Inspected Your Slings And Straps Lately?

November 20, 2012

Inspection of all lifting devices was a monthly “Must Do” when I was supervisor at the steel company.

Is it even an assigned responsibility to anyone in your shop?

Here is a photo of a strap I found- would you like it to be holding a 4000# bundle of steel over your half million dollar (or so) production machine as it carried barstock to the job?

(I’m sure that you’ve  already trained (and documented that training for) everyone on your crew to never be “caught beneath” any overhead lift.)

Whose responsibility is it to inspect these in your shop? When was last time that they did? Show me the record.

Rigging and lifting devices are an important responsibility.

Who has it in your shop?

Can you show me records of their diligence?

Avoid Installing Safety Problems

May 25, 2011

Guest Post- James Pryor II, ASH,Inc. Safety Consultants

One of the most frequently cited OSHA violations in precision machining is 29CFR1910.305 Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use.

The citations do not center around the factory assembled equipment-they predominatly cover  how we install itin our shops the installation.

It is the installation where most problems arise.

Probably not the best install: look at electrical box and wiring...

Here are 6 points of installation concern:

  • Temporary Wiring
  • Temporary electrical power
  • Temporary electrical installations
  • Cable Trays
  • Cabinets, boxes, and fittings
  • Flexible cords and cables

The equipment installation is where most problems arise. Metal raceways, cable trays, cable armor, cable sheath, enclosures, frames, fittings, and other metal noncurrent-carrying parts that are to serve as grounding conductors are a few of the areas covered in this standard.

OSHA New Personal Protective Equipment Enforcement Guidelines

March 10, 2011

On February 10th 2011 OSHA issued new enforcement guidelines in regards to personal protective equipment (PPE).

Here’s the link: PPE Enforcement Guidance

“This instruction, Enforcement Guidance for Personal Protective Equipment in General Industry, establishes OSHA’s general enforcement and guidance policy for its standards addressing personal protective equipment (PPE). It instructs OSHA enforcement personnel on both theagency’s interpretations of those standards and the procedures for enforcing them.” 

Not legal in the USA!

 The scope of this enforcement guidance includes head, face, eye, foot , respiratory protection , protective clothing and electrical protective equipment. All per 29 CFR 1910.132 through 29 CFR 1910.138. The areas that will directly impact  Precision machining establishments include:

1) Assuring that the proper personal protective equipment has been properly chosen and issued,;

2) An active program of enforcement is in place on its proper usage.  

3) Documentation should be in place in regards to  both of these aspects, as well as regarding no cost to employees as discussed in the new guidance provision.

Have you reviewed  your  company’s personal protective equipment policy / program ?

Are you aware of the new OSHA enforcement guidance?

Below are a few tips to consider in your review 

  • Has a Job Safety Analysis been performed on all tasks to determine if PPE is required ?
  • Has the proper PPE been selected?
  • Is the PPE properly maintained, inspected and stored ?
  • Have medical exams been given to  employees in reference to the use of certain types of PPE?
  • Are all records pertaining to your PPE program current ?

The new guidance document is a 54 page .pdf easily downloadable. I’d urge you to download and review it now. 

Post coauthored by James Pryor and Miles Free

photo Copyright  (C) 2003-2011 Miles Free


1.79 cents for your thoughts

February 8, 2011

It is difficult to make money making small metallic parts. Just ask the folks who make money over at the US mint. (And they have a monopoly!)

1.79 cents for your thoughts...

The unit cost of producing and distributing the penny: $0.0179

Back in the day, these were over 90% copper, today they would cost about 2.5 cents.

According to the 2010 US Mint Annual Report, the penny, nickel and dime made up 87.7 % of total shipments- 5,399,000,00 circulating coins produced in 2010.

You think you have raw material price increases?

The per unit cost of the blanks for nickel rose 2.3 cents over 2009, increasing total nickel cost by 52.9 %.

Cost up 52.9%, but its still just a nickel.

 So what did it cost the mint to make that 2010 nickel in your pocket?


Thats 9.2 cents

Fortunately, they make it up with volume, on the dime and quarter, which cost $0.0569 and $0.1278 to produce and distribute respectively.

If there is a lesson in all this, it just might be that “nobody, not even a government monopoly, makes any money producing the cheap metallic parts. Even in high volumes.”

