life safety

CNC & Machine Tool Fire Protection

The number of CNC machines throughout the world has grown dramatically as they have become established as state-of-the-art equipment for milling, drilling, grinding, tapping, honing, turning and other operations critical to manufacturing. These machines can cost up to $200,000 each, and are designed to run 24/7 in a demanding, often grueling work environment.

Fires in CNC machines are commonplace. Using oil-based coolants, typically combustible petroleum or mineral oil, flash fires are reported as a “fireball” when oil mist is ignited.

Machine fires can be catastrophic for the operator, cause expensive down time, costly repairs, possible human injury, and damage to the plant and equipment. Fire protection of CNC and other machine tools is critically important. While sprinklers are often required by insurance, they will only control the spread of a fire throughout a plant.

Stat-X generators are a compact, economical and reliable fire extinguishing solution for protecting the CNC machine and operator. A Stat-X unit consists of an extremely rugged, sealed, stainless steel canister containing a stable, solid compound. The canister is durable and non-pressurized, and is designed to withstand the harshest environments.

Stat-X units are available either as electrically activated units, integrated with a variety of fire detection systems, or as manually activated units with a cable-pull action. They are available in several sizes, adaptable to a great variation of applications.

Typical CNC and machine tool installations include a single Stat-X aerosol generator installed with a linear heat fire detection system, an interface with the machine’s emergency shutdown system, and a release control panel. The simplicity of the system results in an extremely robust and versatile fire suppression system for the machine shop owner. Retrofitting into CNC machines is fast and easy, and requires minimum installation time.

In the event of a fire, Stat-X units automatically release ultra-fine particles and propellant inert gases, which quickly and effectively extinguish fires without depleting the oxygen levels and with no negative impact on the environment.

The Stat-X unit is designed to extinguish the fire in seconds, often even before an operator has time to react, and to put out the fire, enabling production to resume within an hour. Stat-X fire suppression systems are being used by hundreds of tools used by machine, and tool and die shops throughout the world. This is a proven solution that can save you downtime, costly repairs, and greatly reduce the risk of human injury.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Stat-X for First Responders

What is Stat-X?

The Stat-X compound is the most effective fire-extinguishing agent currently available – many times more effective than conventional agents by mass. The Stat-X First Responder contains the same compound used in the fixed Stat-X generators. The Stat-X First Responder works by interrupting the chain reaction of the fire. Potassium radicals are the main active component of the Stat-X aerosol. These potassium radicals react with the free radicals of the flame, which results in suppression. Stat-X does not deplete the oxygen level nor does it deplete the ozone layer or contribute to global warming.

Stat-X First Responders

The Stat-X First Responders are an innovative new tool that can be used in a variety of circumstances. The handheld generators are designed to deploy quickly – by simply twisting the ring pin to release the safety clip, pulling the ring pin and then tossing the First Responder into the fire. The fire suppression agent releases in 5 seconds.

 

Stat-X First Responder use by Police and Firefighters

There are many circumstances when police and firefighters would benefit from Stat-X First Responders. For any emergency worker who is the first on scene of a fire, Stat-X First Responders are an effective way to address a fire while waiting on additional resources to arrive. Especially for vehicle fires where the First Responder can knockdown the fire entirely.

Stat-X First Responders are also an effective way to address potential flashover when water isn’t available yet. The Stat-X First Responder can be tossed ahead of the firefighter to eliminate many of the contributing factors of flashover.

The Stat-X First Responder can be used in situations where firefighters or civilians are trapped due to an intense area of fire. Tossing the First Responder into the flames will provide immediate fire suppression.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Precautions Needed for Confined Space Inspections

Life Safety inspections must be completed on all required devices, including backflow devices, regardless of where they are placed. A confined space is an enclosed area with limited space and accessibility that has the potential for a significant hazard to be present. A confined space is not necessarily designed for people to occupy it and has limited means of entry or exit, but is large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. Life Safety Inspections on devices located in confined spaces, if not performed properly, can lead to OSHA fines, technician injuries, or even death.

Possible dangers of confined spaces include toxic atmosphere, lack of oxygen, entrapment, explosive atmosphere, and physical hazards within the space. If hazards are present in a confined space then it is a permit-required confined space according to OSHA regulations. A non-permit required confined space is one in which all hazards have been removed.

To safely perform an inspection in a confined space, whether it is permit-required or not, precautions must be taken in order to avoid loss of life. To ensure safety, at least two technicians must be present when a worker is to enter a confined space. These two workers are the entrant and the attendant. An entrant goes into the space and performs the inspection; an attendant supervises the inspection and makes sure the space and the entrant remain safe.

Employers must ensure certain precautions are taken by workers whenever they enter a confined space. An employer is required to specify the exact precautions to be taken; train the workers in order to give them the knowledge to protect themselves and others; and plan how to rescue injured workers promptly and safely.

As a precaution for potential emergencies in confined spaces, OSHA also requires employers to develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue or emergency services in permit-required confined spaces. An employer who relies on local emergency services for assistance must ensure that the rescue workers are notified in advance and are available and prepared to respond; this includes having all necessary information to respond appropriately, safely, and effectively to the specific confined-space emergency.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Nick Duke
Nick Duke

When is a Backflow Pit a Permit-Required Confined Space?

A confined space is a space that is large enough and arranged so that an employee can physically enter, but has limited or restricted means for entry and exit, and is not designed for continuous occupancy. If a confined space contains serious hazards, then OSHA defines it has a permit-required confined space. Permit-required confined spaces must be identified and accessed with additional caution to protect workers lives.

A permit-required confined space has a configuration, or contents, that may present special dangers not found in normal work areas. These spaces may be poorly ventilated and, as a result, contain insufficient oxygen or hazardous levels of toxic gases. They may also present hazards to workers by not allowing them to keep a safe distance from mechanical and electrical hazards present in the space. Fumes from a flammable liquid that is used in a poorly ventilated area, can reach explosive levels in a permit-required confined space. Such hazards endanger both the workers in the space and any others who become exposed to the hazards when they attempt to rescue injured or trapped workers. Rescue workers have been injured or killed in a confined space because they did not have the proper training or equipment necessary to conduct a rescue safely.

In addition to the two workers (entrant and attendant), who are required for any confined space entry, to enter a permit-required confined space the workers also need additional equipment for safety. This includes any equipment that may be required for a worker rescue in the event a worker is stranded within the confined space. Required equipment includes atmospheric monitors, fall protection and extraction equipment, tripod, harness, and self-contained breathing apparatus.

To determine if your Backflow Pit is a permit-required confined space, you must evaluate the Backflow Pit to determine whether hazards exist or whether the work to be done in the space can create hazards. If the Backflow Pit contains an actual or potential hazard that can cause death, injury or acute illness, incapacitation, entrapment, or otherwise interfere with a worker’s ability to leave the space in an emergency, then it is a permit-required confined space.

Confined space entry and precautions for working in them is overseen by OSHA. OSHA defines a permit-required confined space as a space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

Once you have determined if your Backflow Pit is a permit-required confined space, adequate precautions must be taken to prevent loss of life or injury for the workers who enter the space.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Nick Duke
Nick Duke

Smoke Detector Sensitivity Testing

Your fire safety system depends on the accurate detection of smoke by your smoke detectors. In order to ensure your smoke detectors are working properly, and able to protect your people and assets, you must have sensitivity testing completed on a regular basis.

Smoke detectors are designed to function effectively within a specific range of sensitivity to smoke. This range is set by the manufacturer and the devices are required by NFPA to be tested regularly to ensure they remain within it. If a smoke detector is not as sensitive as it should be, then it may not react as quickly as it should to a fire. However, if the smoke detector is too sensitive, then you could have recurring nuisance alarms.

There are several options for performing sensitivity tests on smoke detectors. Sensitivity tests can be conducted by a recognized, calibrated test method with smoke or listed aerosol, or with equipment specifically designed for calibrating sensitivity in smoke detectors. There are listed control equipment arranged to perform sensitivity ranges and calibrated sensitivity test instruments designed by the smoke detector manufacturers. You can also use a combination smoke detector/control unit where the detector causes a signal at the control panel unit when its sensitivity is outside its listed sensitivity ranges.

During sensitivity testing, if a detector fails, it will need to be cleaned and retested. Cleaning smoke detectors should be left to your Life Safety Partner, as they will clean the smoke detector screen and chamber using a non-electrostatic vacuum specifically designed to prevent damage to the detector. After cleaning, the detector will be retested, if it fails again then it needs to be removed from service.

