When working in a manufacturing environment -- particularly a dangerous one like those that use heat in its process -- it is important to make safety second nature. Too often we hear horror stories about unnecessary injuries and even fatalities that are caused simply because those involved were not educated or were careless.
It is important to note that the average of lost-time injuries in 2000* is 6.1 per 100 workers -- the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started compiling this statistic. Since the inception of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., the rate has fallen by about 45 percent.
However, at 6.1 lost-time injuries per 100 workers, there definitely is room for improvement. Did some of that lost time occur at your plant? To habitually practice safety, first you and your coworkers must be educated about the rules, regulations and codes that are set forth by various standards-making bodies.
To help you in your quest for knowledge, I have compiled a list of organizations that includes some highlights about each as well as web site addresses. Although this list does not represent the entire scope of safety-related organizations, it will get you headed in the right educational direction.
OSHA. This governmental body is a good place to start. Its web site (www.osha.gov) offers an interactive search engine that makes it quite easy to find standards. The site also offers more than a handful of news stories and events. The site is updated daily, and if that does not keep you current enough, you also can sign up for its newsletter on the home page.
NFPA. Another great source, especially for the heat processing industry, is the National Fire Protection Asso-ciation (NFPA), Quincy, Mass. Standards such as NFPA 86 Standard for Ovens and Furnaces were written for the safety of your business. Located at www.nfpa.org, the standards can be viewed online if you are a paid subscriber. Other features of NFPA's site include research and reports, professional development and regional news.
IHEA. Industrial Heat Equipment Association's web site (www.ihea.org) offers overviews of the educational seminars and workshops that the organization holds annually. Typically convening in the late spring, the association's annual safety standards seminar focuses on the NFPA 86 standard. It is suggested for anyone involved with the design, manufacture and operation of industrial furnaces and ovens used in all applications of heat processing. Attendees have an opportunity to learn from experts in the field of industrial combustion who are actively involved in the standards making process.
A new offering from the association is a home study course on heat processing technology. It will be an updated and enhanced version of a previous course that was successfully offered in the 1970s and 1980s. It is being developed by the Educational Committee and will be made available as a web-based training course upon completion. No completion date is set.
IHEA's web site also offers a roundtable discussion forum and industry issues and news.
ANSI. American National Standards Institute, Washington, D.C., is a private, nonprofit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Part of its mission is to enhance U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity.
ANSI's web site (www.ansi.org) includes many pages to visit, including standards information, conformity assessment, events, news, a reference library and databases.
Although there are more sources to be had for safety's sake, the above compendium should get you headed in the right direction. Dangers can be minimized if your company and employees follow safety rules. And, remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse!