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6:25 pm
June 16, 2017
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Are You a Safety Leader?


All workers should think of themselves as safety leaders and set a good example for others in multiple ways.

Whatever image the word “leadership” might bring to mind, the fact is, it often can be difficult to demonstrate. Sometimes, leadership means going against the flow, when the flow is going in the wrong direction. When it comes to safety, though, anyone on a plant-floor team can be a leader. Everyone should be, even when that means taking what might seem like an uncomfortable stand.

Safety leadership on the plant floor requires real courage, given the many issues that personnel regularly confront. Those issues include, among other things, scheduling problems, cost concerns, and psychological factors such as peer pressure and complacency. The more safety leaders a team has, however, the easier it is for hazards to be identified, action taken, and the safety “flow” turned in the right direction.

Who is a safety leader? According to experts with the Safway Group (, Waukesha, WI), it’s someone who demonstrates that he or she values safety by working and communicating to identify and limit hazardous situations. The key to a true culture of safety, they stress, is for all workers at a site to think of themselves as safety leaders and set an example in that regard, not only through their actions, but by what they say, how they say it, and, just as important, how they listen.

Do you qualify as safety leader? To find out, consider the questions in the following three-part quiz from Safway.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

1. Engagement

Are you engaged during safety meetings? Do you take notes and ask questions if something is unclear? Do you talk about the Job Hazard Analysis process? Are you prepared to stop work at any time if you believe an unsafe condition may exist?

randm2. Teaching, Mentoring, Coaching

Teaching, mentoring, coaching, and conducting safety observations are all excellent ways to promote safety conversations. Do you take time to explain the purpose behind safety procedures? Do you help others understand what cues help you assess a situation for safety? When you observe an opportunity for a safer way, do you communicate and address the issue?

3. Taking Suggestions Seriously

Good listening is essential for safety. It also takes time and effort to do well. Do you try to be open-minded and positive in response to other people’s safety suggestions? How about your body language? Do you give off a vibe of being open and engaged, and grateful for the feedback? Do you provide a meaningful response quickly, regardless of the outcome of the suggestion? All suggestions deserve positive feedback. It’s the building block of trust and openness, and, in the end, improvement.

Commit to safety

Most plant-floor personnel probably can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions every minute of every day. But when they make a conscious goal to be safety leaders, they’re well on their way to ensuring that they, their coworkers, and others are able to go home safely to their families every day. MT

For more information on access and multi-service issues and solutions, visit


7:20 pm
October 10, 2016
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Are Your Electricians Safety-Trained?

OSHA and NFPA provide the guidelines, but our survey suggests there is still some room for electrical-safety training improvement.

OSHA and NFPA provide the guidelines, but our survey suggests there is still some room for electrical-safety training improvement.

randmWhen electrical systems are in question, anyone would be hard pressed to support any compromise in safety should maintenance work be required. To develop a picture of electrical safety in the manufacturing arena, we surveyed the readers of Maintenance Technology to determine their knowledge of electrical-system events/activities in their facilities. More than 230 professionals took time to respond. The survey results are presented below.

While the responses were overwhelmingly positive in terms of system knowledge and safety, there were enough of the “other” responses to suggest some element of training, either initial or ongoing, is in order. According to the electrical-training experts at AVO Institute, Dallas (, compliance with OSHA and NFPA 70E regulations is not optional. In addition, NFPA 70E stipulates that retraining, not refresher courses, must occur every three years.

Ask your team members to take the same survey. Your results will tell you whether training needs are immediate or if you’ve been doing your job well and additional training can be scheduled down the road. MT
—Gary L. Parr, editorial director








1:38 pm
September 19, 2016
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Prayer and Safety


By Gary L. Parr, Editorial Director

Most of my adult life I’ve been involved in one church committee/organization or another. For a good number of years I was chairman of the congregation. Anyone who has done this type of work knows that, more than anything, it involves an endless parade of meetings. Actually, more meetings than work. If you’ve been similarly involved, you also know that every meeting begins and ends with a prayer.

I’ve conducted so many meetings through the years that the practice of beginning and ending with a prayer has become so ingrained that I get a strange feeling when any non-church meeting doesn’t begin with a bowing of the heads. I get over it, but there is always that moment at the beginning of a business meeting in which I feel compelled to lead a prayer. Of course, any clerical person would applaud this and say that any gathering should begin and end with prayer. But it doesn’t work that way in the business world, so I let the moment pass.

