Discussing the Safety and Efficiency of Today's Workplace and Workforce

Welcome to the sounding board for facility managers, maintenance directors, safety managers and operations executives with concerns and questions about workplace electrical safety and efficiency. This forum should open subjects and minds to understanding of OSHA, NFPA and common sence electrical management. And, in conjuntion, it will serve as a source of information on the latest facility management techniques for full operational efficiency.

Look for discussions about Arc Flash Analysis, developing Electrical Safety Programs, compliance issues, Infrared Inspections, Energy Audits, Employee Assessment, Lean Management in Maintenance and Facilities and where to find the help you need.

Welcome to the Journal! We welcome your contributions!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Don't Take These Arc Flash Analysis Shortcuts!

Eliminate Short Circuit Analysis and Coordination Device Study

Problems: The short circuit analysis and coordination device study accurately model your electrical distribution system, and without knowing this, engineers are guessing. There are a few inherent dangers here. First off, the danger of the arc flash and blast is calculated both in terms of energy AND time. An arc flash incident point with a lower level of energy may be more dangerous that a higher voltage area because of the time for the breaker to pop. Without knowing this, engineers must take a guess and make one of two decisions; A) assume the best case scenario and rate the category based on that, leaving someone with category 2 clothing and equipment exposed to a category 3 or 4 situation. Should an accident happen here, an investigator may find your company to blame for excessive damages that could have been avoided. B) assume the worst case scenario and base the categories on this. This is the path that most engineers take because it covers them and the maintenance technician. Here’s the problem – this might actually be a category 2 situation and the engineer will make it category 3 to cover everyone. You now just saved $3K on engineering, but now need to go out and buy $10K in PPE & tools to meet category 3. The other big factor is that the higher the category of PPE, the more hot and restrictive it is for the technician to work and the longer it takes. One of the goals of your program is to get everyone in the best possible situation to do their job safely, not to overburden them and the company with unnecessary equipment.

Eliminate corrective actions investigation

Problems: The reality is that few companies actually do this, primarily because they do not understand the real world applications of an electrical distribution system and how electrical technicians work on them. When engineers identify a design flaw that either makes your system less efficient or puts workers at higher risk for shock or arc flash, they should make corrective recommendations to you before the arc flash analysis is completed. There is a reason that the breaker in your lunch room keeps popping when you plug in the coffee pot that requires a call to maintenance! A corrective actions investigation will make your system more efficient and safe, but this too can only be done if the short circuit analysis and coordination device study is completed. Simply changing a breaker out for a different one could save you tens of thousands of dollars over time.

Be sure your analysis provider provides you with the complete study. Work Safely!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leveraging Your CMMS for Improving Plant Efficiency

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is essential for efficiently managing any maintenance program. Managers and technical personnel alike rely on the software to set budgets, perform tasks and manage productivity. In too many cases, however, the CMMS is not producing the desired result and incorrect information is being provided to guide the maintenance program. With lean departments and increasing dsire by management to control costs, having a well-functioning CMMS system is critical to the success of any maintenance department.

An experienced CMMS consultant has a deep understanding of the current problems most organizations face with their CMMS. Working closely with the facility organization, they can identify gaps, provide practical corrective actions and develop a guide for future planning. An audit of the CMMS should also include the basis to decide if upgrading is necessary.

Here is what to expect with such an audit. And, by the way, the cost of an audit has a very high rate of return, often saving tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first year.

Look for: Documentation of strengths/weaknesses and opportunities for improvement; better budget planning; justification for improvement projects; achievement of maintenance and reliability goals; better parts inventory management; and, overall cost reductions and productivity improvement.

The flow of new improvement ideas continue as higher levels of control and savings can help finance future improvements, further enhancing the audit, planning, scheduling and control cycle and ensuring a steady flow of better methods, savings and a more reliable, safer and lower cost physical plant.

