IHEA safety committee member offers tips.

In last month's column ( January/February 2002, p. 33 ), Ted Jablkowski, P.E., eastern regional manager at Cleveland-based North American Mfg. Co. Ltd., explained the importance of safety training in the heat processing arena. Ted is a principal member of NFPA 86 Technical Committee and a member of Industrial Heating Equipment Association's (IHEA) Safety Standards and Codes Committee.

To demonstrate how important safety training is, Ted cited part of the NFPA 86 Standard for Ovens and Furnaces standard as well as its foreword.

This month, Ted continues his response to my question "Is safety training important?"

TJ:Additional [safety training] requirements are outlined in NPFA 86 Chapter 10, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance, as follows:

10-1 Responsibility of the Manufacturer and of the User

10-1.1 The equipment manufacturer shall inform the user regarding the need for operational checks and maintenance and shall provide complete and clear inspection, testing and maintenance instructions. The final responsibility for establishing an inspection, testing and maintenance program that ensures that the equipment is in working order shall be that of the user.

10-1.2* When the original equipment manufacturer no longer exists, plant personnel shall develop adequate operational checks and maintenance procedures.

10-2* Equipment Entry. The user's operational and maintenance program shall include procedures that apply to entry into equipment in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations.

10-3* Checklist. An operational maintenance checklist shall be maintained and is essential to the safe operation of the equipment.

10-4 Cleaning. Foreign material, parts, and residue shall be removed from recirculation blowers, exhaust blowers, heat exchangers, burner and pilot ports, combustion blowers, ductwork, and equipment interiors. Ductwork shall be checked for obstructions. Cleaning frequency shall be determined by process requirements.

10-5 Tension and Wear. Recirculation and exhaust system blowers that are driven by V-belts shall be checked for belt slippage and excessive belt wear. If slippage is detected, belts shall be adjusted or replaced.

10-6 Flammable Loading. It shall be the user's responsibility to prevent the flammable loading from exceeding the safety ventilation design capacity in accordance with 7-2.2

In these tough times of reduced production, companies can use their extended downtimes to implement safety improvements on their ovens.

PH: When the training budget is cut or eliminated, what complications can arise from unqualified staff attempting to perform these duties?

TJ:At times, we hear of an explosion that occurred following a downturn in business. Equipment that was operated continuously in good times may be shut down for an extended period in tough times. By the time the equipment is required for production again, the most senior and skilled operator may no longer be in the company's employ, and the new staff may not be adequately trained in the required specific sequence of operation needed to attain normal operation. In addition, critical components -- such as lubricated plug valves that haven't had the correct lubrication needed for them to shut off tightly or safety shutoff valves that haven't been closed in years and now won't -- can result in hazards that might have gone unnoticed when an oven is operated continuously.

PH: What should companies do to make it through these tough times?

TJ:Companies can use their extended downtimes to implement safety improvements on their ovens and furnaces and upgrade their training. In good times, companies are sometimes reluctant to interrupt production to provide equipment access time for improvements, and downtime the cost of lost production may add to the overall cost of the upgrade. Companies also can use this to ensure that their inspection, testing and maintenance procedures are in place and up to date.

PH: What do companies need to guard against?

TJ:Companies need to guard against increasing the potential for serious accidents. They need to educate themselves in the most current NFPA standards, implement them and ensure good safety practices. The NFPA standards are reported to be the primary benchmarks used in industrial accident litigation. The unfortunate reality in the United States is that there is little enforcement of the NFPA standards for industrial equipment until after there is an accident.