I thought this engrained habit was just a weird church/Jesus thing until I attended my first Maintenance Excellence Roundtable conference a couple of months ago. No, they didn’t start each day with a prayer. But they did start with the thing that’s ingrained in their psyches—a safety moment.

It really caught me off guard, but I immediately saw the value for us in a conference room as we took a moment to cover obvious things such as exits, fire extinguishers, and potentially dangerous electrical cord placement. As a result, whenever I sit down for a meeting/event in an unfamiliar room, I find myself conducting my own safety moment by looking for exits, extinguishers, and possible exit choke points. That’s not something I ever did before encountering the MER people.

Post this photo on your bulletin board to remind workers why safety glasses are a must. You also might share it with visitors when they take a lackadaisical approach to wearing personal-protection equipment.

Post this photo on your bulletin board to remind workers why safety glasses are a must. You also might share it with visitors when they take a lackadaisical approach to wearing personal-protection equipment.

The brief discussions also made me appreciate the value of making safety the first thing that’s talked about in any plant gathering. Starting meetings with a safety discussion constantly drives home the message that safety is the top priority, no matter what people have gathered to discuss.

It’s so ingrained in the members of the MER organization that each MER Board of Directors telephone conference call starts with a safety item. Yes, it’s part of a telephone meeting in which everyone is in a different location. It’s usually a telling of a positive or negative safety event that someone has experienced. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it’s always there and always first.

The most recent story was about a person who was using a cutting tool and a piece of the blade broke off and inserted in his safety glasses. If the photo doesn’t inject in you a full appreciation for safety glasses, nothing will. In the safety discussion it also raised the question about whether, in these situations, a full face guard isn’t a better choice. Regardless, safety glasses will be on my face whenever I use power tools at home.

While I’ve always appreciated the importance of safety in industrial settings, the MER members have taught me that it’s much more than some set of rules everyone follows. To be effective, it has to become second nature to everyone, but first on that list of second-nature things.

To do our part, we provide you with four safety-related articles this month, beginning on p. 20. While reading those articles won’t change your safety culture, they’ll likely serve as either a starting point or a refresher. The real work is on your end.

I would suggest that, if safety isn’t ingrained in everything everyone does at your company, it’s not too tough to start by requiring that a safety moment be first on every meeting agenda. The only exception to that policy would be at church where we’re going to continue to start with a prayer. MT


2:36 pm
May 16, 2016
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RasGas Pumps Up Production

Setting the pace for the global LNG industry involves many things, including working with experts who deliver solutions that ensure process safety, reliability, and efficiency.

Drilling for natural gas is only the start in getting it to market. It must be super-chilled into liquefied form (LNG) for export. For Qatar’s RasGas Co. Ltd., that chilling takes place onshore, in a processing plant called a “train,” far away from offshore wellheads. One of the world’s leading integrated LNG enterprises, RasGas has seven of these trains, including two of the largest on the planet.

Setting the pace for the global LNG industry involves many things, including working with experts who deliver solutions that ensure process safety, reliability, and efficiency.

Continue Reading →


8:07 pm
August 6, 2015
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Step Up to Greater Electrical Awareness

Arc-flash power is demonstrated in a controlled setting. The event vaporizes metal, enormously expanding its volume and instantly producing temperatures of 35,000 F or higher. Photo courtesy AVO Training Institute.

Arc-flash power is demonstrated in a controlled setting. The event vaporizes metal, enormously expanding its volume and instantly producing temperatures of 35,000 F or higher. Photo courtesy AVO Training Institute.

The 2015 changes to the NFPA 70E electrical-safety standard include new perspectives on maintenance, use of PPE, and terminology—all of which could have an impact on your operation.

By Rick Carter, Executive Editor 

Electrical-safety standards turn up regularly on OSHA’s Top 10 List of “Most Frequently Cited” violations each year. On the current list, dated October 2014, electrical standards hold three of the 10 positions:

  • #6 — Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)
  • #8 — Electrical, Wiring Methods (1910.305)
  • #10 — Electrical, General Requirements (1910.303)

Go back one or several years and you’ll see much the same lineup; only the order changes slightly (though the Fall Protection standard, 1926.501, often leads). To many, this bewildering repetition of rule breaking is akin to failing an open-book test when all questions and answers are fully provided beforehand. How does it happen?