P.S.: And hats off to the production and management team at the U.S.Mint. They did it while experiencing a 15 year low in injuries and illnesses- a record year for safety.

Penny Photo Credit.

Nickel photo credit.

Choose To Have Cleanest Shop In The Universe

January 11, 2011

Good housekeeping enables many things in your shop- all good!


Let no one say "all was cleanliness here, until you came..."


I recall when a colleague was given a “battlefield promotion” from inside sales manager to plant manager at a steel plant that was closing. My colleague confided in me by saying, “I don’t know how to run a plant; I don’t know this; I don’t know that.”

My comment to her was simple: “I’ve been to your home. It is a clean and safe place. Think of the mill as your home. Does it meet your standards for safety? Does it meet your standards for housekeeping? If you don’t tolerate dirty laundry on the floor in your home, why would you let your crew put debris or rags on the floor of the shop — your home away from home?”

During the period of time that she was plant manager, her plant (despite the stress of imminent closing) had the top safety record, the top on-time performance record and the best crew attitude.

There was no uncertainty in her crew. They knew that she expected an orderly, free-from-trash, no-waste work environment (and lunchroom). That’s how she managed. Along with that came improved safety, attitude and performance. Those are not bad side effects from just focusing on one area.

Is housekeeping an area you choose to focus on in 2011?

And what do you expect as the side effects of your choice?

Original Article: Production Machining

Photo credit: Floating Branch Products


A Dozen Tips To Assure your Safety Compliance

June 17, 2010

Here are 12 good ideas for you and your safety program.

The new sheriff in town continues to make enforcement OSHA’s top priority.

Here are 12 good ideas  from American Safety and Health Management Consultants,Inc. to help you and your team avoid the new sheriff’s thirst for fines and penalties.

  1. Make safety a key priority. Really.
  2. Be ready for an inspection. Do not be caught off guard. Even if you aren’t there- have a plan.
  3. Review all written programs and update where necessary.
  4. Ensure that all employees receive the OSHA required training, document the training and follow up to assure they “got it.”
  5. Inspect your facility, or have a safety professional do it for you.
  6. Correct any and all violations as soon as practical.
  7. Follow up on employee safety related concerns.
  8. Establish supervisor responsibilities and hold them accountable.
  9. Know what to do in case of an OSHA inspection. Have assigned personnel to handle this.
  10. Audit your safety programs at least annually and develop a safety action calendar for each new year.
  11. Enforce you company safety policies fairly and consistently.
  12. Recognize and reward employees for good safety performance.

Photo of eggs.

(Actually, they aren’t really eggs.  And fining employers isn’t really about safety.)


6 Reasons Why Physics Is Critical To Contract Machining

June 2, 2010

Great question came in the other day.

“Since the computers control the machines, why do we need to have physics in our graduation curriculum?”

I won’t tell you the State Board of Education that was looking at removing Physics from the  high school curriculum.

Apparently they don’t see a need for a  person entering the Precision Machining workplace  to know any physics.

Who needs physics to push a button?

Who needs physics to push a button?

If they don’t understand the forces around them, how can they keep from getting hurt?

Here’s what I shared with them.

Since everything is computer controlled– that’s the new MAGIC, right?- why would any high school graduate going into the workplace these days need to know any physics?  I’m guessing that, “so they can understand how the electricity that powers his machine the computer, and the lights,”  isn’t a good enough answer.

1)Power and Work: All machines are horsepower rated. This determines what jobs they can perform. Materials are machined based on horsepower per cubic inch  of removal per minute.  By the State Board’s reasoning, “Since the clock takes care of the minutes, are we okay to just not know any of this?”

2) Mechanics: This is our craft! We need leverage, thread pitch, gear ratios, belts and pulleys. We calculate the surface feet per minute of rotating tools or workpieces,  given the RPM and diameter. Even the computer needs this info. Cams, clutches, springs, motors, friction and frictional losses- these are physics. Bearings,  force, stress, strain- these are applicable to understanding the machining task regardless of machine control type. Compressed air- expansion, horsepower required, volume, fluid flow…

3) Heat: Heat is the enemy in machining operations. Why not learn a little bit about this? Savvy shops today are using infrared thermography to detect bearing wear in equipment. Some kinds of tool failure are  caused by heat. Understanding insulation, conduction, thermal expansion and contraction are key if the parts will be in spec after they have cooled down  post machining.

