regulation, and the five steps, is a machine that stands on a triangular footprint and lifts heavy weights to impressive heights. Of course, there are other dangers, but the key objective is to keep the telehandler upright.

The two front wheels and the rear-axle pivot point form a telehandler's triangular base. The rear wheels are not part of the base because the rear axle typically oscillates. As long as the machine's center of gravity (the point in three dimensions around which the machine's weight is balanced) remains oriented inside this stability triangle, the telehandler remains upright.

Adding a load to the forks while the boom is down moves the center of gravity forward and down. Raising the load will move the center of gravity up and to the rear, while at the same time causing the stability triangle to shrink. The higher you lift a load, the less margin for error you have because the stability triangle becomes smaller.

A small stability triangle leaves less room for the center of gravity to wander left or right if the frame is not perfectly level. Imagine the center of gravity as a plumb bob hanging from the boom. You'll always find the center of gravity somewhere on a perfectly vertical line between a point on the boom and the center of the Earth. If the frame's not level, the center of gravity will not be oriented over the machine's centerline. But the stability triangle is always aligned with the telehandler centerline.

With the boom raised and extended (the stability triangle very small), the frame only has to be slightly out of level to make the center of gravity drift to either side of the triangle. The laws of physics are as certain as gravity. The moment the machine's center of gravity moves beyond the boundaries of the stability triangle, the telehandler begins to tip.

At any jobsite, there are things affecting the stability of a telehandler other than where you put the boom. You may be on a 1-degree side slope, in a 5-mile-per-hour wind. There may be a little ice under your wheels, and one tire a little low on air pressure. If the machine goes over, there may be no single cause. It was a combination of factors that are all things you can catch and correct or avoid if you do all of the Five Steps.

A safe lift starts well before putting the boom in motion, or even before the operator assesses the site for hazards. Most of today's telehandlers are designed with a quick-attach coupler at the end of the boom. Before installing an attachment, be sure it's approved by the telehandler manufacturer and that its specific capacity chart is in the operator's station.

"It's an OSHA violation to run a machine if the proper load chart for that particular combination of machine and attachment isn't in the machine," Popovich says.

Make sure forks haven't been tampered with. Other than block forks, all forks should be used in matched pairs. Block forks are used in matched sets.

"Putting on and taking off attachments is critical," adds Marty Turek, curriculum developer/instructor, Operating Engineers Local 150. "You have to make sure it's secure."

The maximum capacity of a telehandler-and-attachment combination will be the lightest of these: capacity stamped on the attachment identification plate, the fork capacities stamped on the side of each fork (fork capacity is multiplied by the number of forks on the attachment, not to exceed the maximum on the attachment ID plate), maximum capacity indicated on the proper load chart, or the load rating of the telehandler.

Referring operators to the capacity chart can be easier said than done on many jobsites because the weight of the load is not always known. Construction sites require a lot of general lifting that obviously doesn't approach a telehandler's limits, though — miscellaneous materials and tools that need to be unloaded and kept out of the way. As long as the telehandler is properly equipped and maintained, the operator assesses the site for hazards and makes these lifts carefully, work can continue without knowing the exact weight of each load.

"But every experienced operator knows when they're about to lift something that's going to test a machine's limits," Popovich says. "The key is to find out how much loads weigh."

Truckers can be a reasonable source of information, as can project supervisors, and sometimes the subcontractor or crew chief that will be working with whatever's on the pallet. If general inquiry fails, though, there are few options for determining the safe boundaries for a lift.

Equipment manufacturers can't recommend picking up the load and extending the boom forward until you feel the rear wheels getting light. It is intentionally destabilizing the machine. It's not likely to result in immediately recognizable damage, but the practice is discouraged because if the machine tips forward and lands on the pallet, it can damage the load and accelerate boom wear.

But by extending the load to the point where it reaches the machine's stability limit, you can use the load chart to estimate its weight. Find the boom angle on the chart on the following page and follow it out to the zone matching the boom extension. The load weighs more than the weight limit printed in that load zone.

Handle this estimate with extreme caution. You've exceeded the safety factors built into the load chart, so the margin for error becomes very slight. Don't plan a lift at the furthest reaches of the stability range using this estimate, and observe stability-enhancing procedures dealing with frame level, tire pressure, load center and the like meticulously.

"Whenever you test the limits of the load chart you should do a test pick without a load on the forks — position the telehandler as you plan for the actual lift and run the forks up to where you plan to place the load," Popovich says. By noting the boom extension and boom angle at the extreme point of the lift, this exercise confirms the vertical height from ground level where the load is to be placed, and the horizontal distance from the front tires to where the load will be placed.

On the capacity chart, find the horizontal line for the height of the lift and follow it over to where it intersects the line for the distance. The point where the two lines meet should fall within a load zone marked on the chart. If it doesn't, the machine and attachment can't complete this lift. The weight indicated in the zone where the height and distance lines intersect is the maximum capacity for this lift. If the two lines meet on a boundary between zones, use the lighter of the two weights for this lift's limit.

Check the boom-extension and boom-angle limits of this load zone on the capacity chart. When the load is in the air, no matter what happens, do not exceed those boom-extension and angle limits or the machine will tip.

All of the loads shown on capacity charts are assigned with the assumption that the machine is on firm ground with the frame level; forks positioned evenly on the carriage; load centered on the forks; proper size tires properly inflated, and the telehandler in good operating condition. Failing to comply with any of these conditions could tip the machine over.

Once you've determined that the lift is within the telehandler's and attachment's capabilities, it's time to set up the machine. Never engage a load or lift a load more than four feet above ground unless the telehandler is level.

"One of the things we always emphasize in our training classes is, when you get ready to place a load: Park Brake; Neutral; Level," Popovich says. "We drill it into people just like that."

Stop the machine on a stable surface in the best place to lift and place the load, set the parking brake and shift the transmission into neutral. Before raising the boom, check the level indicator to see if the frame needs to be leveled from side to side. Many telehandlers have hydraulically tilting main frames that allow you to compensate for uneven terrain. Some have outriggers. Set the boom in the "carry" position — forks less than four feet off the ground — and level the machine. The machine should be ready to make the lift.

Never use the leveling system (sometimes called "frame sway") or outriggers to level the telehandler after the load is more than four feet off the ground. After the load is in the air, if you discover that the telehandler is not level, bring the load back down before leveling the frame.