OSHA outlines its violations online at, but these terse reports do not address causes. Rather, they highlight the hazard violation: unexpected energization, working near live equipment without training, exposure to electrical shock hazards, and unguarded parts of live electrical equipment. These alone encompass a “who’s who” of what can go wrong in a plant when the focus on safety wavers. They also paint a disturbing picture of the poor safety condition in which plants can sometimes find themselves.

Standard rules, inconsistent adherence

“It really depends on the facility,” said Tim Rohrer, president of Exiscan LLC, a New York-based manufacturer of inspection windows for electrical equipment. “Some are right on the edge of electrically safe work practices and others are woefully behind.”

Rohrer spoke with Maintenance Technology following his presentation on the 2015 changes to the NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace at a recent industry conference. The changes to this go-to standard (outlined in detail last month in Maintenance Technology), represent the latest industry effort to clarify electrical-safety procedures and help make industrial operations safer.

Rohrer suggested that the updating process, in which he participates, can seem like an uphill battle in some cases. “Sadly, some of those companies that are way behind might think they’re complying with 70E,” he said, “but they don’t even own a copy of the standard. In many cases they are just going off of bits and pieces they’ve picked up along the way.” This can lead to multiple electrical-safety shortcomings in key areas, such as failure to use personal protective equipment (PPE), allowing work to be done on energized equipment, and others, as OSHA’s list confirms.

Updated every three years through a four-step process that includes significant public input and review, NFPA 70E now features a greater emphasis on the role maintenance plays in the safe operating condition of electrical equipment. “Maintenance is now front and center,” said Rohrer. “It always has been, but it is more so in the latest revision; it’s referred to more often and more pointedly. For example, when a worker goes up to the equipment, they really have to bear in mind the condition and maintenance of the equipment they’ll be working on. This is pretty huge.”

NFPA 70E 2015, Article 200 states that the equipment owner is responsible for the maintenance of its electrical equipment and documentation of same. This clarification—a responsibility that might have been assumed before—is now spelled out. It reflects one goal of the changes and revisions, which is to leave less chance for either willful or accidental misinterpretation. According to Article 210.5, maintenance is now a focus because “improper maintenance of protective devices can result in increased clearing times, which thereby results in higher incident energy.”

Because of the added emphasis on the condition and maintenance of equipment, it’s Rohrer’s opinion that “if there is an accident and OSHA comes on site, and they decide a person was injured because the equipment was improperly maintained—which is stated pretty clearly in several different ways—this becomes something OSHA can start to look at.” So, whether other causes are ultimately determined to have caused an electrical accident or not, your maintenance procedures may be reviewed anyway, with deficiencies noted and, if necessary, your company fined accordingly. (For the record, OSHA does not have a direct role in creating 70E language, but does provide input through a voting member on the 70E Technical Committee.)

What kind of maintenance are we talking about? It encompasses several areas, from proper labeling and inspection procedures to testing and/or installation procedures for at least the following components:

  • Circuit breakers
  • Fuses
  • Protective relays
  • Substations, switchgear assemblies, panel boards, motor control centers, disconnect switches
  • Transfer switches and control equipment
  • Motors and generators
  • Equipment in hazardous locations
  • Batteries and battery rooms
  • Portable electric tools and equipment
  • Personal safety and protective equipment, including electrical gloves, hot sticks, and flash suits.
While use of proper personal protective equipment is required for working on electrical equipment, other steps—especially hazard elimination—must be considered for maximum protection. Photo courtesy Oberon Co.

While use of proper personal protective equipment is required for working on electrical equipment, other steps—especially hazard elimination—must be considered for maximum protection. Photo courtesy Oberon Co.

The safety goal

Preventing electrical accidents generally means taking the steps necessary to protect workers from shock and to prevent arc flash, the damaging explosion that can occur when high energy meets low resistance. If you’ve never seen what an arc flash looks like, several examples are available for viewing online. Watching just one can give you the best reason yet to ensure your plant’s electrical-safety program is everything it should be, which is also a goal of NFPA 70E 2015.