Sensitivity testing must be completed within one year of installation and every other year after that. After the second test, if the detector is within its listed sensitivity range for two consecutive tests, then the next sensitivity test is required in five years.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Nick Duke
Nick Duke

Top 10 OSHA Safety Violations

Many injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace are preventable. To assist employers in identifying and correcting hazards, OSHA publishes the list of the top 10 standards most frequently cited after an OSHA worksite inspection from the previous year.

The most recent list published is from Fiscal year 2015, which was October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. The following standards comprised the most violations found during inspections in that time frame. You should use this list in your next facility safety inspection to ensure you have a thorough safety plan and remove all potential hazards.

  1. Fall Protection (501)
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451)
  4. Respiratory Protection (134 – Respiratory Protection)
  5. Lockout/Tagout (147 – Lockout/Tagout)
  6. Powered Industrial Trucks (178 – Powered Industrial Trucks)
  7. Ladders (1053 – Ladders)
  8. Electrical, Wiring Methods (305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods)
  9. Machine Guarding (212 – Machine Guarding)
  10. Electrical, General Requirements (303 – Electrical, General Requirements)

Each standard covers a broad subject and must be reviewed thoroughly to ensure the hazards covered are not found at your facility or, if they are found, that they are addressed. This is also a good time to review your safety manual, as you find standards or hazards during your review, and make sure they are included in your customized safety manual.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane

Why have a customized Safety Manual?

Every business is required by OSHA to have a written safety manual. This safety manual must cover every aspect of OSHA standards that apply to your business and operations.

Because incomplete or outdated manuals can result in a fine from OSHA, it is best to have a manual customized for your business. There are a plethora of template safety manuals available online either for free or a small fee. However, these templates cannot be relied on to be up-to-date with the latest OSHA standards. In addition, using an online template leaves you with little direction in selecting the standards and requirements that apply to your business and specific processes employed by your workers.

OSHA provides a quick start feature online for businesses to learn more about the standards that apply to their facilities. However, even OSHA warns that this outline is not comprehensive to what may apply to each business. This guide is a good place to start though, as it outlines specific hazards that commonly apply in general industry, construction, and healthcare industries.

Employers must review the processes, equipment, and potential hazards at the facility to ensure all applicable OSHA standards are included in the manual. You will need to check for state occupational safety standards that would apply to your business and include those in your safety manual as well. An added benefit of carrying out a thorough review of your facility and work performed there is that, in addition to a complete safety manual, you can outline and take preventative measures for found hazards. This will substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries, and alleviate the associated financial burden.

Most successful safety manuals are based on a common set of key elements. Those include: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. You can read more on these topics in A1’s blogs, on Core Elements for a Safety & Health Management Program.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane

Emergency Communication Options for K-12 Schools

Simplify Emergency Communications from School Districts to Classrooms

Security and effective communications for K-12 schools is critical for all school systems. Schools need technology that can simplify this complex issue, create immediate emergency communication channels for administrators, staff, students, and visitors. School’s communication systems should be efficient for all school buildings, even those that are not staffed 24/7, cover large geographic areas, and during times when cellular networks are at their limits.

The Alertus System is one such tool for K-12 schools. There is no need to update your equipment or purchase equipment specific to Alertus, as this system utilizes your existing communication equipment to provide comprehensive emergency notification.

There are multiple options to choose from when setting up your emergency notification system. Will you need a district-wide or school-based notification system? Which communication devices will you want to integrate, such as computers, public address systems, and sounders and strobes? Can your local emergency services interact with the system – receiving and posting emergency notices?

Emergency Alert Grants/Donations for Schools

Some emergency communication systems offer special pricing for school systems. Alertus has a grant application for K-12 schools, colleges, universities and certain nonprofits to apply for their Desktop Donation Initiative. This initiative assists schools with severe budget challenges to address emergency communications. Recipients of the grant receive a perpetual license of Alertus Desktop Notification including the software, activation console, and unlimited utilization of notification on desktops and laptops throughout the school’s facilities. For more information, or to apply, check out Alertus.com/donation.

District-Wide or School-Based Notification

District-wide notification allows individual schools to communicate with the district office, local police and fire stations. K-12 schools can mount notification devices in the front offices, enabling administrators to respond to threats during a crisis. You can also tie in school’s existing voice public address system, enabling school administrators to share critical alert information to select schools or district wide.