"We instruct operators not to use the frame sway to position the load with the boom elevated," Popovich says.

The higher up you go, the closer the sides of the stability triangle are — you don't have to go very far to move the center of gravity outside the triangle. If you use the frame sway with a load high in the air, the boom only has to move a couple of degrees right or left and the machine may tip over.

If the telehandler isn't level when you reach the limits of the frame-leveling system, don't attempt the lift until the problem is solved. Reposition the telehandler on more-level ground, or have the surface where it is standing leveled.

Always lift the load slowly, watching closely for changes in the footing or other conditions that could cause the frame to shift out of level. Don't move the machine once the load is more than four feet off the ground. Placing a load at height requires a careful combination of multiple functions — boom down, boom out, while holding the forks level.

"One of the most important things to remember is to maintain constant engine rpm so the hydraulic flow remains the same," says Turek, from the Operating Engineers. "People in tense situations often want to let off the throttle, but the change in engine speed slows down the hydraulic flow, which changes what the levers do. You want to run at a high rpm all the time so the hydraulic performance is predictable, and feather the controls to control the lift."

Machines with the carriage-transfer feature, which slides the entire boom forward hydraulically, simplify the procedure. But the machine's load capacity is derated for any carriage position forward of the rear-most position.

Turek says most of Local 150's telehandler operators take the OSHA 10-hour safety awareness training and learn a lot about their job from the section on scaffolding. He recommends that program or any of OSHA's scaffolding-specific programs to all telehandler operators. Once the lift is complete, the boom should be retracted and lowered to the carry position before the telehandler is moved.

Telehandlers are designed to handle rough terrain, but that doesn't mean they can be driven without regard for the terrain. Risk of tipping or load loss is much greater when traveling on slopes. If you must drive on a slope, keep the load low and proceed slowly, with great care. Before you get on the slope, downshift to a lower gear and four-wheel drive. Engine braking will help control the telehandler's speed. Avoid turning on a slope, but if you must turn, make the turn as wide as possible and use extreme caution.

Never drive across excessively steep slopes under any circumstances. Ascend and descend slopes with the heavy end of the telehandler pointing up the incline. When there's no load on the forks, the counterweighted rear of the machine is the heavy end, so you should back up slopes. When the telehandler is loaded, the front of the machine is the heavy end, so you should back down slopes

Operator training becomes very important on a mixed jobsite — with rear-pivot machines and coordinated-steering machines on the same jobsite where everyone is allowed to run all the equipment. Someone accustomed to operating a coordinated-steer machine jumps on a rear-pivot machine. One really significant difference between the way those two machines operate has to do with what part of the machine extends outside the turning radius.

The load or the forks cut the widest swath in a tight turn on a four-wheel-steer machine. But on the rear-pivot machine, it's the counterweight or the outermost rear wheel that's at the edge of the turning radius. In either case, the operator has to look in the direction of travel to be sure the path is clear. But in cases where the operator is using a machine with rear-pivot steering, it's especially important to be aware of the counterweight.

The things an operator does to ensure safe telehandler use don't take a lot of time. Accidents tend to happen when people neglect basic safety requirements in the name of speed.

Regardless of brand (or equipment) safety training is priority.

Case IH ProHarvest safety training for custom harvesters draws 500+
Friday, July 18, 2008 on www.OEMOffHighway.com

Case IH photo-More than 500 custom harvesters recently attended the 24th annual Case IH ProHarvest kickoff, held at the Great Plains Technical College in Frederick, OK.

Every spring, just before the wheat harvest begins along the border of southern Oklahoma and northern Texas, Dan Renaud picks a date to host the Case IH Pro Harvest kickoff in Frederick, OK. The kickoff is a half-day combine safety training program for custom harvesting crews. And the date changes every year, depending on the weather and the wheat crop.

What doesn’t change is the location: the Great Plains Technical College in Frederick. “This is our 16th year at Great Plains Technical Center, and the 24th year of the ProHarvest support program,” says Renaud, the Case IH Combine Specialist who organizes the ProHarvest kickoff. “We show up at the college and Jim Smith, [Agricultural & Mechanization Technology Instructor], opens his doors to us for a few days.”

Meanwhile, Bill Blankenship, who heads the local FFA Chapter, rounds up a posse of FFA volunteers. Together with Box Implement, the host Case IH dealer in Frederick, they plan and serve the Case IH-sponsored free breakfast to every custom harvester who comes to the kickoff. Just like the date of the kickoff, total attendance also depends on the weather. If the wheat is not quite ready or Mother Nature provides rain that means more attendees.

This year, more than 500 custom cutter crew members showed up for the breakfast and Case IH combine safety training over two days (the same program is repeated on day two). “This was our largest crowd in many years, and the more the merrier,” Renaud explains. “We don’t care what color combine you run. This is non-denominational training. Everyone’s welcome.”

Getting the attention of young crew members

Renaud says the goal of the ProHarvest kickoff is simple: Get the custom harvester crew members, many of whom are 18 to 23 years old, thinking about safety before they start the season. “Young guys this age think they’re invincible, so we review safety procedures, show them safety videos, and photos – some gory, some not – to remind them that accidents happen,” he adds. “We want to wake them up, raise the awareness of combine safety and get them started on the right foot.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Safety in Automation (Part 3 of 3) Safety Switches

Safety Switch Technology With Sensaguard
Safety in Automation: New Products

The new Allen-Bradley SensaGuard family of RFID-coded, non-contact switches from Rockwell Automation includes a high safety rating, flexible design, extended diagnostics and RFID coding, while improving safety and reducing troubleshooting time and machine wiring costs.

The switches are Category 4/SIL 3 rated per EN954-1, TÜV functional safety-approved to IEC61508. Unlike lower rated switches, SensaGuard will shutdown a machine if a failure occurs before there is a demand on the safety device — which improves machine operator safety. They are especially suited for machines where multiple access doors must be monitored up to a Safety Category 4/SIL 3.

Safety Guard Switching Unit

Omron Scientific Technologies has introduced new G9SX-GS safety guard switching units. External outputs enable status indication of two safety input devices. Auxiliary outputs enable monitoring of safety inputs, safety outputs and errors, and detailed LED status indicators provide system diagnostic tools.

