Well, it’s finally here—GEAR EXPO! This is the premier show for our industry, and I hope that you are planning to attend. I will admit that for the last two columns I have been shamelessly promoting the event as an ideal opportunity to improve your safety acumen. I do stand by this, however, because I believe that attending will help you to achieve your business goals. This show is so much more than just an opportunity to learn about safety; it is THE place to keep up with all of the latest developments in our industry. So please attend and enjoy GEAR EXPO, and I hope to see you there!
I’ll climb off of my soapbox now. A subject that we should discuss this month is the safety aspects of lubrication. I know that we’ve discussed this issue in previous installments of this column, but some things bear repeating. Not only is the proper lubrication of your machines critical to its productive life, it is both a safety requirement and a safety hazard. If a machine’s proper lubrication requirements are not met, there is a very real danger that a failure of the machine will occur, and it is possible that an operator or even a bystander can suffer a very real and potentially serious injury. Another possible hazard involved with lubrication is less obvious. Leaks in the system or carelessness in adding the proper lubrication can and do lead to hazardous situations. There are the “slip and fall” hazards of greasy areas around the machine, as well as those involved with handling blanks, hobs, or cut parts that have oil on them. I suggest that you review your safety procedures involving lubrication and confirm that these potential hazards are addressed.
Did you know that, in order for safety glasses to meet the high-impact tests of ANSI Z87.1-2003, they must pass a high velocity test where the projectile is a ¼” steel ball traveling at 102 miles per hour? In order to pass, no pieces can break free from the inside. The lens cannot fracture, and the lens must remain in the frame. In addition, the lens cannot deflect to the point of hitting the eye. It must also meet a lens retention test involving a pointed 1.1 lb. projectile dropped from 50 inches onto the lens. The requirements are the same as for the impact test, with the exception of the lens deflection. I mention this because I will admit that I used to go to the nearest hardware store and buy “safety glasses,” mostly based on price. These often did not reference a standard, and who knows how “safe” they were? OSHA cites Z87.1-2003 as the minimum standard for safety eyewear. I suggest that all of us review the safety eyewear in our facilities to ensure that they meet this minimum standard—and hopefully exceed it. Please note that the minimum standard for Z87.1-2003 is a basic impact test of a 1” ball dropped through a tube from 50”. As you can imagine, eyewear that meets this high standard offers much greater protection for the good of your employees, who are your most important assets.
In the July installment of this column we discussed incentives that may increase your employee’s attention to the safety aspects of their job. I wonder how many of you have applied these incentives, and what the results have been. Do you have an incentive-type safety program? Does it work? I know of employers that offer monetary incentives based on the lack of time lost to injuries, and other employers that use paid time off as an incentive. I would like for you to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments concerning your successes or failures with incentive programs for safety. If we get a good response I will be happy to devote a future column to sharing the information with our readers, and you can remain anonymous if you’d like. So let me hear from you!