Get Ready for Winter Work with Steiner

Winter is right around the corner and when the snow starts accumulating and the temperature starts to fall, the season of ice, snow and cold can turn a workplace into a survival of the fittest.

If you or your employees work in the field or in any location where winter weather presents safety concerns, you may wish to take some precautions. Steiner Electric and some of its vendors can help. A Winter Workplace Safety Counter Day has been scheduled to run at our Rockford branch on Oct. 31, from 11am-1pm.

The event will bring vendors of personal protection equipment, heating technology, lighting and lighting controls. Because equipment can also be at risk, technology on display will showcase portable testing equipment that can capture test data and have the information delivered to anyplace around the world.

Keep covered

Winter-related slips and falls, frostbite, hypothermia and more can result in time off work, temporary employee costs, overtime for existing employees, and increased insurance costs.

When it comes to personal protection, the head, ears and noses are among the extremities that get cold the fastest and must be protected.

Protective Industrial Products (PIP) will showcase a selection of gloves, head gear, and liners that helps protect workers. Headware includes 2-layer cotton models with mouthpiece, insulated ear barriers, and which have been FR (flame resistant) treated. They come in mid lengths and shoulder lengths.

For its gloves and sleeves, PIP uses Dyneema® and DuPont® advanced fibers as well as other proprietary engineered yarn blends and coatings to meet ANSI and EN standards. Breathable cut resistant gloves allow for dexterous work with wires and other components. Some versions can be used for dry and light-oil applications, and offer good grip and excellent abrasion resistance.

PIP air-assisted heat packs.

PIP will also feature air-activated hand warmers. The Heat Pack Mini Hand Warmers, which uses oxidation from the interaction of iron powder, activated carbon and water when it is exposed to air, provides 8 hours of warmth. It can be activated and reach full temperature in 2-5 minutes. Heating can be suspended at any time by resealing the inserts in an airtight container.

Freeze protection

Frozen pipes can be an aggravating experience for maintenance workers no matter the location.

Pentair’s Raychem self regulated cable.

Pentair’s Raychem products on display include self-regulating trace heating cables that are used for frost protection of pipes, temperature maintenance of process fluids, tank heating, and other applications.

The self-regulating heating cables automatically adjusts its power output to compensate for temperature changes. According to a Pentair video explaining the process, a protective core surrounds two parallel conductors. As the ambient temperature drops, the core contracts microscopically and the number of electrical paths increase and generates heat. Conversely, as the temperatures increases, the core expands and the number of paths decrease.

Pentair will showcase its Raychem QuickNet and Nuheat floor-heating systems.  These products are for installation under tile, granite, marble, stone, laminate and engineered wood flooring.

Also on display is the T2Red electric underfloor heating cable that the company says is ideal for temperature sensitive floors such as wood, laminate as well as for natural stone, and ceramic tiles. The self regulating cable can be cut-to-length on site, and can be overlapped or narrow spaced without danger of overheating, the company says.

Illuminating in the cold weather

Cold weather can also play havoc with lighting, especially fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting.

On display in Rockford will be a series of lamps and ballasts that work well in the cold. In addition to the lamps, some of the latest in lighting-control technology will be on display.

For those looking to replace lighting technology that works well in outdoor cold temperatures, then LED might be the answer as they tend to work better in this environment. Cold weather helps the LED stay cool.

RAB LED wallpack.

RAB will display wall packs and area lighting. Models on display include the RAB HPS Wall Packs for wide light distribution that feature a die-formed aluminum reflector and a prismatic polycarbonate refractor. Metal halide RAB Wall Packs feature symmetrical light patterns to maximize lighting distances between fixtures, while the prismatic optics minimize glare. For security and energy efficiency, RAB will showcase CFL motion controlled Wall Packs that are fully adjustable for 24-hour operation and feature custom applications.

In low-temperature environments such as refrigerated areas, fluorescent lamps can experience adverse performance problems such as “fluttering,” reduced light output and difficulty starting by a traditional ballast.

Philips’s Advance ballast.

Cold weather ballasts from Philips can start the fluorescent lamps at temperatures expected to be below 50°F. Cold weather electronic and magnetic ballasts can be specified for lamps that can start them at temperatures as low as -20°F.

Philips will also be showcasing some of its vast range of LED products.

