OSHA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Cited Standards- FY 2015

July 22, 2016

OSHA Penalties increased 78% August 1, 2016.

Think of your efforts here as an investment in "Penalty Prevention."

Think of your efforts here as an investment in “Penalty Prevention.”

The following is a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA for Fiscal Year 2015.

  1. 1926.501 – Fall Protection (C)
  2. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
  3. 1926.451 – Scaffolding (C)
  4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
  5. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
  6. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
  7. 1926.1053 – Ladders (C)
  8. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
  9. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding
  10. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements

Note,  the standards that are numbered 1926.XXX – Numbers 1. Fall protection, 3. Scaffolding, and 7. Ladders, are Construction industry, rather than General Industry. Nevertheless, Fall Protection and Ladders are relevant in our manufacturing shops as well. Source: Top Ten Standards 2015

In our work with shops involved in OSHA inspections, we have learned that failure to have documented training and evidence is the more likely to be the root cause of the citation. You must train and you must be able to provide documentary evidence of the training.

A savvy management will take steps in their shops to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA shows up.


Action Steps:

  1. Electrical-On your next walk around the shop, look for outlets and power boxes that are not in good condition and schedule their repair ASAP. If you can see wiring or damage- that is likely a violation.
  2. Machine GuardingThis is a particular area of OSHA emphasis. Are all provided guards in place, or are they being removed or defeated? Each instance would be a violation.
  3. Lockout/TagoutThis too is an OSHA emphasis and on their regulatory agenda for review. Now would be a good time to review that all affected employees have been trained. That evidence exists of that training. And that you have audited  to assure performance. (If I went into your shop and saw a machine undergoing a major changeover, would I find it locked out?)




Thinking Precision, Thinking Big- Keystone Threaded Products

June 9, 2016

The Team at Keystone Threaded Products shows us that “Precision” doesn’t necessarily mean “Tiny” as they thread the ends of some 20 foot long, 10 inch stainless steel bars for a Metalworking press. The thread is a 10-1/4″ : 4 UNJ RH applied to  each end of the  3 and a half ton bar.

@0 feet long two ends to thread, 3 and a half tons of precision.

20 feet long, two ends to thread, 3 and a half tons of precision.

At Keystone, they roll the thread form onto the material which makes for a stronger thread. Alignment and following the process is critical to assure a good thread.

Thread rolling dies create the thread form on the workpiece.

Thread rolls create the thread form on the work piece.

Multiple passes are needed to build the thread up to the proper dimensions.

HAldf a million pounds of pressure are imparted on the rolls to plastically move the steel of the bar into the thread form. Read the gage.

Half a million pounds of pressure are imparted on the rolls to plastically move the steel of the bar into the thread form. Read the gage.

Obviously it takes knowledge, skills, and experience to apply half  million pounds to produce precision work.

Rich says that he's rolled larger bars, but the confidence that skills and experience and a great team to work with make precision manufacturing a great career.

Rich says that he’s rolled larger bars, but  skills and experience and a great team to work with  create the can do spirit that makes precision manufacturing a great career.

Here’s another look at a finished bar. Precision does not necessarily mean tiny!

Just another point of view so you can see the size of the work.

Just another point of view so you can see the size of the work.


Thanks to Betsy Minnick and the Team at PMPA member Keystone Threaded Products for showing us that “Precision” is not a synonym for “Tiny.”

Orders of Magnitude – Key to Process Problemsolving

May 17, 2016

If you have an intermittent  or periodic problem, start counting frequency of occurrence, and then figure out what the order of magnitude is compared to your process.

 in our shops, order of magnitude reflects the relative scale of our processes and helps us see what is and is not applicable to the problem at hand.

In our shops, order of magnitude reflects the relative scale of our processes and helps us see what is and is not applicable to the problem at hand.

To solve periodic or intermittent problems in our shops, the first step after identifying the problem is collecting data about “When” and “How often” it occurs. Then, comparing it to the orders of magnitude that occur naturally in your shop can help you narrow down the likely causes.

Relative frequency can be a big help, when you figure out that the frequency has some relationship or equivalence to some aspect of your process. For example, if the frequency is about equal to two occurrences per bar, than it becomes relevant to look at bar ends first, With two ends per bar, or the fact that you might get just two parts out of the first bar end, this tying of frequency to an order of magnitude denominator saves a lot of thrashing about to try to identify root cause.

What are some orders of magnitude that occur in your shop that you should consider for your problemsolving efforts on intermittent or periodic problems?

Material Order of Magnitude

  • Per Piece
  • Per Bar
  • Per Bundle
  • Per Lot
  • Per Order
  • Per Heat
  • Per Supplier

Your shop processes have orders of magnitude too.

Per Machining Operation

  • Per Spindle
  • Per Stock Up
  • Per Machine
  • Per Shift
  • Per Release
  • Per Batch
  • Per Lot
  • Per Production Order

How does this work? In a prior life I had an intermittent customer complaint for a twisted square bar product. The customer was counting bad pieces cut from bars in bundles.The frequency was extremely low, it was not at one per bar or one per ten bars, nor one per twenty bars. It turned out to be approximately, slightly less than  “one piece per bundle.” Knowing that the frequency was that low, we were able to eliminate most of our upstream of bundle process steps. They would have generated much higher frequencies – more on the order of multiple occurrences per bar.

Based on our frequency being an  approximate order of magnitude of one per bundle, we focused our investigation on the product and process at and after the bundle stage.  Which was where our problem occurred-when a single bar  end was being twisted by the movement of the last strapping and clip installation as it was tightened for packaging. the balance of the bar was held securely by the prior installed starps, but the tensioning unit grabbed one corner of a bar as it secured the final band around the bars, creating a twist in the end of the bar held under the tension of the clip that locked in that last strap.

Without comparing frequency of occurrence to orders of magnitude in our process, we would probably still be trying to figure out where in our process we could twist  just one 14″ segment out of 3,260 feet of bars. We’d be in denial, and eventually lose the customer.

If you have an intermittent  or periodic problem with your products, start counting frequency of occurrence, and then figure out what the order of magnitude is compared to your process.



Image credit

Upset Testing- Steel in Compression

April 5, 2016

Mechanical properties of a given steel under compression compare closely with its tensile properties. An upset can be performed to determine how the steel will perform under compressive load.

Upset testing

Upset testing

A brittle steel under compression will ultimately fail by breaking along cleavage lines at an angle approximately 30 degrees from the axis of pressure being applied.

A more ductile steel flattens out, rather than cleaving, showing vertical cracks around the outer circumference. This ductile steel will not break, but will continue to flatten  as more stress (load or force) is applied.

This compression or upset test is helpful for assuring that a steel will successfully cold work.

It can also be used to determine the extent of seams, laps or other surface imperfections  on the surface of the bar. That’s what I used to do when we were producing drawn wire for cold heading applications.

ISM PMI Indicates Manufacturing Industry Growth Resumed in March 2016

April 1, 2016

“Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in March for the first time in the last six months, while the overall economy grew for the 82nd consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.”

Manufacturing is back!

Manufacturing is back!

“The March PMI® registered 51.8 percent, an increase of 2.3 percentage points from the February reading of 49.5 percent. The New Orders Index registered 58.3 percent, an increase of 6.8 percentage points from the February reading of 51.5 percent. The Production Index registered 55.3 percent, 2.5 percentage points higher than the February reading of 52.8 percent.”

Graph courtesy Calculated Risk Blog

Graph courtesy Calculated Risk Blog

This is good news for the precision machined products industry. Our products make most manufactured technologies function and perform whether, electrical, electronic, hydraulic or fluid power, or simply utility control.

