Beat the Heat!

In our industry, working outdoors in all sorts of weather is part of the job.  Because you can’t stop working when it gets hot, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from heat and what to do if someone on your crew gets overheated.

There are two main kinds of heat illness – heat stroke and heat exhaustion.  Because they require different treatments learn to tell the difference between the two.

A victim of heat stroke has flushed, dry skin; a rapid heartbeat; loud, rapid breathing; and a high body temperature – 105F or more.  The victim may complain of dizziness and headache or may suffer from confusion, convulsions, delirium, or unconsciousness.  This is a medical emergency calling for quick action.  While one person calls for emergency services, others should get the victim cooled off.  Place the victim in a tub of cool water or use a hose or wet cloths to bring the temperature down.  Massage the victims hands and feet toward the heart to stimulate circulation of the cooler blood of the limbs.  Dry the victim off when the temperature returns to normal.  Repeat the cooling process if the body temperature rises again.

A victim of heat exhaustion looks very different from a heat stroke victim.  This person sweats profusely and has pale, clammy skin.  Body temperature is normal.  The victim may feel giddy and nervous, or may vomit or faint.  First aid for heat exhaustion is to get the victim to lie in a cool place and sip cool water.  Loosen the victim’s clothes and call a doctor.  A victim who is unconscious or vomiting will need to be taken to a hospital to be treated intravenously.

Heat exhaustion sometimes includes heat cramps.  This is caused by a lack of salt.  You can relieve the cramps by massaging the cramped muscles or pressing firmly on them with your hands.  If the victim has no other medical condition, you can give half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of cool water or fruit juice.

Heat-related illness is no fun.  And it’s usually preventable.  Here’s what to do to keep healthy in hot weather:

If you’re not used to working in heat, start out slowly.  Drink plenty of water – at least eight ounces (one glass) every 20 – 30 minutes while on the job.  Drink a nutrient replenishing sports drink with electrolytes.  Avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks, which can cause dehydration and cramps.  Cut heavy, high-fat foods out of your diet and get plenty of rest.  Pay attention to warning signs – if you don’t feel good take a break.

One more thing – pay attention to each other!  You may notice a coworker with flushed skin and rapid breathing before he or she does.  And if he or she must go to the hospital, guess who gets to do his work?

Remember: Hazard Awareness + Hazard Mitigation + Focus = Zero Injuries

Over 1000 Days Lost-Time Injury Free!

 

Earlier this month we surpassed 1000 Days without a lost-time injury.  That is an amazing accomplishment by our project teams, who work in unfamiliar locations as they travel from job to job.  The attention to detail and focus on safety must be at the forefront each and every day in order to avoid accidents.  Keeping our teams safe has been our priority, and it shows with this accomplishment.  Great job to each and every person working in the field – you make this happen!

Crane Safety

When PSG begins planning for an outage, we ask the customer for a Crane Safety Report complying with OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1910.179. This is an OSHA compliance issue that PSG feels is well warranted. First, we have a commitment to our employees to keep them safe from harm.   A crane malfunction can easily injure, maim or even kill. Second, we have a commitment to our customers to do quality work in the time frame allotted per their work scope.  That means the overhead crane needs to be in perfect operational condition in order for PSG to perform the outage safely.  A crane malfunction can damage customer property and/or delay operations during repairs.

Crane safety reports fall into two categories: Frequent and Periodic. Frequent inspections are for cranes that have been idle for a period of 1 month or more, but less than 6 months. This usage pattern necessitates conformance with a minimum set of OSHA requirements. Periodic inspections are for cranes that have been idle for a period of over 6 months. These cranes must be inspected according to more stringent OSHA requirements. Note that the less often the crane is used, the more vital the inspection.

One critical inspection for all cranes is a test of the upper limit switch. This switch is designed to prevent the hook block assembly from contacting the drum assembly.  If the block contacts the drum, the hook and block will fall from the maximum height of the crane, dropping whatever load is on that hook. That is a very scary prospect.

To minimize this prospect, the crane operator should keep the block well clear of the limit switch in normal operation. It is a safety device NOT an operational device. And it is just one of the necessary safety requirements which must be verified with the Crane Safety Report.