 

Maintaining machines in the field

Since its 2014 introduction, Fluke Corp.’s Connect technology has won awards from trade show judges, such as the AHR Expo, and from many trade magazine award competitions (EDN, Control Engineering).

The technology allows data collected from a growing number of the company’s handheld instruments such as its multimeters, infrared thermometers, and AC/DC current meters, to be shared via Smartphones to anywhere in the world.

Thermal imager with Fluke Connect.

Fluke Connect Assets is a cloud-based wireless system of software and test tools that gives maintenance managers a comprehensive view of all critical equipment — including baseline, historical, and current test tool measurement data, current status, and past inspection data — enabling them to set up and sustain a preventive maintenance or condition-based maintenance system easily with minimal investment.

 

Guide to Workplace Safety with Personal Protective Equipment

Worker safety is an important responsibility for employers – needing to implement specific procedures to prevent injury. Some procedures are as simple as a rule prohibiting employees from walking through construction zones without goggles, vests or other personal protective equipment. This article will cover safety gear designed to be worn, such as hard hats, vision protection, hearing protection and more. Future posts in this workplace safety series will cover other types of safety equipment.

Hard Hats

Hard hats protect from falling objects, debris and electric shock. Those in the construction industry typically require the use of hard hats and other personal protective equipment (or PPE). The suspension bands that are present in hard hats allow for a spreading of the helmet’s weight and the force of any impact over the top of the head.

Hard hats should be replaced once they show signs of damage (dents, cracks, penetration, or fatigue due to rough treatment). It is important to inspect hard hats for damage and signs of fatigue each time they are used. Aside from visual inspections, another way to test a hard hat is to grasp it in two hands and apply force by squeezing the hat. If you hear creaking or other unusual sounds, it is time to replace the hard hat.

While OSHA has no specific provision for an expiration date, manufacturers are allowed to determine if their equipment expires on a specific calendar date. A generally accepted rule is to replace the support strap yearly and to replace the hard hat every five years. Harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures can make a hard hat degrade more quickly. Be sure to check with the manufacturer for guidelines on hard hat replacement and maintenance.

A hard hat may also expire if OSHA adopts more rigorous requirements. It is essential to regularly check OSHA standards for changes that may require your PPE to be updated.

Eye Protection

Construction sites, factories and office parks are all examples of workplaces where employees and patrons can be susceptible to eye injury, which is why it is important to prepare and prevent any such accident with safety glasses. In fact, an estimated 90% of workplace injuries could be avoided with the proper use of safety eyewear.

Safety goggles and safety glasses provide an effective way to protect eyes against any workplace eye injury. For instance, in a construction site, workers may experience dust, particles and tools that could pose as risks causing potential eye injuries.goggle

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to make sure their workers have proper eye protection. Most workplace eye injuries are preventable, which is why it is imperative that employers invest in eye protection equipment for their workers.

Ear Protection

Another issue that is common in the construction industry is the possibility for loss of hearing. Loud noise is frequent, and like the eyes, the ears need to be protected as well. Drills, power tools, machines, trucks and heavy equipment are just some of the many things found at any given construction site that can cause damage to hearing, and that is why there are many options for ear protection.

ear

Loud noise can cause permanent damage to hearing or hearing loss. Hearing aids, as well as surgery may not be able to correct hearing loss, which is why it is essential to provide preventative hearing loss equipment. Loud noises can also reduce productivity in addition to contributing to workplace accidents, since loud noises make it difficult to hear others communicating, leading to social isolation.

There are several options to combat hearing loss readily available – from ear plugs to hearing protectors. Damage can occur within the ear at noise levels similar to a lawn mower for eight hours. At first it can cause a temporary hearing loss, lasting for up to 14 hours. Repeated exposure to high noise levels can be common at construction sites, which means that hearing may not recover fully.

Hand Protection

Safety gloves are another important piece of personal protective equipment. In many instances, construction sites might deal with sharp edges, dangerous chemicals, dust or flying sparks. Because there are different types of gloves for hand protection, there are many factors to be considered when deciding on a type of glove, for instance:

  • The type of chemicals handled
  • Grip requirements
  • Size and Comfort of Glove
  • Abrasion resistance of Glove

gloves

After the appropriate type of glove is selected for the intended job application, the gloves should be inspected for any tear or puncture before each use. Gloves can be tested for cuts or holes by simply filling them with water and checking for leaks. Any gloves that are discolored may also need review, as they may be the result of overexposure to chemicals – in which case, the gloves would need to be discarded and replaced.

