Senior editor Sharon Spielman explains how the NFPA will help you keep at least one New Year's resolution.

As a responsible manager in a manufacturing facility, there is no doubt you rang in the New Year with a promise to keep plant employees safe and simplify the process to boot. Regular readers of this column know that enforcing standards and codes is essential to plant and personnel safety at manufacturing facilities. The difficult part, of course, is keeping up with the codes.

As you no doubt are aware, NFPA 86-2003 has been published and is available. Upon hearing this news, you may have thought: “Oh, great, another standard.” Do not fret! The code for ovens and furnaces -- the standard most applicable for those who use heat during the manufacturing process -- is now much easier to understand. You may remember having to leaf through three separate standards in the past: NFPA 86 Standard for Ovens and Furnaces, NFPA 86C Standard for Industrial Furnaces Using a Special Processing Atmosphere, and NFPA 86D Standard for Industrial Furnaces Using Vacuum as an Atmosphere. NFPA 86-2003 combines all three into one overall standard that covers all areas.

According to Franklin D. Switzer, president of S-afe Inc., Muncie, Ind., “The NFPA 86-2003 edition represents a consolidation of the three separate standards and a few changes.” One specific change, he notes, is the commonality that now exists between the definitions found in the three older standards. Because there is only one standard, definitions are common to all areas. (See Switzer's guest-written Safety Zone column, Process Heating, November 2003, p. 50, for tables that ease cross-referencing the old standards with the new.)

Sean Caton, marketing director of burner/boiler controls at Honeywell Inc., Golden Valley, Minn., agrees with Switzer. “The harmonization of the separate NFPA 86 codes into one allows for a better understanding of the code and will make it easier to reference the information necessary to make application decisions regarding oven safety. Many end users have different types of ovens and furnaces requiring research into the different codes for answers.”

Caton adds, “From a control manufacturer's standpoint, we are able to have a customer refer to one publication when we are recommending the devices necessary to meet our customers' applications.”

How many of you have been referencing the new standard since its publication in September? Do you find the new standard is easy to follow? What information would you like to see added when it is revised in 2007? Drop me a line to let me know your thoughts. If you have not already ordered NFPA 86-2003, you can do so at www.nfpa.org.