Of the 12  markets reporting growth in March,  Furniture & Related Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Machinery; Plastics & Rubber Products;  Fabricated Metal Products;  Primary Metals; and Computer & Electronic Products are served by our industry. Of the remaining markets reporting contraction, Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Transportation Equipment are markets heavily served by our industry.

The resumption of manufacturing expansion is welcomed, and we hope will put  to rest the speculation of a recession just around the corner. Manufacturing represents almost a third of our economy see our article here

ISM report here

Calculated Risk (Graph)

Scissors Lift Fatalities Prompt OSHA Safety Alert

April 1, 2016

OSHA Issues Safety Alert- Scissors Lifts

10 fatalities and 20 serious injuries over a one year period spurred the alert.

What you need to know:

  • Only trained operators permitted to use;
  • Training must be complete;
  • Equipment must be properly maintained;
  • PPE must be worn;
  • Lift platforms must have guardrails in place, and employees must not stand on guardrails;
  • Never move a lift when the platform is elevated per Manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Outdoor operations only when wind speeds are below 28 mph.

Pre-shift scissors lift inspection Graphic Courtesy Toyota Lift Truck of Minnesota:


Link to OSHA Alert: Scissors Lift Hazard Alert

ToyotaEquipment of Minnesota Graphic

OSHA Aerial Lifts Fact Sheet

Lean Explained In Just 2 Photos

March 31, 2016

Editing to remove non- value adding distractions and waste is the true essence of Lean.

There are many distractiong non value added elements in this photo.

There are many distracting non-value-added elements in this photo.


lean eliminates those distractions to reveal the true value.

Lean eliminates those distractions to reveal the true value.

Who is the “Lean Editor” to cut the non-value-added distractions and waste throughout your shop?


3 Keys to Productive Drilling

March 3, 2016

Here are  three of my favorite and most shared ideas to get the most from drills in your shop.

135 Degree Screw Machine Drill

135 Degree Screw Machine Drill

  • Keep the drill short.
  • Get the feed rate right.
  • Replace the drill on schedule before it dulls.


Keep the drill short. Drills need a rigid setup. Having extra length can lead  to deflection and drill wander. There is a reason that drills for screw machining applications are short- we need the rigidity. I learned this while working as the metallurgist for a steel bar company. I got a call from a customer that my steel wouldn’t drill straight. After a 3-1/2 hour drive to the customer’s shop out of state, I found a very narrow diameter drill (maybe 3/16″) being held in a Jacobs chuck the size of my head, being held on a Morse taper the length of my forearm. Or maybe a bit longer. Add to that a very short cycle time, and the drill and chuck never got to a repeatably steady location- they were vibrating until they entered into the next workpiece.  They could enter that workpiece at a number of different locations based on that vibration and moment arm. We shortened the setup considerably and suddenly the steel that we provided was drilling straight, true and on center.

Get the feed rate right. When I was learning machining, I was taught that the feed rate determines your success in drilling. After years and years in shops like yours, I am convinced that what I was taught is correct. Yes, the wrong speed can burn up a drill. But getting the feed right assures that the chips break up appropriately. that they will flow smoothly down the flutes. Proper feed assures that the drill won’t “chip out” on the cutting edge, and also that the drill itself won’t crack  or split up the center from too heavy of a feed.

Planned replacement of the drill before it dulls will make  you more parts per shift. This is an under- appreciated way of thinking. In most companies, they have a purchasing culture and want to get the most out of a tool before replacing it. In the most profitable companies, they have a “respect the process” culture that focusses on maintaining process control, not maximum tool life. By replacingthe drill before it gets dull, they minimize downtime, They minimize the production of defective parts. They minimize the creation of workhardening in the parts produced prior to tool replacement. This means less downtime, more trouble-free uptime, and more parts at the end of the shift. Twenty extra minutes of production on a part with a ten second cycle time is an extra 120 parts at the end of the shift. Shippable, billable, no- anomaly parts.