Reflective Wear

The last important piece of personal safety protection covered in this article includes reflective vests or shirts. Reflective vests provide increased visibility of workers, enabling drivers or other employees to see them in low light conditions, ultimately decreasing the chance for injury. One of the primary reasons this is an effective deterrent for workplace injury is that it is especially useful for darker environments – which can range from working indoors during power outages or outside at night – and now that fall is inching closer, the sun will be setting earlier, which means less daylight hours. Reflective safety vests should be visible from a good distance. These vests primarily help prevent collisions or vehicular-related injury.

vestSafety is a concern for all employers, and there are several things that can be done to prevent injuries or workplace accidents. Many accidents can be prevented with the right type of PPE. Find the right safety equipment or contact Steiner at 1-800-STEINER (783-4637) for more information.

 

How To Use Social Media to Benefit Your Company

June 30th is Social Media Day. In honor of the special occasion we will reflect on some interesting and successful social campaigns being implemented across popular social channels by three different brands. The following campaigns provide great examples of effective uses of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) any company can beneficially emulate to drive customer engagement.

CARHARTT 

Carhartt has campaigns across Facebook and Twitter that allow interactivity for fans and followers – for example, hashtag contests like #OutWorkThemAll encourage users to share photos of themselves working on tough projects while wearing Carhartt gear.

carhartoutworkthemall

Carhartt engineers consistency across Twitter and Facebook, with many similar campaign attributes being utilized in both networks. Hashtag campaigns like #OutWorkThemAll thrive cross-network, sharing photos of customers and products, providing Carhartt with a cost-effective grassroots promotional product campaign.

Carhartt also actively posts several videos and playlists on YouTube – one of which is the helpful “Do-It-Yourself” series of videos. These instructional videos provide customers with an easy guide of how to use products or how to complete tasks. They help answer customers’ questions giving Carhartt a practical extension to their customer service operations.

diy carhartt

KOHLER

Kohler too promotes their individual campaigns across multiple social media networks. For instance, the #HurricaneStrong campaign is run across Twitter and Facebook. This hashtag campaign is dedicated to preparing for power outages caused by Hurricane storms.

hurricaneprep

Kohler also tweets about timely events, tying into their brand. For instance, how they partnered with another company to help with the Flint Water Crisis. An organization or brand that posts content in relation to current events allows followers on social media to see real-world examples of how brands can affect or have a positive impact in responding to a current crisis.

Kohler additionally provides up-to-date information on details from trade shows and other events that they attend. This allows users to find an event they may be interested in attending to learn more about industry-related topics pertinent to their business.

flint

Kohler further has an active YouTube channel used to showcase their products and technology. From videos on the manufacturing of Kohler Generators to the importance of backup power generators for both homes and businesses, there are several reasons for users to view the Kohler YouTube channel.

Audiences can find value in Kohler videos for a multitude of reasons – perhaps they want to see a step-by-step guided process or learn how to undertake a task. Some videos can help teach processes, while other videos may show future technology and upcoming product releases, providing sneak previews of next generation innovations.


PHILIPS LIGHTING

Photos of Philips lights and lamps used for illuminating the exterior of buildings around the world are displayed on Twitter. Philips’ Twitter account shares colorful lighting photos that showcase the latest innovations from the lighting industry. Philips also shares articles from magazines, promoting stories that feature Philips products and services. Sharing these publications gives Philips positive recognition from third-party trusted sources.

Philips Lighting’s Facebook page contains contests, such as a chance to win Philips and Star Wars lights by simply telling them what makes your child a Star Wars fan. Philips also shares images of LED lights in use, such as in the Amsterdam Arena. Similar to Kohler, Philips utilizes current events to advantageously position their brand.

philips facebook led

facebook philips

With several videos, from “How To” demonstrations to featured products, there are numerous choices available for viewing on the Philips YouTube channel. The “How To” videos provide guidance, while the featured products showcase the range of innovative products that Philips Lighting offers.

As a worldwide company Philips also localizes their videos by translating them into several languages catering to the copious local markets they serve, which means you’ll find many Philips videos offered in multiple languages.

Philips additionally shares invitations for seminars and webinars through LinkedIn, encouraging more participation from readers and followers. The free seminars offer pertinent information on relevant and timely industry topics providing continuing education on practical applications of the latest trends.

Posting a variety of useful and timely content on social media networks – from current event related information on community outreach initiatives – to featuring new products – to event invitations – to contests – provides information that is helpful and engaging to your target audience. Having customers continually return to engage with your brand underscores the importance of utilizing social media to capture mindshare that ultimately leads to market share.

Additionally, another benefit of being active on social media is interaction – not only with customers but with other companies that are also present and active on social media. This allows for the potential of cross-promoting each other to audiences, sharing to each customer base, as well as creating the opportunity for building a working relationship between the two (or more) interacting companies.

There are countless strategies and uses for social media that any company can benefit in, but even simply being active and maintaining a presence online (answering customer feedback or questions) is advantageous to any brand. In this digital age, more customers and prospective customers flock to the internet to learn more about a company, or to just find a brand for their particular interest or need, therefore it is absolutely essential to be ready and represented online.

Machine Safety and the Integration of Pneumatic Technology

Why do we need Safety Standards? For years, standards and safety have been developed and adjusted as time went on. Everyone at some point is careless, complacent, overconfident, distracted or fatigued. We sometimes take risks or misunderstand things. Because all of these human traits are ingrained in all of us, we need to make sure machines are safe and ready for use – which means we also need to consider processes which govern how we utilize machines in order to prevent accidents and injury.[i]

With the increasing use of automation, the requirements governing protection of machinery have changed and evolved. Technology advancements have allowed for the integration of protection devices into the work process, thus improving safety and productivity.

Safety is a basic need – the objective for safety equipment  and safety standards is to provide the machine operator, personnel and others a safe environment when working with machinery. Managers are responsible for the safety of their employees. Most accidents are due to human error, which is why safety procedures need to start at the executive level and be adopted throughout the entire organization.[i]

In this article we’ll cover safety functions of Pneumatic technology, as covered by ASCO at Steiner’s 2016 Automation Technology Summer Symposium.

Risk Assessment

The first steps are taken by the machine operator and OEM to analyze the possible risks that are associated with the design of a machine. The risk assessment and analysis gives information that is required for the risk evaluation. This allows the operator or OEM to determine ultimately whether or not a risk reduction is required.[ii]

The process of risk reduction allows for the OEM to eliminate the potential risk that is found in the assessment. If the areas of risk cannot be eliminated, they are to be addressed with safety-related components.

A risk graph provides guidance when looking at the safety risk and safety function. The graph should be considered for each Safety Function identified as part of the risk assessment and risk reduction process.

Risk Graph
Risk Graph

Safety System Architectures and Categories

There are three architectures of elements – The Input Element, the Logic element and the Output element. The Input element includes Gate Switches and Light Curtains; the Logic element includes Safety PLC and Safety Relays and the Output element includes valves and motors.[ii]

There are four categories – Category 1, Category 2, Category 3 and Category 4. Category 1 systems rely on reliability data of components or well-tried components. With Category 1 there is no diagnostic monitoring.

Category 2 systems rely on Category 1 data plus feedback monitoring and periodic testing of safety functions. Category 3 systems rely on Category 2 data plus redundancy. In Category 3 safety systems, most faults are detected. Category 4 systems rely on Category 3 data plus greater diagnostic monitoring – in which all faults are detected.[ii]

Safety System Categories
Safety System Categories

Methods of Pneumatic Implementation

There are three main methods of satisfying a pneumatic Safety Function, including: Discrete components, Point-of-use “Dump” style units, and Manifolds with integrated Safety Functionality.[ii]

Discrete components have individual valves and pressure switches. Switches are limited to a single motion and can be used for multiple motion elements or actuators. These discrete components can be adapted to various pneumatic safety functions. Discrete pneumatic components are best used on single axis or individual motion elements in order to satisfy a pneumatic safety function. The pneumatic components are considered Safety Related Parts of a Control System.

