Saturday, May 11, 2013

SDS, not MSDS - This is the path we chose.

These times they are a changin'.  If you haven't noticed, or been given notice, the same old way of tracking hazardous materials around your shop has changed.  Changed for the better, too.  Just like the CocaCola advertizements from the 70's (We'd like to teach the World to sing, in perfect harmony . . . .), we really did get the world to put aside their petty differences and agree on something that was good for everyone.  Congresses and Parliaments around the world could learn from this!

Introducing GHS - Globally Harmonized System - brought to you from your friends at the International Standards Organization (ISO) with help from the Unitedd Nations (UN).  What we once referred-to a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are now called just SDS (Safety Data Sheet).

OSHA is on-board with this initiative, too, and they have declared that all employers must train their employees about the new standard by December 1, 2013 in order to be in compliance with their revised Hazard Communication standard.  This means training on the new / revised labeling requirements, signal words, and pictograms (icons).  Before this standard was adopted it was frequently  difficult to locate all the pertinent information you might need in an emergency - the new format strives to simplify this and make all the forms more consistent.

ISHN magazine (Industrial Safety and Hygiene News), has put together an overview of the GHS requirements that you can download from their web site for free.  You do have to sign-up for their free magazine, but that is a worthwhile read in itself, so no inconvenience there at all.  Click on over to:

Here are some more resources to get you oriented to this new way of thinking:

OSHA's GHS Web Site with a complete indexed version of the GHS Purple Book:  Yes, make that a permanent Bookmark in your web browser!

GHS 101: Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from (I guess they may have to change their web name now!):

HCS Labeling and HazCom 2012 Guide By DuraLabel

Friday, May 10, 2013

6 Ways Small Breaches in Electrical Safety Have Shocking Results

By   Published 05/01/2013
Reposted with permission from DuraLabel's web site:

At first it may appear that most commercial facilities are fairly safe. You’ll find OSHA-compliant safety signage, well-marked exits, clear pathways, adequate floor marking, and even a pretty good safety training program in place. But a silent killer lurks at every industrial and office facility, and every year, ignorance of its danger costs hundreds of workers their lives. In fact, industry’s systemic failure to address this hazard results in three of OSHA’s top 10 safety violations every year.

Electricity is the lifeblood that makes industry possible, powering everything from desk lamps to giant machines. Because it is so reliable and ubiquitous, workers—even trained electricians—often take it for granted. Electricity is an instant killer: One tenth of an amp of electricity traveling through a human being for only two seconds is enough to kill. Electrocution isn’t the only hazard, however. OSHA’s regulations concerning use and wiring of electricity are also designed to prevent fires that can result from faulty wiring.

The OSHA regulations related to electricity that most employers are cited for are 29 CFR 1910.147 (Lockout/Tagout), 29 CFR 1910.303 (Electrical General Requirements) and 29 CFR 1910.305 (Electrical Wiring Methods). Let’s put on our compliance officer’s hat and go over six typical electrical hazards. We bet that if you do a thorough review of your facility, you’ll find at least one problem to correct.

1. Extension Cord/Power Strip Issues

For starters, extension cords are meant for temporary use only. OSHA compliance officers commonly cite for this issue. “If it is obvious it has been there for an extended period of time they can cite it as temporary wiring in place of permanent,” said safety consultant Jonathan Brown, of Advanced Safety and Health in Louisville, KY. What’s the threshold between temporary and permanent? Ninety days, and only for temporary holiday d├ęcor such as lights. Here are some other extension cord issues:
  • Damaged cords: Nicks, cracks, frays, and shorts can render a cord useless or worse, an electrocution hazard. Destroy damaged cords and purchase new ones. Running them through walls or across walkways damages them. Try stringing them overhead.
  • Daisy-chaining extension cords and power strips: Plugging one extension cord or power strip into another reduces the wattage capacity of each cord and creates a fire hazard. Now that surge-protected power strips with cable lengths of 10-25 feet are commonly available, the need to daisy-chain is eliminated. If you need additional electricity, hire an electrician to install power outlets where they are needed.

2. Amateur Wiring/Grounding Issues

Electricity is simply too dangerous to trust to amateurs. Cutting off the grounding plug to a power or extension cord or splicing together a couple of cords might seem harmless, but doing so can have lethal consequences to an always-unsuspecting worker. Case in point: A Chinese immigrant restaurant owner and his wife were refurbishing their new restaurant, and he had replaced the electrical cord to a glass-fronted cooler by splicing a 10/2 wire to a one-foot length of extension cord plugged into a wall receptacle. He never saw the ground wire on the 10/2 cord come loose and when he contacted the metal frame of the cooler and an adjacent metal stove, he was electrocuted.

