Big Problem = Hot! Hot! Hot!

The current heat wave engulfing the U.S presents big problems for all our employees. Particularly at risk are those who work in high air temperatures and/or high humidity, near radiant heat sources, and/or engage in strenuous physical activities. In other words, conditions typically found on the turbine deck.

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. We do this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.  Cooling the body becomes more difficult when the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat and sweating becomes the main way the body cools off. But sweating is ineffective in high humidity because the sweat can’t evaporate. In extremely low humidity, sweat may instantly evaporate from the skin, disguising the need to replace that vital water.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, the core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. Loss of salts (electrolytes) can impair muscle and brain function. Injury can also result from sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, loss of concentration, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Excessive heat can cause a range of illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Initially, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task. He may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often dizziness or even fainting. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler by staying in the shade and employing fans and adequate ventilation, or even air conditioning. If it is still hot, employ safe work practices such as enforced work/rest cycles, water breaks, and providing an opportunity for workers to build up a level of tolerance to working in the heat. Be sure to include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Remember to refrain from alcohol intake the night prior and coffee during the shift. Alcohol, coffee and some prescription medications are diuretics which increase the rate of fluid loss. If the temperature is soaring and you are not urinating, you are not getting enough fluids.

It’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat-related illness in yourself and others. Plan for an emergency and know what to do – acting quickly can save lives!

Compressed Air Danger Points

Compressed air is one of the most common shop tools, yet one of the most dangerous. Improper use can maim, blind, or even kill. Always wear eye protection and use face shields when working with air tools.

Danger Point – Accidental Hose Breach

If a compressed air hose is breached, the escaping pressure snaps the hose like a whip, attacking both personnel and equipment. The released air may contain scale from the fixed lines, or stir up loose material which can be driven into the eye like shrapnel. Protect the hose from cuts and blow-outs by protecting it from sharp and burred objects. Make sure there is plenty of slack at the connector — stress at the connector can weaken the hose and cause a blowout. Protect the hose from foot and vehicle traffic. Prevent kinks by coiling the hose when not in use and never hang it over a nail or hook. Use a broad support, preferably a curved surface.

Danger Point – Connectors

A hose is breached each time you disengage the connector. Proper procedure is to bleed out the pressure before disengaging a hose. Shop air outlets should not be “live” but should include a valve before the connector, and a bleed valve between that valve and the connector. If a bleed valve is not available, release hose pressure through an air ratchet or similar tool. Check to see that connectors are fastened securely. As an added safeguard, attach a positive locking device such as a safety clip or retainer at the source and at the attachment. This is especially important when using vibrating attachments such as chisels on a chipping hammer.

Danger Point – Blow Gun Nozzle

The blow gun attachment is a particularly dangerous tool. The air stream can blow an eye from its socket, and/or rupture an eardrum. Air driven beneath the skin can cause internal hemmorage and intense pain. Air that enters a body opening can burst internal organs and cause slow, agonizing death. Air used to clean surfaces can drive particles into the eye. Never use compressed air to clean off your clothes. Keep air pressure below 30 psi when cleaning surfaces or deep holes. Wear cup-type goggles and set up shields to protect passers-by, and others in the area. Never use air to remove dust – it just ends up in your lungs.

Danger Point – Unsafe Hoses

All hoses eventually wear out. Your hose may be ready to fail if you discover:

* cover blisters or lumps.
* cuts or gouges in the hose cover that expose the reinforcement.
* leaks at the coupling ends or anywhere along the length of the hose.
* flattened or kinked areas which have damaged the hose.
* a reduction in flow indicating that the tube is swelling.

When any of these conditions occur, it is good safety sense to immediately remove the hose from service. Once removed, the hose can be carefully inspected and replaced if necessary.

Ask your own safety question by contacting Mr Turbine.

Beware Exploding Sockets

Beware Exploding Sockets

Hytorc® bolting heads have long been regarded as a safer alternative to hammering on a striking wrench to remove stubborn case bolts.  But even impact sockets can shatter under extreme Hytorc® pressures, sending shrapnel rocketing across the turbine deck.  These explosive failures can cause serious injury or even death.