Interestingly, along with 70E’s added maintenance emphasis is another change that involves the use of personal protective equipment with regard to arc flash. “In the 2015 edition, arc-flash PPE is not required for normal operation of equipment if equipment is properly installed and maintained, all doors and covers are secure, and there is no evidence of impending failure,” said Daleep Mohla, principal consultant with Missouri City, TX-based DCM Electrical Consulting Services Inc.

A longtime contributor to IEEE (Institute of Electric and Electronics Engineers) Standards Association Working Groups, and considered an expert on 70E, Mohla currently specializes in 70E training.

Mohla added that “70E also made a major strategy shift in its new approach to electrical-hazard mitigation. Until the 2012 edition, mitigation was based on hazard. In 2015, mitigation is based on risk and risk assessment. It requires stakeholder evaluation and recognition of possible consequences to decide on the acceptable risk and mitigation.”

According to Rohrer, it’s important to know the difference between “hazard” and “risk.” While a hazard is considered “a source of possible injury or damage to health,” he said, the more broadly defined risk “refers to a combination of both the likelihood of injury occurrence and the severity.”

To that end Rohrer suggested that companies and employees consider the hierarchy of risk-control methods (as it appears in ANSI/AIHA Z10 and in NFPA 70E), noting that the most effective controls are featured at the top:

  • Hazard elimination
  • Substitution
  • Engineering controls
  • Warnings
  • Administrative controls
  • PPE

In this hierarchy, the most valuable action a plant can take—hazard elimination—means de-energization of the equipment. “It’s epidemic that companies are working on energized equipment when they could be shutting down,” said Rohrer. “Whether they’re using PPE or not, the first real prime directive of 70E and any electrical-safety standard is to de-energize whenever possible.”

Electrical-safety programs at world-class operations, he said, routinely prohibit working on energized equipment unless other options don’t exist. “Companies on the leading edge of electrically safe work practices have a policy of not working live,” said Rohrer. “They simply don’t work energized. The first thing they do is de-energize. Yes, there are instances where something absolutely has to be done energized. Certain diagnostics, for example, need to be done while the gear is energized. But, aside from that, they’re de-energizing.”

To be clear, said Rohrer, even after the power to equipment is shut off, “the equipment is still considered energized until you prove it otherwise. So you still have to use your PPE and go in and do a visual inspection, apply your lockout/tagout devices, and then use your meter to prove that it has, in fact, been de-energized. Then you have to lock it out and tag it out.” But he believes that choosing to de-energize is a critical first step in assuring electrical safety.

Naturally, seeking this high level of safety can cause problems when the need to de-energize equipment or shut down lines conflicts with operations’ need to keep things running. This is where planning and scheduling becomes vital. Coordinating shutdowns not only simplifies the process of completing electrical work, it helps avoid the debate that can crop up over the need to de-energize in the first place, a situation that can lead to confusion over standards and poor safety practices.

“There is an infeasibility clause that states you can work on energized gear if it’s infeasible to do the work de-energized,” said Rohrer. “But shutting down a line so you can safely perform work is not infeasible, it’s inconvenient, and a lot of plants mistake the two. They often claim that it’s infeasible to shut down this line to do that work, when, in fact, it’s not. Infeasible means it can’t be done any other way,” Rohrer concluded.

With electrical-related hazards, violations, and injuries showing no sign of letting up, standards groups—and OSHA—are devoting more time and effort to the promotion and enforcement of electrical safety. To keep your operation safe and up to date, ensure that your maintenance team is familiar with key information sources such as,,, and Also make sure that electrical contractors and outside service providers understand how 70E and other key electrical-safety rules fit in with your operation’s exact needs.  MT

Best Practices For Complying With NFPA 70E

  • Design inherently safe work practices
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Arc-flash risk assessment
  • Labeling and hazard communication plan
  • Design and methods review
  • Accurate single-line diagrams
  • Short-circuit and coordination studies
  • Electrical-safety program review and development
  • Arc-flash training program and PPE plan development
  • Documentation
  • Periodic reviews.

Source: Emerson Network Power, Electrical Reliability Services; Exiscan LLC, 2015.