In another case, a 20-year-old lifeguard at a large apartment complex was electrocuted when he entered the pump house to adjust the chlorine pump. Tragically, the metal pump motor housing had become energized with 220 volts—it wasn’t grounded properly, and hadn’t been approved for wet locations such as the pump house.

3. Inaccurate Labeling

 10 Tips for Safe Electricity

  1. Always use a licensed, bonded electrician for any electrical work in your facility.
  2. If you have not tested your circuitry, have it analyzed for safety and thoroughly labeled.
  3. Treat all conductors as dangerous until they are locked and tagged out.
  4. Regularly inspect all electrical tools.
  5. Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and overcurrent protection devices.
  6. Review your electrical safety program.
  7. Avoid using ungrounded home appliances and overuse of extension cords in the office environment.
  8. Have fire extinguishers rated for electrical fires easily accessible.
  9. Use non-conductive ladders when doing electrical work.
  10. Never allow workers to do electrical work without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
It’s critical that electrical circuits are accurately labeled, and that switches, cabinets, arc flash hazards, etc. leave no room for confusion. How accurate and easy to read is the labeling on your facility’s electrical panels?

The story of a 32-year old maintenance worker illustrates this point: He had been asked to change a broken metal halide bulb in a ceiling fixture and had taken several precautions, including studying the “as-built” plans so that he could de-energize the circuit. However, the plans were not accurate and he was electrocuted when he used an uninsulated tool to remove the broken bulb. He had turned off a breaker, but it was mislabeled and the circuit was still energized.

Labeling switches and other components is critical too. A 43-year-old man testing the insulation on a conduit coil was electrocuted because of a faulty cable repair. However, a coworker was unable to de-energize the coil tester because the power switch was not labeled.

4. Openings in Electrical Enclosures

All the unused openings in an electrical panel have to be closed, including unused slots for breakers and knock-outs. If the opening isn’t replaced with a blank, a shock hazard exists if someone places a finger into an open slot.

5. Lack of Training and Electrical Safety Program

Nearly every electrocution or electrical burn suffered by workers could have been prevented had they been properly trained and followed standard operating procedures.

NFPA 70E (Article 110) and OSHA both spell out training requirements for electrical workers. The standards mandate that electrical workers are considered “qualified” when they know how to use a voltage detector and have specific knowledge and skills. According to these standards, employers must provide a documented electrical safety program that spells out safe work practices for employees. In addition, employees must be periodically retrained and the safety program audited for effectiveness.

6. Look! Up in the Sky!

Many electrocutions occur as a result of contacting overhead power lines. Whenever starting an electrical job, conduct a hazard analysis that takes into account location of nearby power lines. Poles, pipes, ladders, and other lengthy items held aloft are tall enough to convey a deadly jolt to a hapless worker.

Read more at:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Blast from the past can give you a jolt

Older stage lighting instruments can be quaint, still functional, and educational, however you can run the risk of electrocution and asbestos exposure with many of them.
Classic Century LekoLite
The common hazards with many older lights is that they were only equipped with two power wires and no safety ground conductor.  To further compound the hazard, the connector on the end of the power cord may predate the evolution of polarized grounded connectors.

Polarized Grounded Stage Pin connector (left) and Unpolarized Ungrounded Stage Pin connector (right)
The result is that the lamp socket can have either the outer contact shell or the central contact pin connected to either the hot (live) conductor or the neutral conductor.  As you can see, the two-pin type plus is reversible.

Should you attempt to open the lamp housing while the light is plugged-in, you could potentially expose yourself to lethal voltages. HUGE NOTE:  ALWAYS UNPLUG A DEVICE BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO OPEN IT UP OR CHANGE A LAMP.  There are numerous reasons for this:  If the lamp globe is broken you can come in contact with one or more of the inner electrodes, or the electrodes could come in contact with the lamp chassis and energize it.  If the device is not equipped with a safety ground conductor that ties the chassis to the electrical system safety ground, then you could become part of the electrical path.  Other reasons are that the old lamp sockets can become brittle and may have disintegrated due to prolonged high-temperature use.  This leaves the inner electrical parts exposed so you might come in contact with them.