These failures can be reduced, but not eliminated, by using the correct socket. Impact rated sockets must be used at a minimum.    Old or worn sockets are of particular concern. Ill-fitting sockets do not fit tight on bolt heads.  This changes the stress points from the corners to the flats of the sockets and causes them to fail.  Best practice is to inspect sockets regularly and color code or otherwise identify them for this use. Another check for reliability would be to have the sockets inspected for potential indications of stress using NDE methods.  Hytorc® makes their own sockets and this may give an extra level of confidence.  However, in their safety note, Hytorc® only prohibits the use of altered, heavily used, damaged or chrome sockets.

Any socket can fail, so take steps to mitigate the result.  If possible, shroud the socket with a piece of pipe cut slightly bigger than the diameter of the socket and same height. If the socket fails, the pipe will hold everything inside. TGM is currently investigating a fiber impregnated tape designed to contain the debris. We also recommend tying off the head to prevent it dropping or flying off after a failure.

Be aware of your hydraulic forces.  Sockets are prone to failure when torqued more than twice the specified amount for assembly. Backup wrenches may not be rated for the torque applied.  Limit torque to the capacity of the weakest tool in the application.  Hytorc® publishes charts on their website which convert pump pressure to torque applied for each of their tools.

Finally, protect your personnel.  No one is to be in contact with the head or backup wrenches after initial clamping pressure is applied and until pressure is released. Determine the potential debris path and keep personnel away from the area. You can also use a piece of plywood or metal as a shield.  Face shielding is recommended as PPE for all personnel near the danger zone.

Remember that Hytorc® equipment is dangerous and must only be operated by trained individuals.  Best practice is to have the same person operate both the tool head and the pump.  When this is not possible, the pump operator must be in sight of the tool operator.  Three way communication must be used between them.

Loss of Lube Oil (Emergency Lube Oil Systems)

The International Association of Engineering Insurers found that the highest frequency of steam turbine failures worldwide is due to loss of oil. To minimize the effects of loss of oil events, all turbines have a backup or emergency oil system; however, checks of these backup systems are too often neglected. Should the backup systems be inoperable during a loss of power incident, the turbine can coast down with insufficient lubrication, causing expensive component failures. These failures can range from a loss of bearing integrity (wiped bearings) to major seal and rotating component damage, and they result in large costs to the turbine owner, not only in the repair of damage done, but in the cost of lost generation time.

Weekly maintenance checks on emergency lube oil systems should include verifying the adequacy of any battery backup system and testing the pressure switches and controllers that activate backup pumps. These tests should be performed to ensure the backup systems are fully functional should a loss of power or lube oil event occur. These simple efforts of prevention are inexpensive compared to the expenditures related to a turbine coming down without sufficient lube oil.

Safety Tips

At TGM, our motto is Safety, Quality, Production . . . In That Order! We currently have:

Zero OSHA Recordable Accidents for 528th Consecutive days!

Safety is Turbine Generator Maintenance’s top priority. TGM puts safety above all other considerations and expects that devotion from every TGM employee. Please see our dedicated Safety section of our website for more information on TGM’s Safety Program.

COMMON SENSE AND ACCIDENT PREVENTION

The experts say at least 80% of industrial accidents are caused by unsafe acts on the part of employees–and not by unsafe conditions. Here are a few actions, paired with safety suggestions:

  • Being in a Hurry – Don’t let the concern for completing a job quickly overshadow safety.
  • Taking Chances – Daring behavior or blatant disregard for safe work practices can put the whole work team at risk.
  • Being Preoccupied – If your mind is troubled or distracted, you’re at risk for an accident.
  • Having A Negative Attitude – Being angry or in a bad mood can lead to severe accidents because anger nearly always rules over caution.
  • Failing To Look For Hidden Hazards – Always be alert for changes in the jobsite environment. Hidden hazards include spilled liquids, out-of-place objects, unmarked floor openings, etc.

Awareness of your environment, self-preservation, and concern for your fellow workers are all factors in good common sense. All workers can prevent themselves from getting hurt.