Contact an expert here at Martin Technical to learn more. Or, call 303.718.1365 for personal assistance.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Value of Predictive Maintenance

We came across an excellent article published in England. The on-line publication, Process & Control Today has been around for a while, and is a good source for facility managers and engineers. Here's the link to "Managing Process and Equipment through Predictive Maintenance". When you finish reading it, call 303-718-1365, or link to a full-service source right here in the States, Martin Technical.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

OSHA is Full of...Information

The government faces all kinds of battles...asked to do what it can't, or asked to stop doing what it is doing. One thing that does go well in our government, though, is the flow of information, particularly relating to workplace safety and regulation.

We are fond of this link to an OSHA page titled "Safety and Health Topics - Electrical." Lots of links to lots of resources and answering basic questions about what standards apply, what information is available, how to recognize hazards in the workplace, and some solutions to those problems.

Read as deep as you like. This is an absorbing and interesting site for deep exploration.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Take a Look at the Way You Look at Facility Management

It's the same function, but as this excerpt from Wikipedia shows, views around the world differ on the definition of Facility Management. Fascinating.

One definition provided by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is:

"A profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, processes and technology."
Another broader definition provided by IFMA is: "The practice or coordinating the physical workplace with the people and work of the organization; integrates the principles of business administration, architecture, and the behavioral and engineering sciences."
In the UK and other European countries facilities management has a wider definition than simply the management of buildings and services. The definition of FM provided by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and ratified by BSI British Standards is:
“Facilities management is the integration of processes within an organisation to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities”.
The British Institute of Facilities Management has formally adopted the CEN definition but also offers a slightly simpler description:
"Facilities management is the integration of multi-disciplinary activities within the built environment and the management of their impact upon people and the workplace".
In Australia, the term Commercial Services has replaced facilities management in some organisations. Commercial services can also define services other than just looking after facilities, such as security, parking, waste disposal, facility services and strategic planning.
A single or multiple buildings located on a single plot of land is referred to as a "Site". Multiple sites located in a single metropolitan area, but used by the same legal entity, are referred to as a "Campus." A Facility Management department may be responsible for a site; a campus; or, a regional area with multiple sites or campuses which may be a mix of owned and leased facilities. A Facility Management department will normally exist to manage the owner-occupied, physical assets of a company; whereas a Property Management department will normally exist to represent the only leased spaces. A Facility Management department is focused on cost effective, long-term utilization and value preservation of the owned assets while a Property Management department is typically focused on short-term lease returns.

Martin Technical recently completed a study of Facility Management Efficiency in Chicago. Let us tell you about it. Contact sales@martintechnical.com.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Serious Reason and Serious Work for OSHA in 2010

-Electrical injuries cost employers approximately $15.75 million per case in direct and indirect costs, according to a recent study by the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA.

-In the last two weeks, OSHA has fined the following USPS facilities for willful negligence of violating electrical safety standards. Many more USPS fines are anticipated, as the various local chapters of the American Postal Workers Union presses OSHA for workplace inspections.

      o Providence, RI $558K
      o Denver, CO $217K
      o Bedford Park, IL $210K

-The Protecting America’s Workers Act (H.R. 2067), introduced by U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D- CA), chair of the subcommittee, will strengthen and modernize the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the law that ensures the health and safety of American workers. Part of this proposal is increased OSHA penalties for job safety violations and establishment of mandatory minimum penalties for violations resulting in worker deaths, so fines are more than just a slap on the wrist. Criminal violations of the OSH Act would be made a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, and be expanded to cover cases that involve serious bodily injuries, not just worker deaths.

         o Serious and Other than Serious penalties would rise to $10,000 and would be required to be between $20,000 and $50,000 if the violation resulted in a death

         o Willful and Repeat violation penalties would go to $100,000 and would jump to a potential $250,000 if the violation resulted in a death.

- The number of Federal OSHA inspections in 2010 is predicted to be 40,000.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

OSHA News on a Rainy Day

In light of new energy at OSHA, and major penalty levies in the last few days against three USPS facilities (Denver, Providence and Bedford, IL), here is an interesting summary of OSHA's stepped up enforcement program...from a law firm's viewpoint. You can read it here.

And, if you have questions about your own facility, electrical safety, arc flash hazards or maintenance efficiency, contact this company...which is definitely not a law firm.