Additionally, logical AND connections help facilitate complicated applications in combination with other G9SX series units. Each G9SX-GS unit supports unique auto switching and manual switching functions.

Auto switching ensures safety and productivity in applications with coordinated operations by monitoring a machine or robot, plus the operator, to make certain neither enters the coordinated area at the same time. Manual switching is for applications that require limited machine access for operations such as maintenance and cleaning.

Safe Relays For Process Applications

Phoenix Contact now offers safe relay modules, approved to SIL3/IEC 61508, designed specifically for process applications. Optimized turn-on behavior eliminates high start-up current that a control system might interpret as a short circuit. The safe relays provide two channels of redundant normally open contacts and one normally closed status contact that can switch up to 250V ac/6 A in a 22.5-mm housing.

These compact safety relays are used to electrically isolate field applications from the control system or to adjust the voltage or power. In addition to being used in conjunction with safety-oriented control systems, these relays form an integral part of the safety chain for electrical and electronic applications in process technology and mechanical engineering.

Safe Camera System For 3-D Control and Monitoring

SafetyEYE is a camera system for three-dimensional safety monitoring from Pilz Automation, developed in conjunction with DaimlerChrysler. The system places a customized, three-dimensional protective cocoon around a danger zone with a single system. It is designed to replace a multitude of two-dimensional sensors currently in use today. The system offers functions for control and monitoring and allows detection zones to be configured flexibly and quickly on a PC.

More than just a sensor, SafetyEYE is the basis for a technology that safely detects objects in a three-dimensional zone and alters a robot or a machine's movement to prevent accidents. It is suitable for a wide range of applications from manufacturing operations, to the tire and packaging industries, to high-bay racking systems and automatic car parks. The system can also provide uninterrupted object monitoring and access guarding.

Safe Motion™ Technology With Safety-On-Board

Bosch Rexroth's IndraDrive with Safety-On-Board features Safe Motion™ technology integrated directly in the drive, including the latest international standards for safe stopping and safe motion.

These capabilities are available on a common platform that functions as a servo drive or frequency converter. The system has reaction times up to 400 times faster than conventional solutions that use contactors to produce a safe stop.

Because the Safety-On-Board technology is integrated directly into the drive, motion controllers, regardless of manufacturer, are able to leverage the technology. The drive has enough I/O for the safeguarding logic needed to interface to safety gates, panel switches and interlock switches. The machine builder only needs to learn one safety solution for an application and the machine is pre-certified, so the OEM doesn't have to worry about the safety certification process.

Powerlink Safety

The ACOPOS drive system from B&R Automation uses POWERLINK Safety to enable functions such as safe limited speed directly over the network. Wiring these safety-related signals to the drive is eliminated and the information is collected from its source via safe digital inputs and outputs. It is distributed to corresponding sensors, actuators or drive via the SafeLOGIC central processing unit.

Safety in the drive system comprises the following functions according to Category 3, EN 954-1: uncontrolled and controlled stops, safe stop and safe operation halt, safe limited step measurement and safe limited absolute position, safe limited speed and safe rotational direction. Functions like safe restart inhibit or safe output for the motor holding brake are integral parts of the system.

Safety Relay For Motion In Hazardous Areas

The new Allen-Bradley MSR (Minotaur™ Safety Relay) 57 speed monitoring safety relay from Rockwell Automation is designed to allow personnel to enter hazardous areas while motion is present. The MSR57 will be available later this year.

The device supports numerous input devices such as E-stops and light curtains, allowing switches and interlock switches to stop the motion, put the machine into safe speed and monitor personnel in the hazardous area during safe speed conditions. The MSR57 can be configured and monitored via Drive Explorer or an HMI device. During configuration, the user can set a variety of parameters to specific requirements for their application including type of input devices, door locking and monitoring, enabling switches and a maintenance (safe speed) mode. One example is that the MSR57 can unlock doors automatically when zero speed is detected.

Safety At Work E-Stop Safety Switches

Pepperl+Fuchs has introduced a new family of emergency stop switches with integrated Safety at Work (SaW) functionality. These intelligent switches are powered by the AS-Interface network and offer fast, error-free installation in field or panel-mount applications. Field and panel-mount models are available in high-intensity, wide-angle illuminated versions, as well as non-illuminated versions, to suit any e-stop application requirement.

Illuminated models are lit with a high-intensity LED to eliminate the need for auxiliary power, while reducing the number of required leads to two. For added flexibility, the LED is not activated by the button but is controlled by a PLC, which allows users to solve even the most unusual applications. Non-illuminate e-stops provide safe operation at a lower price point than illuminated models.

Field-mountable versions eliminate all wiring to save time and eliminate the possibility of incorrectly wiring the e-stop switch and feature an M12 connector that works in conjunction with flat-to-round cable adapters to reduce installation time to less than 60 sec.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Construction industry forms safety group

The New York City Construction Industry Safety Council will establish a tower crane maintenance database that contractors will be able to consult before renting equipment.

July 01. 2008 2:32PM Daniel Massey

Buck Ennis

In the wake of two deadly crane accidents since March, the city’s construction industry on Tuesday announced the formation of an independent organization to promote safety on work sites across the five boroughs.

The 17-member New York City Construction Industry Safety Council will be made up of the city’s largest contractors, the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York, the Real Estate Board of New York and many of the trade associations that represent the construction industry. The council will bring industry leaders together for the first time to share safety procedures and expertise.

"Development cannot take place at the expense of public safety, and it’s going to take the industry’s cooperation to make construction sites safer," acting building commissioner Robert Limandri said in a statement. "The formation of the NYC Construction Industry Safety Council is a step toward that end, and I look forward to real results that raise the safety standards on job sites.”

The new group will be funded by its members, who, so far, have raised $500,000 to get it off the ground.

“We recognize that construction safety isn’t just a story because there was an accident,” said Steven Spinola, president of REBNY. “This is a long-term commitment to safety.”

The creation of the council comes as the city’s Buildings Department is preparing to propose a new series of crane safety regulations that will focus on maintenance and repair records. The City Council is also considering comprehensive construction-safety legislation.

The safety council’s first task will be to establish a tower crane maintenance database that contractors will be able to consult before renting equipment.

“Many of you have heard of the Car Fax system where you can go online and find out the maintenance information on any used car you’re going to buy,” said Louis Coletti, president and chief executive of the Building Trades Employers’ Association. “The concept is the same: a crane system to be able to get up-to-date information on cranes as they are delivered from site to site.”

The group will also research safety practices being used across the country and around the world and urge governmental agencies to adopt safety standards that all contractors should follow. For the first time, the group will bring contractors together to share safety information with each other.

"It used to be that our safety plan is a proprietary plan, my competitors’ safety plans are proprietary plans,” said Daniel Tishman, president and CEO of Tishman Construction Corp. “We’re now prepared to share best practices with each other relative to safety. Safety plans should not be a marketing advantage.”

Safety in Automation (Part 2 of 3) Networking Safety

Networking Safety
Flexibility is a key benefit of implementing Safety at Work technology

With safety in the spotlight, advocates for networked safety have hardwired safety system technologies clearly in the crosshairs. They argue that safety relays, auxiliary contacts and redundant cable runs are all part of systems that deliver poor diagnostics, high setup complexity and create time-consuming installations.

But according to Helge Hornis, Ph.D., manager of Intelligent Systems for Pepperl+Fuchs, the key to acceptance of the technology is helping engineers understand how networking safety provides flexibility in terms of expanding the safety system, implementing multiple safety zones and improving diagnostics.

“The basics of flexibility mean that when you need to have another device (safe or non-safe) in your system, you simply run a spur from anywhere on the network in that new direction and put the new device on the network,” says Hornis. He says the networks provide diagnostics that are not only better than what was before, but also completely impossible.

“How do you detect a contact that is intermittent? In the past, you simply didn't. The flexibility the system gives the engineer, in terms of uptime and what they can do with the machine, goes way up,” he says.

Pepperl+Fuchs has developed safe systems using the AS-Interface Safety at Work networking technology for about five years. Hornis says the possibility of expanding the safety system in minutes is just one of the many advantages the technology brings to the plant floor.

Other advantages include a wiring reduction compared to hardwired solutions while maintaining Category 4 safety and detailed diagnostics down to the contact level without a single inch of additional wire. Multiple safety zones, dependent and independent, can be implemented with no additional wiring and systems have the ability to capture nuisance shutdowns due to faulty safety contacts or wiring connections at the safety device level.

Hornis says even though networked safety solutions have been around almost 10 years, some engineers still question if they are legally allowed to use networked safety and if it is actually safe. “There is too little understanding of the basics of network safety and how it can be safe if it doesn't use four wires,” says Hornis.

When Europe moved to allow networked safety under certain very stringent conditions, still forbidden in the U.S. at the time, it was clear machine builders that wanted to sell into Europe would need to be able to address these requirements. But once a machine is designed that utilizes a modern technology, why build one for the U.S. market which is really very primitive and doesn't give users the abilities of a machine sold in Japan or Europe?

“There is a strong trend toward safe systems and we have been selling these products for about five years,” says Hornis. “We're going through a major upgrade cycle now, where what we have learned over the years from customer input and requirements is resulting in new products and technologies.”

One example is remote safety relay technology that will be available by the end of the year. This new capability will allow systems that run on AS Interface, when there is a need to shutdown a motion safety somewhere else and no original plan to do that, to utilize a safety-rated output module (Category 4, SIL-3 and performance level “e”) in the field to expand the network.

The overall impact of safety networking is continuing to expand, as well. At the end of 2007, the total number of safety installations worldwide based on AS Interface alone totaled 50,000. The number of safety modules or safety inputs in the field totaled more than 350,000 units, numbers Hornis thinks makes Safety at Work the number one solution in terms of customer adoption rate.

Part 3 Continues...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Safety in Automation (Part 1 of 3) Creating opportunities for safe technologies

Motion Control and Automation

Safety in Automation

The spotlight on safety is creating opportunities for safe technologies

Safety technologies are benefiting from the surge of interest in machine safety, even though it is being propelled in large part by external forces, marketplace issues and regulations. But achieving higher levels of safe motion is also a good thing for OEM machinery builders and users because the end result extends beyond human safety, to material assets and reduced probability of machine failures.

This special section takes a look at solutions for safety in automation. The focus on safety is effectively providing an impetus for the adoption of technologies and products that ultimately will be the basis of new generations of safer machines.

Focus on Feedback Redundancy
Safety-related position measuring systems rely on pure digital, dual feedback

Redundant systems are critical to the goal of functional safety which minimizes and reduces the risks that can occur during normal or impaired operation of machinery. So, a fundamental requirement for axes of motion in safety-oriented applications is redundant position information to perform corresponding safety functions.

“A key requirement for safety is built-in redundancy,” says Tom Wyatt, national sales and product manager for Heidenhain. “To achieve safer machines, it has always been a requirement for feedback suppliers to come up with effective dual feedback systems for redundancy.”

Heidenhain has made a major ongoing commitment to safety-related position measuring systems using its EnDat 2.2 pure serial data interface. Drive encoders have achieved safety approvals with control category SIL-2 (in accordance with IEC 61508 or performance level “d” of ISO 13849). A linear scale product already available with the interface is in the process of gaining safety approvals from the various governing bodies and their goal is to get all products switched over.

“What we have done is taken a rotary encoder, along with a linear scale perspective as well, and built two encoders into one,” says Wyatt. He says, on the rotary encoder side, there are two independent scanning methods and pure serial communications, as well. The requirement on the driver control side is a dual processor system, so when a data packet is sent there are two independent data packets one right after the other on the same line from two independent measuring systems built into the encoder.

“You can imagine with a machine tool, that if something happens with a drive axis, there is always a runaway situation where damage can happen,” says Wyatt. “The combination of sensors and feedback systems prohibits runaway situations and puts the system in safety stop if something is missing. If the two data packets that come back from the encoder suddenly don't match or one is missing, immediately within microseconds the system is shut down.”

In the past two years since the initial approval of this position measuring technology by BGIA in Europe, the equivalent of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the U.S., the focus has been on safe machines to meet European machine tool standards. He says the concept is now being looked at for all types of automation applications.

A key area for growth is the robotics industry because of the need for the work envelope for robots to be safe and the ability it provides for manufacturers to save space on the manufacturing floor by placing robots into tighter spots. But there is also interest in packaging for applications such as palletizing, all driven by the spotlight on European machine tool standards and the increased general focus on the need for safety approvals.

