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BusINess » Safety

Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

Whiting Refinery chief says $3.8 billion project unbowed by challenges

A worker prepares a segment of the $3.8 billion modernization of the BP Whiting Refinery. The project, which will allow the plant to process more heavy crude oil extracted from Canadian tar sands, is on track for completion in 2012. (Photograph by Heather Eidson/The Times.)

A worker prepares a segment of the $3.8 billion modernization of the BP Whiting Refinery. The project, which will allow the plant to process more heavy crude oil extracted from Canadian tar sands, is on track for completion in 2012.
(Photograph by Heather Eidson/The Times.)

Most executives might call it a year to forget.

Since Nick Spencer began working at BP in October 2009, the company has had to shake the impact of the recession and fuel-price crash. Months later, the company faced a storm of negative public opinion and rising costs as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP also shuffled its management ranks, with Bob Dudley succeeding Tony Hayward as the London-based company’s chief executive.
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Making the workplace safe and healthy through education

Getting employers to see the benefits of training is sometimes difficult. Missed man hours and the temporary loss of worker output may not seem worth the expense. However every company, big or small, should invest in industry safety training for all employees. In 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1224 construction workers died on the job with 36 percent of those fatalities resulting from falls.

While events surrounding these types of accidents often involve a number of factors, most involved human error. Safety training is not limited to companies that utilize machinery or heavy equipment. It can be as simple as knowing what attire to wear during certain weather conditions and extensive as being able to distinguish potential chemical hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has many workplace safety standards and regulations that affect employers and employees in almost every industry in the United States.
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Indiana workplace injuries drop in ‘09

Indiana’s nonfatal workplace injury and illness rate dropped in 2009 to its lowest rate on record, according to data the Bureau of Labor Statistics released late last month.

The Indiana Department of Labor said the rate of 4.3 cases per 100 full-time workers represents a 12 percent drop from the 2008 rate of 4.9 occupational illnesses and injuries per 100 workers. The year-over-year decline was the largest on record in a one-year period. The total number of Indiana cases in 2009 was 94,800, down from 112,100 cases reported in 2008.

In 2009, the national average for private employers was 3.6 cases per 100 workers and for public sector employers was 5.8 cases per 100 workers.
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Portage business gets the lead out

Terrell Taylor, of Group 1 Construction, trains to earn his EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Certification needed for homes built before 1978 during a class at Greentree Environmental Services in Portage. (Photograph by The Times.)

Terrell Taylor, of Group 1 Construction, trains to earn his EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Certification needed for homes built before 1978 during a class at Greentree Environmental Services in Portage. (Photograph by The Times.)

To protect against the risk of renovation activities causing hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices.

The rule, which began April 22, requires contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects in homes, facilities and schools built prior to 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

Greentree Environmental Services Inc. in Portage is the second approved training provider in the state where contractors can become certified renovators via an eight-hour training course.

“Not everybody knows about this new RRP rule,” said Robert Hallmen, Greentree co-founder and vice president. “I would estimate about 20 percent of contractors even know about it.”

Hallmen said the trickle-down effect of the rule means it will encompass landlords.

“If you receive any compensation at all for a pre-1978 property, you have to be RRP certified to do renovations,” he said.

Greentree Environmental was established by Hallmen and his brother, John R. Casey, the company’s president, in 1996 when the EPA started requiring disclosure on real estate transactions.

“When you rented a piece of property that was built prior to 1978, or sell it, you have to hand out a booklet to the new owner along with any knowledge of lead-based paint on your property,” Hallmen said. “We saw an opportunity knocking, so we figured there was going to be testing coming up due to disclosure in 1996.”
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Perils in the workplace

Naomi Brimer and her husband, Terry, were planning to adopt shortly before Terry died in an industrial accident at the BP Whiting Refinery in 2004. Brimer proceeded with their plans and adopted Kaci Jia Le Brimer in 2006. Kaci is now 5 years old. Here, they spend time together in their Schererville home. (Photograph by The Times.)

Naomi Brimer and her husband, Terry, were planning to adopt shortly before Terry died in an industrial accident at the BP Whiting Refinery in 2004. Brimer proceeded with their plans and adopted Kaci Jia Le Brimer in 2006. Kaci is now 5 years old. Here, they spend time together in their Schererville home. (Photograph by The Times.)

Ava Miller and hundreds of others in the Calumet Region who lost loved ones to workplace dangers in the past four decades measure their pain in the emotional voids left behind.

At least 316 workers died, and another 343 injured workers carry the scars of those dangers through lost limbs, disfigurement or other injuries.

State and federal safety inspectors recorded the dangers throughout all industries during more than 15,000 inspections of region workplaces from 1972 through 2008. Those inspections yielded at least 14,844 violations deemed serious enough by inspectors that they posed a risk of injury or death to workers.
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Making sure everyone comes home

John Gelon, United Steelworkers Local 1010 trainer and safety committee secretary, stands in front of the ArcelorMittal plant in East Chicago on Friday. Gelon lost his grandfather in a mill accident more than 60 years ago at the same plant, when it was operated by Inland Steel. He's now at the forefront of keeping fellow workers safe. (Photograph by The Times.)