Point of use “Dump” style units are individual assemblies that are made of redundant units to provide safe release of energy in the form of air. These are best used on Lock-Out Tag-Out (LOTO) applications. These type of units can be used to release or “Dump” the pneumatic energy to a gated machine in most instances.[ii]

Finally, manifolds with integrated safety functionality are manifolds that have the ability to satisfy many pneumatic safety functions while providing that function for multiple motion elements, or actuators. These Manifolds are best applied for the following:

  • Multiple axis of motion (actuators)
  • Requires Safe and Non-Safe Valves or motion
  • Requires additional pneumatic features such as regulation, speed control or circuit manipulation
  • Requires different safety functions on the same manifold
  • Requires a Fieldbus interface

Further Considerations

  • Safety functions are defined by the Risk Assessment or Reduction Process.
  • Machine Safety is a systematic approach
  • A Pneumatic safety function doesn’t always need to trap energy – there is a safe stopping of motion and a safe return to the home position
  • Indirect monitoring or pressure sensing, can provide the highest level of direct current

Protective devices should be integrated into the control system. Control systems are made of input elements, logic units and power control elements in addition to the actuator or work element. Safety-related parts of the control system should safely perform normal functions. Because of this, special requirements are placed on their reliability and resistance to failures. Safety standards and devices allow for an increase in the attempt to prevent injury. Because all humans can be careless, forgetful or distracted, it is important to implement and follow standards and procedures.

For more information on automation safety and to speak with one of our application engineers please call 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).

[i] Guidelines for Safe Machinery – Six Steps to a Safe Machine. N.p.: SICK Sensor Intelligence, n.d. PDF.

[ii] Machine Safety and the Integration of Pneumatic Technology. N.p.: ASCO Emerson, 2016. PPT.

National Fall Prevention Stand-Down

May 2 – May 6, 2016 is National Fall Prevention Stand-Down week.

National Safety Stand-Down Week

OSHA’s National Fall Prevention Stand-Down campaign raises awareness to prevent fall hazards in construction. To ensure the safety of workers and help prevent accidents companies can start by implementing the following three steps:

  1. Plan ahead to get the job done safely
  2. Provide the right safety equipment
  3. Train everyone on how to use equipment properly

Employers who participate in National Fall Prevention Stand-Down Week can receive a Certificate of Participation signed by the Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez. The downloadable certificate will be made available beginning May 2, 2016 on the OSHA National Fall Prevention Stand-Down certificate page.

Who is eligible to participate? As stated by OSHA, the following groups are eligible:

Commercial construction companies of any size, residential construction contractors, subcontractors, independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, worker interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Safety Stand-Down

Employers can provide Safety Stand-Downs to their employees during the week. A “Safety Stand-Down” is a voluntary session that gives employers the opportunity to directly address safety with its employees focusing on fall hazards and fall prevention. Safety Stand-Downs can include:

  1. Planned toolbox talks or other safety activities
  2. Breaks to talk about how to prevent falls
  3. Formal safety training for all workers

The first step in fall prevention safety is to talk about it – when there is a clear understanding of proper protocols and procedures that provide the most safety, there is a decrease in accidents.

Following the initial discussion, the next preventative measure is to make sure employees have proper safety equipment for fall prevention. PPE, or personal protective equipment, better equipped for fall hazards include fall protection lanyards and pulling grips.

Finally, in addition to providing the necessary safety supplies make sure employees are properly trained on how to use all equipment. Improper use of safety equipment can also lead to accidents that could have been avoided with sufficient training.

For more information on OSHA’s fall prevention safety campaign, be sure to visit https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/ and learn more.

Use National Fall Prevention Stand-Down Week as an opportunity to review safety, reinforce safety protocols and preventative measures, and maintain appropriate inventory levels of safety products.

Employers who participate in National Fall Prevention Stand-Down Week can give feedback directly to OHSA about their Stand-Down program by sending an email.

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Before Their Shift Begins, Hug A Janitor!

In honor of National Custodian Worker’s Day on October 2, take a moment to appreciate the people who take care of the spaces around you. After all, even a city can be brought to its knees without efficient sanitation workers. They are as crucial as first responders to ensuring a livable city. The custodians who take care of building interiors and grounds are just as important. Our environments, large and small, will become intolerable rather quickly without regular maintenance.

janitorial-cleaning-supplies-big

 

janitorial-cleaning-supplies Continue reading “Before Their Shift Begins, Hug A Janitor!”

Safety Gear and Safety Training are Easy Investments

A safe working environment demands attention to detail. That’s true inside the factory and its true out in the field. Personal safety gear coupled with a complete understanding of best practices are the foundations of a safe working environment. Yet, while the climate-controlled industrial environment requires a broad array of protection supplies, the hazards underneath a roof are reasonably predictable. Continue reading “Safety Gear and Safety Training are Easy Investments”