Safety Bulletin – Chainfalls and Come-Alongs

by Shannon Scruggs, PSG Safety Director

The chainfall and come-along are two very common manual mechanical lifting devices. Both are designed to provide safety to those using them. But they must be used properly if they are to function safely. Remember the following precautions:

1.   Always use the proper capacity hoist for the job you are about to do, remembering that two people pulling on the hand chain will increase the amount you can physically lift but will not increase the capacity of the hoist you are using.

2.   Inspect the hoist before you begin to lift any load. Check the upper and lower hooks to see that they swivel properly and are in good shape. Check the inspection date on the hoist housing to ensure it has been inspected within the last 12 months.

3.   Inspect the full length of chain as much as possible, look for badly gouged, worn or defective links. Make a load test by lifting and lowering a load slightly. This will tell the operator if the unit is functioning properly.

4.   Stand completely clear of the load at all times. Allow no portion of your body or a fellow worker’s body under the load.

5.   Center the load under the hoist.

6.   Always properly seat the load in the hook.

7.   Proper care and handling make a safe hoist. Remember the hoist was designed to ease our burden, and carelessness not only endangers the operator, but in many cases, a valuable load. Keep the chain hoists free of dirt and foreign material. Store all hand chain hoists in a hanging position in a clean area.

8.   Do not attempt to “fix” a defective chainfall or come-along. Tag it as “defective” and have it returned to the toolroom for repair or disposal.

Treat the hoist properly, respect its limitations and it will work safely for a long time to come.

Remember: Hazard Awareness + Hazard Mitigation + Focus = Zero Injuries

Safety and Hand Grenades

Ever heard the adage “Close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades”? We think that close calls are also important to maintaining a safe work environment. Exposing, analyzing, communicating and learning from these events is an important part of TGM®‘s safety program. We call these experiences “Near Miss” events. The resolution of one of our recent “Near Miss” events may benefit your operation.

Our mechanics were using a striking wrench to loosen bolts on a turbine. One mechanic held a rope attached to the end of the wrench in order to apply a slight torque to keep the wrench seated on the nut. Another mechanic struck the wrench with an 8 pound hammer. Naturally, the holder of the rope is standing along the path of the hammer swing. The rope is normally long enough to position the mechanic well outside the hammer’s path. In this recent case, space was tight and the rope was too short. No problem if every hammer blow strikes the wrench. The mechanic was confident, declaring “I never miss!”. Except he did, and struck his partner in his safety glasses. His partner suffered a slight cut from the glasses but was
otherwise OK. (See adjacent picture.)

TGM® takes these near misses very seriously. An immediate stand-down is ordered for that phase of the work and the circumstances are documented in both words and pictures. The corporate Safety Director is alerted and a discussion begins on how best to remedy the current situation in order to safely resume the task. The incident and its immediate resolution is communicated to all Technical Directors so they can beware of the hazard. This particular incident was judged a systemic hazard, so we began looking for a systemic solution. A reminder of the incident was also recorded in our latest Safety Slogan: “I NEVER miss” is NEVER an acceptable answer! (See other slogan winners HERE.)

Our solution is a specialized tool which allows a mechanic to stand perpendicular to the path of the hammer blow while holding the striking wrench. The picture at the top of the article shows a mechanic setting the wrench on a nut. He will get out of the way after another mechanic grabs the end of the tool. A second mechanic will strike the wrench. An added benefit is that the wrench will not go flying if it is dislodged from the nut.

Hydraulic wrenches are also used to remove nuts in close quarters. TGM® uses this tool where warranted. Hydraulic wrench manufacturers maintain explicit warnings regarding their use and require operators to have specialized training. The hydraulic sockets can shatter even when used properly. We have experienced several Near Miss incidents in their use, and have discussed the dangers in several other Turbine Tips. (See below).

One recent hydraulic socket failure demonstrated the importance of our current practices. We have a set of specialized sockets in each tool set which are dedicated for hydraulic use only and painted white to distinguish them from other sockets. The sockets and the wrenches are regularly inspected for damage when the tool set is returned to the warehouse after a job. An outage team can also get a replacement socket if they feel one is damaged or otherwise subject to failure. Before use, a socket is wrapped in a specialized tape which will contain the shattered pieces if it fails. The picture below demonstrates the effectiveness of these practices. Without the tape, the socket could have flown across the turbine deck.