John Gelon, United Steelworkers Local 1010 trainer and safety committee secretary, stands in front of the ArcelorMittal plant in East Chicago on Friday. Gelon lost his grandfather in a mill accident more than 60 years ago at the same plant, when it was operated by Inland Steel. He's now at the forefront of keeping fellow workers safe. (Photograph by The Times.)

It’s hard for people not in the steel industry to think a person can get used to spending more than eight hours a day near 3,000-degree molten iron or welding a piece of machinery that is more than 100 feet in the air.

Workers try to focus on doing their jobs, even though in years past, department mates and friends didn’t make it home after a shift, or they returned with severe burns or lost limbs.

“This isn’t just, you come to your job and get a paycheck,” said John Gelon, trainer and secretary for the United Steelworkers Local 1010 safety committee at ArcelorMittal. “If you take this as just a job, you’ll get people hurt or killed. . . . You gotta have some passion.”
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Providing high security

(Photograph by John Luke.)

(Photograph by John Luke.)

Security has become a major focus of American life since 9/11. Industries, including steel mills and utility companies, require such measures as fencing that provides high security and anti-ram capabilities.

Danny S. Jones has guided his Hobart-based company Security Industries to success as a primary vendor for permanent perimeter and temporary construction site fencing as well as commercial and industrial overhead doors and dock equipment. Launched in 2003, Security Industries also offers maintenance, repair and installation services.

“Our business, our industry has changed greatly since 9/11,” says the 52-year old Schererville resident. “We were on the leading edge of that change. We moved at full speed into heavy security fencing and overhead doors.”

Security Industries’ clients include steel mills, refineries, utility facilities, water plants and construction companies.
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Stewart McMillan

(Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks.)

(Photograph by Jon L. Hendricks.)

“Together we accomplish great things.” For Stewart McMillan, president and CEO of Task Force Tips in Valparaiso, that’s more than a company slogan. It’s a personal and family philosophy.

“We do so little on our own and so much together,” McMillan says, reflecting on his family and company’s history.

Raised in Hobart, McMillan says he watched his father put in long hours as an engineer for U.S. Steel and as a volunteer firefighter in Gary.

As fire chief, Clyde McMillan knew a new nozzle design would help him and his crews in the field, so he sketched that design on a restaurant napkin in 1968. But the journey to get the nozzle to market nearly broke McMillan’s father financially and emotionally.

But, a bit of serendipity intervened during Clyde McMillan’s darkest hour. “At the time, fire departments across the country were downsizing, and they needed equipment with more nozzle strength, which Dad’s company produced. But he didn’t have the money to make them without an order,” McMillan recalls. “Frank Burke, the fire chief in Syracuse, New York, called Dad and told him ‘Send me an invoice and get those things made and here.’”
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Local tech company’s scanner to hit market

Ben Reinhart of Nesch LLC, works on a prototype of a patented technology called Diffraction Enhanced X-ray Imaging (DEXI) that detects objects, explosives, narcotics and other contraband in human body cavities, as well as outside, in 30 to 90 seconds. (Photograph by John J. Watkins/The Times.)

Ben Reinhart of Nesch LLC, works on a prototype of a patented technology called Diffraction Enhanced X-ray Imaging (DEXI) that detects objects, explosives, narcotics and other contraband in human body cavities, as well as outside, in 30 to 90 seconds.
(Photograph by John J. Watkins/The Times.)

While a suicide bomber passed through two scanners and then went on to injure a Saudi prince last year by detonating explosives inserted in his rectum, a local business was creating a scanner that would have detected the hidden bomb.

Nesch LLC, a firm located at the Purdue Technology Center in Crown Point, has developed a technology called Diffraction-Enhanced X-ray Imaging, called DEXI, which can detect contraband both inside and outside human body cavities in 30 to 90 seconds.

“Placing our security machines at airports and security gates will ensure dangerous materials are taken out of the control of terrorists who seek to inflict grave harm on the general public,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Ivan Nesch.
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No entry allowed

Gus Bock Ace Hardware store manager Tom Grill holds the No Entry NE 1000, a home security device designed by two customers of the Munster store, Sam Keith and Burt King. (Photograph by Tony V. Martin/The Times.)

Gus Bock Ace Hardware store manager Tom Grill holds the No Entry NE 1000, a home security device designed by two customers of the Munster store, Sam Keith and Burt King. (Photograph by Tony V. Martin/The Times.)

Two local entrepreneurs have developed a product they hope will help keep Americans and their valuables safe. Sam Keith and Burt King are debuting No Entry NE 1000, an unbreakable steel device that mounts under a door knob to keep” the bad guys” from entering.

The product will retail at local Ace Hardware stores at $49.95 beginning in mid-February.

“We think the majority of sales will be for homes and apartments,” said Tom Grill, manager of Gus Bock’s Ace Hardware in Munster, a store often frequented by Keith and King.

Grill, who is also the spokesman for duo, said the inventors, or “garage tinkerers,” were inspired to build the device in the wake of mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech and Fort Hood. They were also looking out for their own elderly parents at home alone.

“It’s instant safety even if the door is unlocked,” Grill said. “You can turn a bedroom into a safe room. It’s meant for front and garage entry doors but it could be used in hotel rooms, college dorms and apartments.”

The catch phrase for the product: “Lock the door from the knob to the floor.”

Unlike similar products, Grill said the NE 1000 works using “the laws of physics.”

“The harder someone pushes the door, the harder this thing grabs onto the floor,” he said.
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