4) Sound: Decibel measurement is important as applied to occupational exposure. Harmonics come into play on tools and workpieces as oscillation- chatter. Water hammer in plumbed systems and fluid power applications.

5) Light and optics: Non-contact gaging using lasers, optical projectors for quality control; optical flats for high precision measurements rely on counting interference bands…  We use portable spectrometers for product sorting.  Someone in the shop will need to have an understanding of spectrums, wavelengths, and emissions  if they are to be more than an idiot operated go/no  go gage.

6) Magnetism: Magnetism can cause surface finish problems if chips cling to work. There are several types of magnetic tests performed in our shops and those of our suppliers. They use eddy currents, permeability,  gauss, oersteds, saturation, coercivity. We employ  magnetism for proximity detection of parts, magnetic workholding , and for testing. It goes with out saying that it is magnetism in the electric motors that drives our machines.

What do you think about this topic? Do the people showing up looking for work have what it takes to understand your process? Or are they merely able to do what they are told?


Don’t Try This With Your Saw!

May 13, 2010

Listen as you watch.

Until you get this saw, you better keep the guards in place on your equipment!

1000 G’s Deceleration!

While this is an amazing technology, it reminds us to keep our wits about us and guards in place on our equipment. Enjoy!


New OSHA Mechanical Press Bulletin

March 18, 2010

Our industry doesn’t use “mechanical power presses” per se, but the OSHA Mechanical Power Press Standard, 29 CFR 1910.127 is often cited as governing our automatic cycling equipment.

Point of operation hazards are not just limited to power Presses, and may be found in our industry’s equipment as well.

The most common type of injury associated with mechanical power presses is amputation. Shouldn't have one of these showing up at your shop.

To reduce the frequency of occurrence of amputation injuries, OSHA has just published a new Safety and Health Information Bulletin on Hazards Associated with the “Unintended (Double) Cycling” of Mechanical Power Presses.

The references and bibliography may be of more than passing interest, especially if you have a power press somewhere in your operation as an ancillary operation.

If you have a number of these presses, YOU NEED THIS BULLETIN.

Even if you do not have “Mechanical Presses” in your shop, the OSHA etool found here will help you with safety in your shop.


OSHA Inspections: Speakingofpriorities

December 10, 2009

OSHA inspections don’t just ‘happen.’ They are the result of some initiating circumstance that makes them a priority. OSHA inspection priorities  follow the hazards faced by the public that OSHA is charged to protect. While no lapse is desireable in one’s safety planning and execution, the highest priority items for OSHA should also be your highest priority to eliminate.

How many imminent dangers can you find?

Imminent danger situations. Hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm receive the top priority. As they should. Compliance officers (OSHA INSPECTORS) will ask employers to correct these hazards immediately. If the hazard cannot be removed, then the employees that are exposed should be.  Imminent danger and serious physical harm should not be part of working  in precision manufacturing.

Fatalities and catastrophes.  My take on this is that a catastrophe is an incident that requires the hospitalization of three or more employees. We all know what a fatality is. You must report these to OSHA within 8 hours. You can expect the OSHA follow up right away.

Complaints. If someone alleges that a hazardous situation exists, you can bet the agency will treat it seriously.  More seriously, in fact than referrals from other agencies.

Referrals from other agencies, organizations, or media. While these are not an assured way to initiate an investigation by OSHA,  they are considered.

Follow-ups (abatement). Checks to assure that violations cited from prior inspections are a lower priority, but remain a class of inspections that you can expect. Best prevention- Don’t have prior violations.

Planned or programmed investigations. The current National Emphasis Program  (NEP) on Recordkeeping is an example of this. These have been typically targeted at specific high hazard industries or workplaces that have high rates of injury and illness.

Whenever my team brought a problem in to me I asked them three questions.

 “Was there a procedure?”

“Was it followed? “

“Was it effective?”

 They always knew what the fourth question would be- Why not?

Do you have a procedure or system to assure that no imminent danger situations exist in your shop?

 Do you have a system to assure that your people are instructed, trained, and their knowledge reviewed to assure they follow safe and best practices?

Are you leading by example and setting the highest standards for safety, just as you do for quality and service, in your shop?

You know what the next question is.