There are other factors besides feed that influence drilling, I will grant you that.

Proper speed, proper coating, proper geometry, effective delivery of coolant– we could create quite a list.

But in my experience, the three factors that hold the secret to productive drilling in our precision machining shops are short rigid setups, proper feed, and planned or scheduled replacement. These three factors are the keys to getting more parts with less trouble out of your shop.

What do you think?

Photo credit:  ENCO


Make It Work Or Make It Right?

January 8, 2016

Making it work might get the machine back up and running in half an hour, but if a quarter of the parts produced are then rejected, what was the point?

The paradox that our operators face daily is they often need to choose between “Make it work,”  versus “Make it right.”

Are you a “make it work” or “make it right” kind of guy?

Is yours a “make it work” or “make it right” kind of shop?

Keep your answer to yourself until you finish this short piece.

Make it workMake it Work.

How many times when you were working production and an obstacle arises, were you given this sage counsel from the boss: “We really need to get these parts out. Just make it work!” So using all of the brainpower of MacGyver, we cobble together some patch, blend of adjustments, shims, love taps with a hammer, regrinds, or other chicanery to get the process up and running- making it work.

Making it work...

Making it work…


And then the parts go to quality, where a substantial percentage of them are rejected, if not for the original issue, then for a new issue-an unanticipated but very real consequence of the “just make it work we’ve got product to ship” adjustments that you made. Bottom line, fewer parts than plan, fewer conforming parts than produced, fewer shippable parts at the end of the day, and very low earned hours of production, despite the time and materials used to “make it work.”

Can't Ship. Don't get paid.

Can’t Ship. Don’t get paid.

Make It Right

Professional machinists don’t buy the “make it work” instruction. They know that a part that won’t ship to the customer is a part that company won’t get paid for. It’s waste. A waste of the material, machine time, utilities, and their time to make a non-conforming part. Instead of trying to “make it work, professionals work on trying to understand the problem, determine its root causes, and then take effective corrective actions. Making it work might get the machine back up and running in half an hour, but if a quarter of the parts produced are then rejected, what was the point?

make it right

By taking the time to do more than just “make it work” with a cobbled together workaround, the professional eliminates the root cause and returns the process to statistical control, making it right.

Yes, maybe the machine was down an extra half hour or hour compared to the quick “make it work” fix that hopefully, but likely doesn’t, really get you back up and running good parts.

At the end of the day, I’m betting that more shippable parts will be produced by the “Make it Right” philosophy, than the “Make It Work” philosophy.  Urgent is not a synonym for Good. The tyranny of the urgent is the enemy of good.

Yes, we all know that we get paid when we ship good parts. We all know that we can only ship good parts when the machine is running. Nope- correction. We all know that we can only ship good parts when the machine is making good parts- under statistical control, using the approved process.  Make it work is at best a risky gamble – minimizing short term gain for longer term rejection. We shouldn’t be gambling in our shops.

Make it right.

Photo credit Make it work

Photo credit MacGyver

Photocredit Reject Tag

Photocredit Picard


Bolted Joints- More Than You Think

December 23, 2015

Bolted joints are a staple of modern engineering and manufacturing practice.

Modern life is modern because of our mastery of materials and bolted joints.

I would be hard pressed to name a technology that does NOT depend on bolted joints in some aspect of its construction and operation.

Here are two videos that describe the challenges faced by bolted joints.

When you see that piece of heavy equipment, man lift, or structural application, you can be assured that the engineers have evaluated the risk.

For those of us in manufacturing, these are great tutorials to stoke our “Mastery of our craft.”

In maching, bolting that secures our tools and fixtures is subject to the same challenges as shown in these films.


Hat Tip to Jeff Remaley of Motch and Eichele for the find.

Do you have a favorite video explaining some aspect of engineering, machining, or manufacturing? Send us a link  in the comments so we can share it.