Borderlight Strip with 4 two-conductor Asbestos Insulated Cables
Occasionally you may encounter a lighting instrument that was manufactured just before the use of Asbestos cables was discontinued.  Some of these have tri-color dyed insulation: Green, White, and Black.
Fresnel with Tri-color Asbestos Insulation
As you can see in these pictures, it was common practice to clamp-down directly on the asbestos insulation of the cables, so the bending and twisting at the point where the strain relief is applied can cause the insulation to become worn and abraded, which in-turn, can bring the inner conductor in contact with the equipment chassis.

When handling asbestos jacketed cables, always wear latex / nitril gloves, clean-off the loose particles with a damp cloth, and dispose of the contaminated rag in a safe manner.  Equipment like this should be retired from service.  If they are to be kept for historical reference and teaching, store them jumbo plastic bags so that the dust particles do not continue to contaminate the surrounding areas.  Preserving the past does not mean contaminating the future!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stanky Thang - Be Gone!

Sometimes it just isn't practical to bring your hard-hat with you, yet borrowing one from the tool pool seems a bit, well, yechy might be the word.  You don't know where that thing has been, or who has been wearing it.  The sharing of hard hats can bring the unwanted transfer of lice, skin disease, viruses, and, well, general yechiness!

Be polite to yourself and your guests and clean your gear, particularly your spare gear.  Wipe them down with disposable alcohol wipes, wash them with hot water and anti-bacterial soap, and keep them up off of the floor where bugs won't climb into them and build webs or nests (shudder . . .).  Believe me, 'Buzz' doesn't want to feel the after-effects of Brylcreem Bob's 'doo gel on his chrome dome.  Replacing the brow sweat band once in awhile would be a good idea, too!

GKR Industries offers the Hardliner disposable sanitary hard hat liner. Simple to install, easy to dispose of.
More info here:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fall Into Orchestra Pit Claims Another Life

On March 17th, 2013, the Acting Chief Director of the Perm Opera and Ballet Company backed-up and fell about 3m (~10 feet) into an open Orchestra Pit during a rehearsal of Peer Gynt.  Olga Enns, 33, struck her head and was urgently rushed to the hospital where doctors assessed her injuries and said she here chances of survival were minimal.

Olga Enns - 1980-2013
Olga spent the next two week in a coma, and on April 2, 2013, she passed away.  She is survived by here mother and a sister.  Olga had worked at Perm since 2006 and was integral in the effort to make  the theatre more friendly to visiting performance companies.


Let's be more vigilant about safety!
Watch-out for others that are working
around the edges of stages and traps.

To flash, or not to flash. That is the question.

Event Support Vehicle Traffic can present a hazard to pedestrians and other vehicles around a show site.  It is common practice for everyone to leave their amber 4-way emergency / hazard flashers running continuously in a effort to alert others.  This practice may seem to be beneficial, but after awhile it just clutters the visual landscape and is tuned-out by those it may benefit the most.

To further complicate matters, if some of the flasher lamps on the vehicle are burned-out, then it may appear that the vehicle driver is signalling a turn when they are not.  When the amber 4-way emergency / hazard flashers are on, it also makes intentional use of the turn signals non-apparent.  Additional rational for this can be found on the HazardsOFF web site.

In an effort to homogenize the use of flashers at the appropriate times, a group of UK event organizers have started a campaign to get uniform policies throughout the event work staff to NOT use flashers.

Visit the HazardsOFF web site of more information, window stickers, policy advice, and more.

Monday, May 6, 2013

UK Purple Guide Revision Draft Open for Comment

The UK's guide to event operations and safety, also known as HSG195, has been under revision for the past half year, and the committee's work is now available for public input.  The open comment period will last until the end of October 2013, after which all comments received will be reviewed for integration.

Covering both legislation and good practice, this new guide has been designed to alert and inform both event organizers and suppliers to the practices and issues that need to be considered when events are being organized. The contents are not designed to be prescriptive, and those using this guide should undertake risk assessments and evaluations that are appropriate to evaluate the specific requirements of the unique events they are planning.

The Purple Guide to Health, Safety and Welfare at Music and Other Events (Draft) can be found here:

Sunday, May 5, 2013


NAOSH Week occurs every year during the first full week of May and is aimed at raising awareness about occupational safety, health and the environment and safety, health and engineering professions. The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) joined with the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) and partners in Mexico to promote safety awareness in North America during NAOSH Week.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

You light up my life, er, ah, Hardhat!

Hard hats are great, but they don't offer a lot of options for attaching headlamps. We work in near darkness many places in the theatre, and holding a pen-light in your mouth for any length of time can result in drooling all-over yourself and the flashlight - not mention the yech factor of where it may have recently been.  The typical elastic band type headlamps that hobbyist wear won't stay-put because the elastic band will slip across the slick surface of the hardhat and fall off at the most inopportune time.  Securing your flashlight to your hardhat frees-up your hands for more productive work.
Helmet Light
Streamlight Rubber Strap Mount on firefighter's helmet, and Streamlight Clip Mount (inset).

Streamlight, makers of industrial strength flashlights for fire and rescue teams has a good solution:  The Haz-Lo Helmet Lighting Kit.  In includes a clamp bracket so you can secure the flashlight to the helmet rigidly with a pivoting mount, a rubber helmet strap with holes you can thread the flashlight through, and a 3AA LED flashlight with a tail cap type switch.  The clamp bracket has a captive screw so you won't be loosing those tiny parts.

More info at:

A pair of these lights provides redundancy and doubles your work light to 240 lumens, each running 6-1/2 hours.  Remember:  It is still a good idea to safety cable the flashlight to your hard hat, and safety cable you hard hat to your gear belt.

Friday, May 3, 2013

LOTO also means - Test Before You Touch

As a part of Electrical Safety Month, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi) has published a safety flyer addressing the need to test an electrical device BEFORE you stick your fingers or tools in to work on it.  Just because you THINK it's OFF, doesn't necessarily MEAN it's OFF.  To mix a metaphor and paraphrase our favorite Star Trek character:
      Measure Twice - Live Long and Prosper!

Get the Test Before You Touch safety flyer here for reprinting and distribution to your crew:

Or you can order the pamphlets for a nominal charge at:

There is a free Test Before You Touch safety video that can be watched online or downloaded at: and scroll down to: ESFI "Never Assume" Safety Series

Or you can purchase the "Never Assume" DVD here:


Thursday, May 2, 2013

2014 NFPA 70 - NEC is now available for Pre-Order

The NFPA announced that the 2014 NFPA 70 - National Electric Code can be pre-ordered with a 25% discount if the order is placed before July 10, 2013.  The code book won't ship until later in the year, and you won't be billed until it ships.
For more info, visit:

Electrical Safety Month Reminder - LOTO

There is a great safety poster available for download at the Energy Facilities Contractors Group (EFOCG) Health and Safety web site:
Get it here: Tagout.pdf

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is Electrical Safety Month

Let's place a little extra emphasis on electrical safety this month.  With the end of the school year for many, and the beginning of the summer festival season for others, may is a good time to get your house in order.

Electrical hazards can appear in many work spaces around the are theatre plant (yes, it is a factory, we make a product, we produce goods, and a few bads).  Some of the most common electrical hazards I see around theatres involve power outlets, extension cords, and the interface between the cables and the item they are connected to (i.e. - failed cable grips).

Be sure to use Lock-Out / Tag-Out (LOTO) procedures so the equipment behind the cover plate is dead before you go poking around with a screw driver.  All it takes is one slip and you can come in contact with live parts!  It is better the circuit be dead than you!

Broken connectors present a very serious hazard because they can lead to miss-alignment of the power pins / blades, which can result in the live parts shifting and coming in contact with the cover plate.  This electrifies the cover plate (if it is metal) and may trip a circuit breaker.  The unseen danger may be that the plate and/or connector are not properly grounded.  If they are not grounded, you might be the easiest path to ground that the electricity seeks-out.

Broken or missing cover plates present a similar danger.  This allows small items like fingers and screw drivers to to come in contact with live circuits.  Where larger openings are present, larger items like music stands, microphone stands, and chair legs can fall-over and come in contact with the live wiring.

In the example at the left, the receptacle is missing the cover plate AND was a ungrounded connector.

Some facilities favor stainless steel covers for their look and durability, some use plastic (typically Nylon, but other formulations are available).  The Nylon cover plates are particularly durable in that the Nylon material flexes a bit without breaking, where other plastics tend to be more brittle and shatter when stressed.

It's not just the power receptacles on the wall that need to be audited - remember to check floor pockets, receptacles inside cabinets, and on ceilings, too.