Please Contact Us if you would like more information on procuring or using any of these tools.

"Off The Job" Safety

We emphasize a lot of “on the job” safety, but what about “off the job” safety? We have a responsibility to use what we learned in all of our safety training and apply it to everyday safety. A large part of safety training is to help you form a safe attitude – to encourage you to want to be safe and to think safety at all times. It is important not just to your employer, but to you and your family as well. What you do on your own time is your own business, but it is only natural that we are concerned about each other’s welfare, both on and off the job. Only an immature person would deliberately leave safety at work. However, there are times when we all get a little careless.

Accidents away from work account for 70 percent of all deaths and 55 percent of all injuries to workers. Your contribution would be difficult to replace if you were injured either on or off the job. Add this to the fact that as a spouse and/or a parent you are priceless to your family, so it is easy to see why a 24-hour safety effort is necessary.

The highways are prime areas of concern for safety away from work. Watch your speed on the road. Be patient getting out of the parking lot, and always watch the other driver.

Most of us are do-it-yourselfers around the house and this is where a lot of people are injured. Be careful when using ladders. Make sure your ladder is safe before climbing it – do not overreach or climb too high.

When using tools, pick the right tool for the job, do not use a tool if it is in poor condition. Power tools should be grounded with a three-pronged plug or double-insulated. Remember to stay off wet surfaces when using electric power tools. Always use PPE just as if you were on the job.

Watch weather conditions. For Northern employees, do not overexert yourself when shoveling snow and for Southern employees, do not work too long in the hot sun, especially if you have had a hard week on the job.

(Safety tips provided by Insperity Support Services)

Overhead Loads

A young construction worker was killed the same day his wife was coming home from the hospital with their first child. How did this occur? A crane was transporting a heavy, bulky section six or seven feet in the air to clear other objects. The load was guided by tag lines which were used by all of the workers except this young man. Although warned by his foreman to use the line, he didn’t. A lifting pad gave way and he was killed instantly.

Let’s face it, our job is dangerous within itself – we don’t need Murphy’s Law in the mix as well. Be aware of the load at all times, no matter how large or small it is. Remind yourself of this slogan the next time a load is lifted – “IF IT’S IN THE AIR, IT’S DANGEROUS”.

Let’s review some of the rules that can help keep us from getting injured by failing loads:

  • A load that can be carried close to the ground can be stabilized by a person at each end. These individuals must stay in the clear at all times, and the ground surface must be unobstructed and reasonably level.
  • Taglines should always be used where needed and definitely where the load is to be carried more than five feet above the ground. In some cases, ten-foot taglines should be used to guide loads being raised and lowered, rather than using extremely long lines that drag around the job and can snag on something.
  • On all jobs, only one person, generally the lead individual, should give signals to the crane operator. If you are assigned the job of directing the crane, follow these basic rules:
    • Always use standard hand signals to direct the crane operator.
    • Stand in the clear and place yourself where the operator can plainly see you and you can see the operator.
    • If you can’t see the load and another person is signaling to you, be sure everyone is in the clear before you give the signal to the operator. Remember, it takes time to relay signals.
    • Never permit a load to be lowered, raised, or swung over a worker’s head or an occupied building. If the operator can see the load, it’s the operator’s responsibility — without exception — to see that this rule is followed.

REMEMBER …..”If it’s in the air, it’s dangerous.”

Heat Stress

 It’s that time of year again – summertime – hot and unbearable weather. This year is starting off in pretty much the same pattern as years gone by. All over the U.S we are seeing extremely high heat temperatures, especially in the western portion where temperatures are reaching an average of 112° to 128° degrees. Many people are exposed to heat on some jobs, outdoors, or in hot indoor environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources, high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness.

Why is heat a hazard to workers?

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat. Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off. But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

How can heat-related illness be prevented?

Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Important ways to reduce heat exposure and the risk of heat-related illness include engineering controls, such as air conditioning and ventilation, that make the work environment cooler, and work practices such as work/rest cycles, drinking water often, and providing an opportunity for workers to build up a level of tolerance to working in the heat. Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do – acting quickly can save lives!
Remember, refrain from alcohol intake the night prior and drink plenty of fluids during the shift.