School-based notification provides panic buttons within classrooms that communicate emergencies to other staff, the front office, or police/first responders. These panic buttons can also trigger a preset message over the school’s public address system, alerting everyone of an immediate lockdown during a safety incident.

Integrating Existing Systems to your Emergency Alert System

Each school will have existing systems in place, adding an emergency alert system should not mean costly upgrades or new equipment purchases. The Alertus System can be connected to desktops throughout your school’s facilities to provide on-screen notifications during an emergency. In addition, you can tie in the Alertus system with your public address system or outdoor notification system, fire alarm panel, digital signage, cable TV, and access control system as long as they utilize the CAP, Common Alert Protocol.

Connect your Local Emergency Services with your Emergency Alert System

Consider having your emergency notification system connected to your local dispatch for emergency responders. Some systems can automatically notify dispatch of emergency situations so that help can be sent right away. If you prefer not to have dispatch connected to your system, see if your system can store public safety numbers for easy access during an emergency.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

The Cost of Worker Injuries

Workplace injuries, illnesses, and death have far-reaching impacts to individuals’ lives. In addition to the consequences for the individual, and their family, the company for which they work will be negatively impacted. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone.

In addition to workers’ compensation costs, other direct costs to companies for workplace safety violations include medical expenses, and costs for legal services. The list of potential indirect costs for employers is much longer.

Indirect costs for workplace injuries include wages paid to injured workers for absences not covered by workers’ compensation and wage costs related to time lost through work stoppage associated with the worker injury. Employers may be required to pay overtime costs due to the injury, in addition to the administrative time spent by supervisors, safety personnel, and clerical workers after an injury. If an employee is unable to continue working, costs are incurred from training a replacement worker.

OSHA fines and any associated legal action can be extremely costly to employers. Lost productivity related to work rescheduling, new employee learning curves, and accommodation of injured employees can affect the company over an extended period of time; as well as loss of good will and profit from bad publicity.

The best way to mitigate these losses is to prevent workplace injuries. A Safety and Health Management Plan created specifically for your workplace will allow you to assess hazards, remove them if possible or, if not, develop safety procedures to decrease the potential for injury.

For a look at how your company could be affected by a worker injury, try out OSHA’s Safety Pays Program. This online tool allows employers to assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability. The program uses the company’s profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales a company would need in order to cover those costs.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane

OSHA Violations and Penalties

As we previously discussed in Increased OSHA Fines, OSHA has greatly increased the penalty levels for violations starting in 2017. The penalty amount depends on the type of violation. OSHA defines violations as Serious, Other-than-Serious, Posting Requirements, Failure to Abate, Willful, and Repeated.

Serious: A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.

Other-than-Serious: An Other-than-Serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but is not serious in nature.

Posting Requirements: If you receive an OSHA Notice, you must post it at or near the place where each violation occurred so that employees are made award of the hazards. The OSHA Notice must remain posted either for 3 working days or until the hazard is corrected, whichever is longer. Failure to comply with this posting requirement is a violation itself.

Failure to Abate: When a violation is cited, a date is set by which the hazard must be corrected. You must promptly notify the OSHA Area Director by letter that you have taken the appropriate corrective action within the time frame established. This letter is referred to as the Letter of Corrective Action, and must detail the specific action taken with regard to the violation and the date the action was taken. Failure to correct violations and notify OSHA of the correction within this time frame will incur another violation.

Willful: A willful violation is defined as a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.

Repeated: An employer may be cited for a repeated Serious violation if the workplace has been cited previously for the same or a substantially similar condition and OSHA’s region-wide inspection history for the agency lists a previous OSHA Notice issued within the past five years. An employer may be cited for a repeated Other-than-Serious violation if the workplace being inspected received a previous OSHA Notice issued within the past five years.

Serious, Other-than-Serious, and Posting Requirement violations incur a penalty of $12,675 per violation. Failure to Abate will incur a fine of $12,675 for each day you go past the date set in your notice. Willful and Repeated violations have a penalty of $126,749 for each violation.

Avoiding OSHA violations and fines is the best approach. To do so you must have an active Safety Management Plan. You can learn more about Safety Management plans, as well as OSHA Audits and how to prepare for them, with A1.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane