Archive for May, 2012

Workrite Presents Thermo-Man in North Dakota

May 31, 2012 Comments off

On May 22nd, Workrite Uniform and DuPont Protection Company presented Thermo-Man® to numerous safety professionals and attendees of the Williston Basin Conference in Bismarck, ND.

Thermo-Man®, is one of the world’s most advanced thermal burn injury evaluation systems. Thermo-Man® consists of a life-size manikin and 122 thermal sensors used to predict level, extent, and location of potential burns of whole garments in simulated flame exposures.

New and soiled garments were tested, thus demonstrating burn injury comparisons

Brad Sipe, our Midwest regional manager, commented;
“All who attended received a firsthand, real world demonstration of exactly what FR is supposed to do. Different fabrics were burned that demonstrated the extent and percentage of body burn, a real eye-opener to the attendees, as many inferior and less expensive imported fabrics have flooded the industry lately. I believe they walked away learning the importance of knowing your FR, from fabric to manufacturer is critical.”

Hagemeyer NA hosted the event at their Bismarck location. Doug Bohl, account representative, at Hagemeyer NA commented, “Most everyone who attended will certainly rethink their FR program. We are thankful to have partners like Workrite and DuPont educating and helping those that attended.”

Many thanks to Brad Sipe for orchestrating the valuable event along with DuPont and Hagemeyer NA, and a special thanks to all that attended! Look for more Thermo-Man® events in the future.

Combustible Dust Related OSHA Fines

May 24, 2012 Comments off

OSHA may not be rushing to publish an official standard on Combustible Dust, but that surely doesn’t mean they aren’t fining for related violations. The attached fines range from $72,000 to a whopping $406,000. Take a read to find out what OSHA is checking for in regards to Combustible Dust.

Alabama Farmers Cooperative $192,000

Bartlett Grain $406,000

Dis Tran $72,000

Gilster-Mary Lee Corp $231,000

OSHA video announcement on Heat Stress

May 22, 2012 Comments off

The following video by Dr. David Michaels,  assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, is on the Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers.

Click here to view the video.

What Workrite’s been up to!

May 17, 2012 Comments off

Our Texas Regional Account Executives – Sammy Dobbs and Kurt Abbrat– have been busy guys! Through March and April they attended five tradeshows and a charity golf tournament. Below are a couple of pictures of what they’ve been up to. 

May and June are busy months for Sammy & Kurt as well – catch Kurt at NPRA (San Antonio, May 16-17) and see Sammy at VPPPA Region VI (Ft. Worth, May 15-17) and TCC/ACIT (Galveston, June 4-7) both supported by our Gulf Coast Regional Account Executive, Michael Dupree. If you’re in the Texas area, make sure to come out and see the newest in FR!

AESC Scholarship Golf Tournament –

Southwest Fire & Rescue –

Texas Safety Conference –

What OSHA Expects: The Electrical Safety Questions OSHA Will Ask During and Investigation

May 15, 2012 Comments off

EHS  Today originally published the article below in May, 2008, but it still rings true today. You should be prepared for OSHA to stop by and perform an inspection at any time. The article gives insight on the types of electrical safety questions that you’re likely to be asked when they visit. Read on…

Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what OSHA is training its inspectors to look for during an inspection that includes electrical safety, including surprising new areas of emphasis based on national OSHA directives?

 This article covers some of the typical electrical safety questions that OSHA inspectors will ask during a field investigation, what they mean and how to be prepared and be in compliance.

A good starting point is to understand OSHA’s approach to electrical safety. OSHA’s goal is for employers to identify all electrical hazards, both potential and actual. In the past, OSHA focused on process changes, encouraging companies to de-energize circuits before working on them, perform lockout/tagout procedures and develop ongoing safety programs that include worker training and retraining. A more recent area of emphasis is arc flash safety, which means electrical safety professionals must analyze the workplace for shock and arc flash hazards, establish safe protection boundaries and define what personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used within these boundaries.

For electrical safety in the workplace, OSHA relies on expert consensus bodies such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and its standards published in NFPA 70E. To ensure that employers are following NFPA and OSHA guidelines, OSHA trains its inspectors and compliance officers to ask specific questions in the event of an electrical safety incident. Some typical questions follow.

Is there a description of the circuit or equipment at the job location?
OSHA expects employers to know their workplaces. If an employer cannot provide a written description or drawing of the circuit or equipment, then the compliance officer may assume that the employer has not assessed the facility for electrical hazards.

Is there a detailed job description of planned work?
In order to know which safety procedures to use, the worker must be provided with a description of the job task. OSHA publication 29 CFR 1910 lays out employer responsibilities for protecting their workers from electrical safety hazards. It states that the employer shall train workers to use safe work practices that are designed to avoid injury.

Can you justify why equipment cannot be de-energized or the job deferred until the next scheduled outage?
Per OSHA 1910.333(a)(1), live parts to which an employee may be exposed must be de-energized before the employee works on or near them, unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is not feasible due to equipment design or operational limitations. (Live parts that operate at less than 50 volts to ground need not be de-energized if there will be no increased exposure to electrical burns or to explosion due to electric arcs.) The message is clear: never work on live circuits unless it is absolutely necessary. OSHA allows work on live circuits in some cases, but the reason cannot be simply that turning off the power is inconvenient or will interrupt production. Nor can workers use the excuse that they didn’t have the authority to shut off power. When it is necessary to perform work on energized equipment, OSHA 1910.333(a)(2) requires safety-related work practices to be used and NFPA 70E Article 110.8(B)(1) requires an Electrical Hazard Analysis before work is performed on live equipment operating at 50 volts and higher.

Other questions you can expect from an OSHA inspector include:

· What about safe work procedures?
· Has a detailed work procedure been established?
· Are there detailed descriptions of work practices to be employed?
· Was a job briefing checklist performed, and was the job briefing completed for those performing the work?
· Was proper management approval secured?

OSHA wants employers to make electrical safety procedures and practices part of regular work processes. Several annexes to NFPA 70E offer guidelines for lockout/tagout procedures, checklists and approvals. For example, Annex E covers Electrical Safety Programs, Annex F covers Hazard Risk Evaluation Procedures, Annex I covers Job Briefing Checklists and Annex J covers Energized Work Permits.

 NFPA 70E annexes are not strictly “enforced” by OSHA, as they are appendices to the NFPA standard. However, OSHA inspectors and investigators will ask if the content and information contained in these annexes was followed and adhered to.

As an EHS professional, would you know the answers to these questions if an OSHA inspector came knocking on your door?

· Were required electrical safety analyses performed?
· Was an arc flash hazard analysis performed?
· Were flash protection boundaries established?
· Were all other potential electrical hazards identified?

OSHA regulations state that every employer shall furnish a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm, and that the employer must assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present and select PPE to protect employees. When it comes to electrical safety, OSHA refers to NFPA 70E, which requires employers to conduct an electrical hazard assessment consisting of a shock hazard analysis and an arc flash hazard analysis before work is performed on live equipment operating at 50 volts and higher.

These requirements may be fairly complex, as they involve calculating the potential fault current at each piece of equipment, understanding the characteristics of the overcurrent protective devices and how they are coordinated for each circuit and creating or updating one-line electrical drawings. Complex or not, OSHA inspectors are trained to ask if these analyses were performed, because they are essential to reducing the number of arc flash-related deaths and injuries that occur each year, as well as ensuring a safe installation.

When the safety of any job task involves electricity or electrical equipment, ask yourself these questions:

· Were proper tools and equipment used?
· Was the necessary PPE determined?
· Were the proper insulated tools used?
· Were insulated blankets and/ or sheeting used to properly cover all of the live parts?

OSHA 1910.132 requires employers to assess hazards, select PPE and make sure that employees are trained how to use it. Electrical PPE, safe work practices such as lockout/tagout and safety training are covered by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.301-.399, also known as Electrical Subpart S.

For example, OSHA 1910.333 (a)(1)(i) states: “Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall be provided with and shall use, electrical protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body to be protected and for the work to be performed.”

For electrical workers, this standard’s effect is multi-fold. First, employers must facilitate workers’ understanding of the PPE required for each task on each piece of equipment. This may be communicated via a work order, a descriptive label on the equipment or a one-line drawing. Second, employers must select the PPE, which includes insulated tools and protective clothing. Third, the employer is required to train workers in safe work practices — and in particular, how to match the PPE to the level of the electrical hazard. And finally, OSHA 1910.269(a)(2)(iii) requires employers to “determine, through regular supervision and through inspections conducted on at least an annual basis, that each employee is complying with the safety-related work practices …”

Were the workers performing the tasks qualified to do so?

OSHA defines qualified workers as those specially trained to work on live electrical equipment. Qualified workers must protect themselves against all electrical hazards including shock, arc flash, burns and explosions. Training is key. Even an experienced electrician is not “qualified” in OSHA’s eyes unless the employer can show proof of the appropriate training and certifications.

OSHA 1910.332(b)(2) also requires unqualified workers to be trained in the electrical safe work practices that are necessary for their safety. Unqualified workers, such as painters or cleaners, occasionally come into contact with energized equipment, and therefore they must be trained to recognize and avoid electrical hazards. 

Today Article by: Kenneth Cybart, Senior Technical Sales Engineer at Littelfuse, trains managers how to keep electrical workers safe and meet OSHA and NFPA standards. He has 20 years of experience in circuit protection applications, has authored several electrical safety articles and has been a speaker at industry events. He can be reached at

OSHA updates proposed standards for 2012/2013

May 10, 2012 Comments off

In a recent OSHA update mailer, the Assistant Secretary of Labor, David Michaels, laid out the standards they are planning to publish both this year and in 2013. For this year they are planning standards for: confined spaces in construction, electric power, and consultation agreements. They don’t specifically call it out but, from what I’ve been told the electric power reference is likely to be the revised 1910.269 Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution standard they’ve been promising for at least 5 or 6 years. Depending on how the standard reads it may have minimal effect since most of the utility industry has already moved into FR – but with OSHA you never know. I’ll keep you posted as more information comes to light.

One of the standards scheduled for high profile activity in 2013 includes combustible dust. How far this one goes will depend on many factors including the OSHA budget and what priority it gets relative to some of the other standards working their way through OSHA bureaucracy. I’ll keep you updated as information comes in, but don’t hold your breath. I was told the 1910.269 (Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution) standard was coming out any time now when I started in 2006 and you see where it stands. We can only hope the combustible dust standard goes down a faster track.

Please email me if you have any questions –
Thanks, Mark

Coming Attraction: Heat Stress

May 8, 2012 Comments off

With summer rapidly approaching heat stress will again will rise to the top of the list of hazards to be aware of. As everyone should be, heat stress is a very dangerous condition and is particularly prevalent during physical activity in hot and humid working conditions.  During these working conditions, symptoms like heat rashes, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and ultimately heat stroke can manifest themselves.


As a reminder, the body continually generates heat that must be released in order to maintain the proper core temperature. The body’s natural sweating process and the eventual evaporation of the sweat, draws the energy needed to vaporize the moisture from the remaining sweat on the skin. This cooler moisture on the skin helps reduce the overall core temperature. This is called evaporative cooling.

There are four basic mechanisms to cool the body:

Radiation – heat from the skin is absorbed by the surrounding cooler air (normally 64% of the body’s heat release)
Conduction – heat pulled away by direct contact with a cooler object like water (normally 2%)
Convection – moving air (breeze, fan) can encourage evaporation and heat loss (normally 10%)
Evaporation – moisture on the skin’s surface (sweat) evaporates leaving cooler moisture and skin – evaporative cooling (normally 23%)


The fabric and the garment can have an effect on the ability to allow the body to cool itself but it is much less than one might think. The chart below shows how various types and weights of both FR and non-FR fabrics all fall into the heat stress zone with hot humid weather when performing heavy labor. The lighter weight fabrics do a bit better but at elevated temperatures what you wear is not the most critical factor leading to heat stress.

Other factors that affect the level and the speed at which heat stress can occur include:

Age – our ability to produce sweat decreases with age
Gender – men begin sweating at a lower temperature than woman
BMI – more fat insulates the core which increases sweat production
Hydration – not consuming enough water causing dehydration
Activity level – the more active the more heat generated and increased sweat production


There are numerous warning signs as heat stress begins to occur. Knowing the warning signs could allow a worker to take the appropriate steps to get the situation under control. Some of the warning signs are: headache, light-headedness, dizziness, unusual fatigue, irritability, confusion, nausea/vomiting, cramping and diarrhea. These signs manifest due to the body redirecting blood from internal organs and muscles to the skin in an attempt to shed the heat. Plus the sweating action means a loss of fluids and possible dehydration.


There are a number of actions that can be taken to help reduce the effect of heat stress including:

Rest – take regular rest breaks
Hydration – drink lots of water
Shade – take advantage of a shady spot when possible
Type of garment/fabric – wear light weight and light colored garments/fabrics that don’t trap in the heat and promote evaporative cooling
Limit alcohol consumption

 The two most effective ways of reducing heat stress are taking regular rest breaks and drinking plenty of water, particularly above 95°F and at high humidity levels. When it comes to the type of garment and fabric, their function in minimizing heat stress is one of allowing the heat to radiate off the body by not trapping in the heat (weight & weave) and also by helping move sweat off the skin and onto the surface of the fabric (wicking) where it can evaporate. As shown above, the attire worn indicates that single layer garments, in general, play a relatively minor or inconsequential role in causing or reducing heat stress; especially as compared to those more important practices of proper hydration and rest breaks. The information shows that commonly used single layer FR fabrics show little difference in their ability to provide the wearer with more or less heat stress relief in severe heat conditions.

Weight – the weight of the fabric is a factor in that the sheer mass of the fabric serves as insulation and can restrict heat from releasing away from the body. This is why a heavier fabric typically keeps you warmer in cold weather and lighter weight is typically cooler in hot weather.
Weave – the weave plays a role by allowing air flow (air permeability) to assist in cooling (convection) by picking up heat as well as helping to evaporate moisture (evaporation). It can also work in reverse if the air is hotter than the skin. In this case heat is transferred from the air to the skin.
Wickability – the fabric’s ability to absorb moisture from the skin and transfer it to the surface allows for evaporation and for evaporative cooling to take place. This only works well if the fabric easily allows the moisture to evaporate and doesn’t just stay wet


To minimize the potential for heat related problems this summer – plan work activities so workers can take regular rest breaks, drink plenty of water, and get out of the sun. Plus, know the warning signs so you can take the appropriate actions, before the situation gets dangerous.


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