Posts Tagged ‘safety’

It wasn’t too long ago that I walked onto a refinery job site that Precision Pipe was supply equipment to.  At this site I saw an interesting event about to transpire.  A welder who was not associated with our company was getting ready to light a torch next to a vessel we had just delivered the day before. It appeared to me that he intended to cut into the vessel. Surprised to be seeing this, I quickly made my way over to him to see what he was doing.  He informed me that the construction manager (from a well respected and large engineering firm) instructed him to make a modification to the pressure vessel as a solution to a piping problem.  I asked him to stand by for a second so that we could discuss with plant manger the implications his modifications might have.

The welder became rather irritated with me and informed me he had his directions and he intended to follow them.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the ASME code, let me explain the implications of this kind of modification in the ASME code world. First, if the welder had actually brought his torch to the shell of the vessel he would have undone the ASME certification on that vessel.  In other words the vessel would have no longer been a certified ASME pressure vessel and the customer would have wasted several thousands of dollars on that pressure vessel.  As the manufacturer I would have been required to remove the name plate from that vessel the moment I saw the flame come into contact with it. Second, that vessel would have no longer been acceptable to use on the job site as it was being implemented at a refinery in an ASME mandatory site and State.  Lastly, Precision would have likely had to of retaken possession of that vessel, repair it according to ASME standards, re-certify and qualify the vessel as meeting the ASME code.  The vessel would have also required a second name plate identifying it as an “R” or “Repaired” pressure vessel.

The reality of the situation was, the construction manager was under immense pressure to complete the project and at that point he was willing to cut corners.  What he didn’t anticipate was getting caught in a major blunder which would have added greater delays and expense to his project.  Anything worth doing is worth doing right and this is especially true for engineered products like ASME vessels. Knowing what the proper proceeders are for welding and modifying an ASME pressure vessel is imperative.  In this situation, the only way to modify the vessel is following the ASME code by using a qualified ASME shop with an “R” stamp.  Any welding or cutting on an ASME pressure vessel must be performed by a qualified shop that is in good standing with the National Board.  The pressure vessel will have to be reinspected by a third party authorized inspector and may need to have X-ray and hydrostatic testing to keep the ASME certification and name plate.

As an ASME qualified shop we encourage anyone to use us or another code shop as a resource to answer any question you may have on qualifications, modifications, and inspection of ASME pressure vessels, Heat Exchanger, or Boiler’s.  We would rather take a few minutes to understand and explain what your options are according to the code then risk an accident or injury .  In addition, if we can simply answer your question this a a free service we offer to any prospective customer.  If you are a plant manager and you are unsure if you can use any certified welder?  Give us a call and we can walk you though what it takes to maintain your ASME certifications.  If you have an ASME pressure vessel, Heat Exchanger, or Boiler that needs work or an addition of a nozzle or coupling.  Call us we can tell you what you must do to add the new components in a safe and code qualified manner.

As it turns out I was able to get the welder to wait a minute.  Explaining to him the consequences of his modification calmed him down long enough to bring in the decision makers.  The plant manager, the construction manager (having tucked his tail between his legs), and I all discussed the changes that were necessary and it was ultimately decided a ‘T’ in the process piping was the most effective work around for the problem.  Having an ASME specialist onsite that day saved thousands of dollars, countless hours, and potentially the integrity of the plants operational safety in the future.  Don’t be shy to email or call us or any other ASME qualified shop to discuss your project or equipment with ASME name plates. Your local rig welder or fabrication shop may be good, they may be able, they may even have a piece of paper that  say’s they are certified to make a weld. However, it is imperative you at least speak with a shop that is ASME qualified before you make any welds on a certified ASME pressure vessel.


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It’s interesting to me to see cycles in the work place. It seems to me that early in the industrial age the thought of a safe work place was quite simply “be careful”. I’ve seen pictures of men working on the erection of the Empire State Building with no fall protection, no hard hats, no sign stating how many days they had gone without an accident, minimal safety equipment what-so-ever!  In just a quick search (and my next statement may be totally bogus) I found to believe that the construction company only had five fatalities in the fifteen month duration which employed 3500 laborers for more the seven million hours of labor. Considering that the building is over 1,400 feet tall that’s pretty dang impressive (see the link below). I’m not sure what happened between the 1930’s and 1971 but it appears that people either stopped caring about being careful or we bred caution right out of the gene pool. Now I’m relatively young and I don’t remember the start of the unions; I honestly don’t remember when OSHA first started but somewhere along the line people started believing that it is the responsibility of any company in the United States to protect employees from every possible scenario that either “might” or “could” happen while someone is at work. My first experience with OSHA left a lasting impression on me that still resonates in my mind, “We have to protect people from themselves”. I have seen people standing on top of forty foot tall fiberglass storage tanks (with a thin layer of ice from the previous night) with no fall protection and not give a thought about what might happen if just one of their boots happened to slip and send them to the concrete below. I have seen people do amazing things that most people would consider not smart. Heck, I’ve done more than a few things in my life that most people would consider downright stupid. But the whole time I was doing those things I realized in the back of my head that I was making the choice to do those things. I knew better and did them anyway. Training would not have helped me in my youthful arrogance. OK, back to the cycles. My latest experience with OSHA has been somewhat different. It was due to a complaint against our company. So we had an OSHA representative come in and do an audit, run some tests, and file a report. In my responses and in my work to correct the items that they felt were inadequate I have come to realize that it is not my responsibility to make sure no one gets hurt. It is my responsibility to provide a safe work place. It is my responsibility to makes sure that employees know the hazards in the workplace that they are working. It is my responsibility to make sure the employees have the protective equipment to perform the work in such a way that they do not get hurt. If an employee has been trained on a certain piece of equipment (and by trained I mean shown the proper way to use the machine, told and/or shown the hazards associated with the machine, told what the machine is for) and a freak accident happens, it’s not the fault of the company. Now it happened on the job so workers comp kicks in but if the employee is using the machine for something other than its intended use or not wearing the PPE (personal protective equipment) that is required the fault falls on the employee. The company is not always the bad guy. Sometimes, people simply need to follow the rules and a repeatable safety record will follow. So hopefully the trend will continue to push people into thinking through their actions before something happens. And hopefully word will spread soon that every employee has a responsibility to “be careful”.

Life images of the Empire State Building

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Did you know that there are a few simple steps you can take to save quite a bit of money on your insurance?  No, it’s NOT switching to GEICO®!   Certifying your company with the State Cost Containment Board (Name varies from state to state) can make a big difference in the amount of Workman’s Compensation Insurance that your company pays out.  (And, it is so easy, even a Ca…you get the point.)  It is amazing that every company doesn’t go through the steps of cost containment to keep that money within their organization.

More importantly, cost containment is more than saving money – it is a commitment within your organization to provide a safe working environment for all.  This ethos can only be achieved through the constant effort of top leadership to promote safety within the organization.  Safety programs and open lines of communication are effective tools in keeping a safe work environment but without a constant push from the top, employees often become complacent which can lead to accidents.

If you haven’t already, begin a cost containment program within your organization.  Usually, a company needs to have a cost containment program in effect for one year prior to submitting to the certifying entity.  Though this process may seem tedious, it is worth creating an environment of safety and care as a core value.

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Welding Safety

A safe working environment does not always make for the easiest positions or circumstance when it comes to welding. Take grinder guards as an example. In the 10+ years of working with welders I have yet to meet one who appreciates the safety a grinder guard brings to the workplace. In fact it has been quite the opposite! Most welders resist being required to keep a guard on the grinder they are using. This would seem to be counter intuitive as the very piece of equipment they are using could seriously injure (and disable) a welder in less than a second. I have seen grinding wheels explode and do serious damage to both the un-experienced and the welding veteran. So what is that makes safety such an adverse topic in the workplace? Is it the fact that people as a whole do not like being told what to do? Is it simply that no one thinks accidents will happen to them? I’ll leave that for the psychologists to figure out. What I get to figure out is how to help the employees in our shop understand that the safety requirements that we have either chose to implement or have been mandated to implement by the governing authority is for their safety. We attempt to keep safety at the fore front of our employee’s daily routine by having weekly safety meetings that typically relate to a hazard that has been noticed the prior week. In fact, as I write this I am waiting for the 9:00 meeting to begin where today we will be covering the health hazards of Hexavalent Chrome. Something relatively new to the industry (in the last 10 years or so) but still very important to discuss. We will cover some basic welding safety including keeping your head out of the welding plume, proper ventilation, and other welding hazards. Hopefully we can keep the training fresh and interesting and not become a shop that does “safety” because we have to but because a safe workplace promotes good moral and a high quality product.


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