Wyatt says the technology has established itself but there are still certain levels to fulfill. The technology already achieved SIL-2 which is probability of failures and Category 3 which pertains to machine tool safety. But the whole idea is to reduce the probability of failure and along with that comes both higher levels of material safety and, of course, human safety.

“We continue to see safety as a rising issue down the road and safety is a big issue with high-end interfaces,” says Wyatt. “The probability of failure is really the only place you can improve and we are currently at 10-8 and 10-7 for SIL-2. The probability of failure is already next to nothing, but the next step is improving on that even though you can only go so far.”

Part 2 continues...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Deadly crane incidents put spotlight on industrial safety

Recent tragedies in Florida and New York involving high-rise construction cranes have once again put a national spotlight on industrial safety.

A 20-foot section of a construction crane fell 30 floors in Miami Tuesday, smashing into a home below and killing two people. The accident occurred ten days after a crane collapsed in New York City, killing seven people. New York City is re-inspecting high-rise cranes following the deadly incident.

Laing O’Rourke, the largest privately owned construction firm in the United Kingdom, provides some basic points to consider when it comes to safe crane operations:

• Erecting a tower crane is a potentially hazardous operation, and any site activities that could impinge on the operation must be suspended while it is done.

• As an additional precaution, an exclusion zone must be established around the operational area.

• Procedures must conform to the manufacturer's instructions and to the method statement both supplied by the erection supervisor and approved by the project manager.

• The tower crane must be satisfactorily tested. If the crane is to be subsequently climbed and tied (connected) to the structure, a further test will be required each time before the crane is returned to service.

• If the tower crane is from an external supplier, the inspection and testing department must be given due notification. An examination must be made before the tower crane is delivered to site, and the test of the installed crane must be witnessed.

Since the crane collapse on the east side of Manhattan, city officials have increased safety and inspection requirements. The Buildings Department said a city inspector will now have to be present every time a crane is erected, jumped or dismantled. It will require the project engineer who submitted the original permit application for a crane to produce a “written protocol” for each jump, including guidelines for how the work should be done. The engineer will have to inspect the crane to certify that it was built and assembled according to plans. The city has already shut down several cranes for violations.

Source: ThomasNet.com March 28, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Crane Safety featured in upcoming Webcast

Crane Safety featured in upcoming free Webcast from Construction Equipment:

Shop and Field Safety Webcast
Event Date: June 04, 2008 at 11:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Duration: 60 Minutes
Register FREE:


Equipment facilities and construction sites are inherently dangerous places with all types of noise, fumes, toxic materials, and vehicles. However, dangerous does not have to mean unsafe. Everyone involved in the equipment industry has a responsibility to maintain a working environment that is free from, "accidents waiting to happen." If a possible accident situation is recognizable, it can be avoided.

In addition to Shop and Field Safety, Crane and Rigging safety will be featured in this webcast.

Participants will learn about:
Crane and Rigging Safety
• Training
• Load weight
• Operator Procedures
• Signaling
• Rigging
• Inspection

• Creating a safe shop environment.
• Knowing what to look for at the shop and in the field to prevent worker injury.
• Keys to safety regulation compliance.
• Motivating employees to be, Safety Vigilant
• Identifying best practices for high accident rate areas and equipment such as the shops, cranes, and forklifts.

Webcast will be followed by live Q&A.


- Mike Anderson, Senior Editor of Construction Equipment magazine, will lead the discussion.

- Roger Thompson, Vice President of Bucher Willis and Ratliff Corporation

- Jack Butler, owner/operator of Butler Cranes & More

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Lift Safety Directive - European Commission, including CE markings

Purpose and application

The Lift Safety Directive has been introduced by the The European Commission to ensure a harmonised standard of safety in the design and manufacture of lifts throughout the European Economic Area. In doing so, it fills an (intentional) loophole in the Machinery Directive which specifically excludes most forms of lift in order to allow for this (more specific) Directive.

The directive applies to all lifts intended for carrying personnel and any lift to which personnel have access. Lifts are defined as

"lifting appliances serving specific levels by means of a car moving between guides which are rigid and inclined at an angle of more than 15 degrees to the horizontal"

Additionally, lifts without guides but
"moving along a fixed course even where they do not move along guides which are rigid" are covered as are some safety critical subsystems and components. These include devices for locking landing doors; devices to prevent falls; overspeed limitation devices; shock absorbers; safety devices fitted to hydraulic power circuits and safety switches.

Certain particular types of lift are excluded, the main ones being lifts specifically designed for
military purposes, stage/theatre lifts; mine winding gear; and lifts fitted in a means of transport.

Administrative requirements

The Directive has both administrative and protection requirements. The administration requirements are that the product be marked with the CE logo, that a specified form of Declaration of Conformity be completed and that this declaration and supporting documentation be kept for a minimum of ten years. There is no clear requirement under the Directive for the production of a file of technical information, but it seems inconceivable that a manufacturer or installer will be able to fully demonstrate that due diligence requirements have been met without supporting documentation.

For lifts, responsibility for these procedures will rest with the installer. For specified safety components, it will be the responsibility of the manufacturer or his
authorised representative in Europe to ensure that these procedures are carried out.

The Directive also lays down requirements for type testing and/or quality control procedures.

Protection requirements

The details of the essential health and safety requirements will be the subject of a series of standards. However, certain basic principles are defined in the Directive itself. These include:

  • The lift must be automatically rendered inoperative if it is overloaded.

  • The speed of the lift must be controlled and kept below limits.

  • Passenger lifts must have a counterweight (which can be a second lift).

  • The lift shaft must be inaccessible except for maintenance or in an emergency.

  • A free space must be provided at each end of the lift shaft.

  • The lift must be prevented from moving unless the doors are closed.

  • Lifts must be completely enclosed.

  • The lift must have a free-fall prevention device.

  • Buffers must be installed at the bottom of the lift shaft.

  • Doors must be incapable of crushing persons or objects and must be suitably resistant to fire.

  • The lift must be fitted with two-way communication.

  • The lift must have adequate ventilation and lighting, even in an emergency.

  • There should be an emergency override control system for fire and rescue.

  • The lift must be clearly marked to show the maximum load and the maximum number of passengers.

  • Safety components must be accompanied by an instruction manual.

The directive contains no specific provisions with respect to electromagnetic compatibility or electrical safety, and therefore equipment within its scope must also comply with the EMC and Low Voltage Directives.

Further information

This brief description of the Directive necessarily does not contain all the requirements or exclusions. For further information or assistance with CE marking your products, please contact us at Conformance and we will be pleased to do what we can to help.

The European Commission also have a site with useful information on their EUROPA server.

Friday, April 25, 2008

State (Pennsylvania) Lacks Crane Safety Regulations

State Lacks Crane Safety Regulations
Philadelphia - In the wake of the recent Miami and New York City construction site crane accidents that caused multiple deaths, Pennsylvania still does not require any standard of safety regulations for either cranes or construction sites as a whole.

"Currently, there are no qualifications or tests mandated by the state or by any other municipality," said Anthony Lusi Jr., an assistant training director with the operating engineers Local 542 and a member of the building trades union. "It's an employer-driven ordeal."

Over the span of eight days, slipshod crane operations left nine dead and dozens more injured last month, warranting a closer look at how well safety regulations are followed when erecting a building.

Three states that share borders with Pennsylvania - New York, New Jersey and Maryland - use U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-recommended plans to ensure the highest safety standards are upheld on the work site.

Mr. Lusi, a 32-year veteran with the building trades and a member of the building trades safety committee, said Philadelphia has a "sizable" amount of cranes operating daily in the city.

He said most construction site accidents in the city are never reported.

"The numbers will be skewed," he said.

"It is the employer's responsibility to foresee potential hazards of unsafe positions, and that is the gray area where a lot of the balls are dropped," he said. "I think the cart is pulling the horse if we wait for these accidents to happen and don't taken responsibility and preventative measures."

Currently only construction site accidents resulting in three or more injuries and/or a death are required to go on record with OSHA. Under the OSH Act, an employer must "furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment that are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm." Beyond that, work site safety regulations here are a crapshoot.

Leni Fortson, spokeswoman for the local labor department, said the Philadelphia OSHA branch and the city are working together to share information.

As to the safety measures taken at work sites, Ms. Fortson said she could not specify, since construction projects are overseen only to the degree the employer pays for it.

"We're looking to see whether the standards that are promulgated under the OSHA health act have been followed. We are constantly keeping and eye on all work sites, since construction is considered one of the more hazardous work sites," Ms. Fortson said.

While Pennsylvania does not opt to abide by the safety guidelines recommended by OSHA, Mr. Lusi said most union workers feel they exhibit "due diligence" in addressing safety on the job.

According to Gayle Johns, spokeswoman for Licenses & Inspection (L&I), the accidents in New York and Miami were related to tower cranes, which are stationary and used to construct, alter or demolish high-rise buildings. She cited three in operation currently - at the Ritz-Carlton Residences at 15th and Chestnut streets, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in West Philadelphia and at the 900 block of N. Penn Street.

"Philadelphia has no local legislation regulating the construction and operation of tower cranes, other than the general requirements in the building code to protect the public and adjacent property from the construction project," Ms. Johns said.

"Our inspectors are nationally certified in the construction codes, but cranes and equipment used to conduct the construction is regulated by OSHA."

If unsafe operations that threaten public safety are in effect at work sites, Ms. Johns said city inspectors will issue stop-work orders until problems are resolved.

L&I could not confirm numbers relating to construction accidents.

Mr. Lusi said he recalled one construction site death in 2006 in Delaware County and three deaths in 2005 in Montgomery County. He said a bill aimed at extending safety measures is stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The legislation, if passed, would make crane operators in the commonwealth more aware of regulations and safety standards that apply to the construction industry.

"The state requires us to be able to operate a vehicle with minimal skill," he said.

Additionally, Mr. Lusi said changes to construction site equipment, including cranes, "changes drastically from year to year," and it is at the employer's discretion to train or educate operators on the latest technology - an option not always chosen because of the financial burden of outsourcing training and testing mechanisms.

The city Office of Risk Management did not return calls for comment as of press time.

Jenny DeHuff can be reached at jdehuff@thebulletin.us.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New York Crane Collapse Kills Seven

April 9, 2008

New York Crane Collapse Kills Seven – and Raises Engineering Questions

Filed under: Safety, Lifting Equipment — admin @ 4:24 pm

A 200-ft-tall construction crane collapsed on New York City’s East Side on Saturday, killing seven people. Hardly a freak accident, this tragedy marks the latest in a slew of crane accidents that have taken place across the country over the past few years. Engineers may wonder whether the fault lies in the design of the cranes themselves. Yet the cause of most crane accidents can usually be found out on the job site.

In this recent fatal accident, a tower crane working on a new 43-story residential building at 303 East 51st Street toppled onto a property across the street. As the crane broke apart during the fall a roughly 75-ft section demolished a building over on 50th street and damaged at least six other nearby buildings.

According to a statement sent by Carly Sullivan, assistant press secretary for the New York City Department of Buildings, a preliminary investigation indicates the accident occurred while workers were adding tower sections to extend the crane upwards, a process known as “jumping” or “jacking.”

“While crews were jumping the crane to the 18th floor, a heavy-duty steel collar, which wrapped around the mast of the crane and used to tie the crane to the side of the building, fell as workers attempted to install it. When the steel collar fell, it damaged a lower steel collar, installed at the 9th floor. The collar installed at the 9th floor served as a major anchor securing the tower crane to the building under construction. With the elimination of the support provided by the steel collar at the 9th floor, the counter-weights at the top of the crane’s tower caused the entire structure to fall southward,” the statement says.

Owned by New York Crane and manufactured by the Favelle Favco Group, the tower crane has been inspected at least five times during its operation at 305 East 51st Street. The most recent inspection of the crane occurred on just a day before the accident when inspectors from the Building Department’s Cranes & Derricks Unit inspected the mast sections that would be used to jump the crane upward. The Building Department issued no violations as a result of that inspection, and a prior inspection earlier this month found the crane had been erected in accordance with the city’s crane permit.

As of yesterday, the Buildings Department engineers were working with the New York City Police Department to recover the crane parts needed for a forensic investigation into the accident. With this evidence destined for lab testing and analysis, it may be some time before the cause of the accident comes to light.

But crane experts say it’s unlikely the the crane will be found to have failed due to any inherent design flaws. “Cranes are designed well by their manufacturers. In all the accidents I’ve investigated over the past 12 years, not one of them was the fault of the crane itself,” says Thomas Barth of Barth Crane Inspections, a firm that provides crane operator training as well as crane inspections and accident investigation services.

“Accidents usually occur when someone does something with the crane that the manufacturer did not intend the crane to do,” Barth says.

Often times that someone can be an operator. Barth argues many operators don’t have nearly enough training or experience to understand how to lift the loads safely and within the design limits of the crane. “Some of them don’t know jack about the cranes they’re operating,” he says.

According to Barth, one particularly common class of problems relates to a lack of awareness about the crane’s maintenance needs. For example, he says he’s seen many crane operators fail to account for wear in the crane cables, which they should do by measuring the cable and applying wear tolerances.

Graham Brent, executive director of the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), likewise says the operator error can result in crane mishaps. He says these errors can involve trying to lift loads in ways the crane can’t tolerate. Modern cranes do have load sensors that in theory would prevent too heavy a load from being lifted. “But controls can be bypassed,” says Brent. “And sometimes a load that’s safe to lift in one quadrant of the crane’s operating envelope could be unsafe in another,” he says.

To minimize the occurrence of operator-induced problems, the NCCCO develops voluntary certification programs for all kinds of crane operators, including those who run the big tower cranes. Fifteen states have adopted the NCCCO’s certification guidelines as part of their formal crane licensing programs, and Brent says the organization has helped train “thousands more” operators across the country.

Training programs still have a ways to go. Barth says operators when he began in the crane business needed 4,000 hours of training to become certified on the most complex types of equipment. Nowadays he runs across employer training programs that seek to train crane operators in as little as few hours — though that short a period wouldn’t be common for the tower cranes.

New York State’s Labor Department has also run across training deficiencies. Last November, the department suspended 129 Crane Operator’s Certificates after discovering licenses were issued to individuals who failed the state’s practical exam.

Other crane toppling problems have nothing to do with the operator and everything to do with the on-site engineering. Barth cites a November 2006 Bellevue, WA crane accident that killed one man as an example. “The report on the Bellevue accident found that crane went down because it used a homemade steel base that did not meet the crane manufacturer’s criteria,” he says. The Washington Department of Labor and Industry’s investigation into the accident found the crane’s foundation, which should have been concrete, was designed to withstand only about one-fourth of the 210-ft tower’s load requirements.

Brent also says installation mistakes represent a leading cause of tower crane failures. “But the recent rash of tower crane accidents is unusual in that they occurred once the crane was erected,” he says, explaining most toppling accidents take place while the crane is being installed. “Once properly installed, tower cranes tend to be free of toppling accidents,” he says.

From: Design News International Engineering [mailto:dnonline@email.designnews.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 1:02 PM
To: Maxim Gots
Subject: NTSB Reports: Construction Materials Contributed to I-35W Bridge Collapse

Monday, April 07, 2008

Flatproofing improves safety

Flatproofing improves safety, says Arnco

Increasing awareness of safety issues in the operation of large earthmoving equipment is boosting demand for flatproofing, says tire fill manufacturer Arnco.

"Flatproofing is profitable in eliminating flats and costly downtime, but it takes on greater value by adding ballast and protecting equipment operators and nearby workers," says Bob Giasson, Arnco's director of marketing.

Operator safety is a particular concern among operators of ground support equipment and telescopic boom cranes, say Arnco officials.

"Flatproofing makes equipment more stable," they note.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Mis-handled handling

I just interviewed Jim Shephard, president of Shephard’s Industrial Training Systems, for the next "Lift Truck Tips" column in Modern. We got to talking about how materials handling equipment is sold and how sometimes the salespeople are as clueless as their customers about the application of equipment in the customer’s environment.

For any materials handling sales transaction to be truly effective, the salesperson needs to know as much as possible about the customer’s policies and procedures—as well as its safety record—if that transaction is to result in a successful application. That means doing a materials handling assessment to find out which processes in your plant aren’t in synch with your people.

Where lift trucks are concerned, if an assessment isn’t done, specifications may not match up well with the process. This may result in overcapacity or turning radius problems.

What is the primary job for the lift truck? 55% of that lift truck’s life may involve one task. Once that’s determined, then you break down other tasks by percentages. You may find the lift truck you’re using is not designed to do some of those tasks.

Problems begin when your operators try to fit that square peg into the round hole that is your operation. That’s when operators start bending rules to get the job done. Even if the operator complies with proper operating procedures 93% of the time, that remaining 7% could result in a problem that explodes in your face because of an injury or significant product damage.

If a mis-applied piece of equipment or technology forces an operator to change a good material handling technique to a bad one to handle the product, it’s not the operator’s fault. Shephard told me he’s had five calls from attorneys in the last few months, looking for an expert witness associated with fatalities involving lift trucks. Jim’s doing his homework on these cases. Are you doing yours to avoid being the next one?

Originally Posted by Tom Andel, Modern Material Handling.com on February 21, 2008

Industries: Lift Trucks and Accessories, Materials Handling Mechanization, Services and Best Practices

Monday, February 25, 2008

Safety Management Forums

Here's a nice web site forum for safety management, open discussions on safety issues, and a great resource for accident prevention information.

Utility Safety and Training Professionals now have a place to conduct online discussions with their peers from around the country. Simply take a minute to register (there is no charge) and make a first post to what will be a vital industry communications resource.


Safety Management

Our growing community of utility safety and training professionals is just beginning to share their job knowledge and experiences online. Please register to participate in our online discussion or simpy bookmark the site as your resource for information.

I thank you in advance for your part in building the Incident Prevention online community. Please email me if you have any ideas/concerns/comments on how we can improve our website.
Stay Safe and Have a Great Day!

Carla Housh

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Construction leads again in on-the-job deaths

By Lauren Barrera, as posted on EquipmentWorld.com

Although the overall amount of fatal work injuries in the United States decreased in 2006, the construction industry saw an increase and accounted for more fatalities than any other industry.

The construction industry had 1,226 on-the-job deaths, up 2.8 percent from 1,192 in 2005 according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the fatality rate for construction actually decreased in 2006 to 10.8 per 100,000 workers from 11.1 in 2005. The decrease is due to an increasing number of workers in the industry, which rose from 10.3 million in 2004 to 11.4 million in 2006.

The BLS says that fatalities among electricians, roofers, painters and drywall and ceiling tile installers rose while the total decreased for carpenters, construction trade helpers, plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters.

The total number of on-the-job deaths in the United States was 5,703, down slightly from 5,734 in 2005. The fatality rate also decreased slightly in 2006 to 3.9 per 100,000 workers from 4.0 in 2005. The overall U.S. fatality rate in 2006 was the lowest since the fatality census began in 1992.

Monday, February 11, 2008

More training needed for crane operators

  • Crane operators don't have certification requirements, but hairdressers do.
    Special to the Journal

    crane tip-over
    Photos courtesy of Ronald Cowper
    Poor set-up accounts for over 60 percent of all crane tip-overs.

    U.S. Department of Labor statistics indicate that from 1984 to 1997 construction fatalities averaged about 1,150 individuals a year, of which crane-related fatalities averaged about 50 a year.

    It was perceived that with the introduction of voluntary operator certification across the country, job-site safety, at least in the area of crane operation, would be greatly improved and the number of crane-related accidents would show a significant decline. In the period from 1997 to 2000, when it was too early in the certification process to properly evaluate any noticeable change in the pattern, crane-related fatality statistics remained consistent with the previous years.

    With thousands of operators across the country currently NCCCO certified and more public agencies endorsing the certification program, one would tend to believe that, as OSHA suggests, “certification is having a significant and positive impact” in reducing crane accidents. However, information provided by craneaccidents.com, a Web site that monitors accidents, injuries and fatalities worldwide, indicates that from the beginning of 2000 to the end of 2003 the average number of crane-related fatalities in the United States had actually risen to 55.5 per year.

    Craneaccidents.com also reported that in 2003 alone 60 workers died in crane-related accidents while another 60 were injured in about 200 reported incidents. By the end of February 2004, the Web site reported that there have already been 15 crane-related fatalities, which is on pace for another above average year.

    How can this be? What could be wrong with the system?

    Crane operator certification

    I have always been a firm supporter of certification for crane operators, but I, as well as many others, believe that the criteria for obtaining that certification needs to be more stringent.

    Cranes have become more complicated and versatile, and individuals who are required to work around them have the right to expect that the people operating them are well trained, knowledgeable and highly skilled.

    I do not believe the 1,000 hours of experience, with no specific training requirements, that is required to obtain CCO certification is sufficient to provide the experience base that a fully qualified crane operator needs to be able to make many of the varied and sometimes critical decisions. Good operators will tell you that, while the less qualified ones aren't about to fight to have the system changed.

    Crane accidents cause damage, injury and death.

    I also believe that the quality and amount of actual training being supplied is inadequate in many cases. There are too many one-, two- and three-day training programs that are geared to those less skilled individuals who just want enough knowledge to be able to pass the written test.

    By comparison Ontario, Canada, has had voluntary crane operator certification for almost 100 years that became compulsory in 1983. Also, Canada has had a National Crane Operator Certification and Apprenticeship program since 1999 that requires a minimum of 2,000, 4,000 or 6,000 hours of hands-on experience and classroom training, depending on provincial requirements and the crane classification being applied for.

    We know this system works because Canada's exceptionally low accident and fatality rate is envied around the world.

    When I was first asked to conduct crane operator training in Washington state in 1993, it was with the expectation that compulsory certification was virtually a guarantee. Sadly it was not to be. Surely it makes little sense when plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics and hairdressers, to name a few, are required to be trained and certified but individuals who operate the most expensive and dangerous tool on the jobsite are not.

    Management's responsibility

    It is generally agreed among crane operators that although everyone involved in the lifting operation is interested in completing the job safely, the operators are frequently challenged by supervisors to perform lift procedures that are questionable.

    Crane operators feel that too often jobsite supervisors are either not sufficiently informed in the functions and limitations of the crane or are more focused on getting the job done. Although upper management is most often not directly involved in the day-to-day site operations, any internal safety program must begin at that level or it will be doomed.

    Training needs to be comprehensive and ongoing.

    If management claims to promote safe working practices but tends to look the other way when productivity becomes more important, or when complaints of unsafe practices made to safety committees are not effectively acted upon, employees, including site supervision, may quickly assume that management is not too committed to safety.

    It has been said, “what management permits, management condones.” But if something goes wrong, management will ultimately be held morally, legally and financially responsible for the safety of its project.

    National Safety Council estimates put the cost of one lost-time accident at about $27,000, with punitive damages sometimes ranging into the millions of dollars. Management that is seriously interested in promoting jobsite safety will quickly learn that the money spent on just one lost time accident could easily cover the cost of providing comprehensive and ongoing safety training programs for their operators, site managers and supervisors.

    Without that training and the unqualified backing of management to always do the job with the highest regard for safety, job-site personnel are inclined to continue in their ways, which allows serious crane accidents and death to continue.

    Ron Cowper has been providing crane safety training programs to operators, riggers, site supervisors and Department of Labor compliance officers from across Canada and the United States since 1983.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    "One-stop" safety site debuts

    "One-stop" safety site debuts

    By Amy Materson

    Caterpillar launched a new website June 5, devoted to safety and safety-related issues. The site, safety.cat.com, features excerpts from the company’s operations and maintenance manuals, videos and general safety information as well as guidelines for performing machine walk-arounds.

    Kevin Brennan, senior consultant, Customer Safety Services, Caterpillar, says the website was designed based on requests from customers. “They said they wanted a separate safety site,” he says.

    Visitors to the site can choose a product category from the Caterpillar product line and then find specific information related to a particular machine. Brennan says the site is not limited to the most recent offerings. “We do have information on the latest products, but historical products are included,” he says. “We go back as much as 40 years.”

    The site has a multimedia section that includes the virtual walk-arounds and a safety label interactive section that gives about the symbols used on universal safety labels. A general topic section has downloadable, printable information on equipment maintenance, equipment operation, jobsite safety and personal safety.

    Brennan says he expects the site to be used as a safety training tool. “The videos are three to four minutes long and can be used for safety presentations on jobsites,” he says. “It’s going to be a one-stop shop.”

    Cat will update the site as videos and manual excerpts are added. Brennan expects the company to also launch Spanish and French versions of the site. For more information, visit http://safety.cat.com.

    "...nice to see OEMs being proactive with safety, leading by example -- Cheers!
    Skip Gosnell,
    Marketing Director
    Rieker Inc