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Region V's Toledo, Ohio Area Office Holds All-Ohio Foundry Days

To reach out to the foundry industry, the OSHA Region V Toledo, Ohio Area Office held an All-Ohio Foundry Day at the AK Steel Corporation Plant (a current OSHA Strategic Partnership Program participant) in Mansfield, Ohio on October 22, 2008. The purpose of the event was to share the findings from OSHA inspections with foundries so that their health and safety professionals would be better able to address specific industry hazards. A list of invitees was culled from compliance records, industry registers, and manufacturing guides; in addition, foundry representatives from Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio were invited and attended. A single mailing resulted in more acceptances than anticipated, so the Office held an additional Foundry Day, this time on November 6, 2008 for 89 staff members of the Ohio OSHA On-site Consultation Program. The Toledo Area Office often invites staff from the On-site Consultation Program to its outreach events to encourage consistency between enforcement and compliance assistance.

Topics covered at the Foundry Day included safety and health program management, arc flash and arc blast hazards, and injury reduction for material handling operations. Todd Jensen, Industrial Hygienist in the Toledo Area Office, presented OSHA findings from foundry inspections and focused on the hazards, personal protection equipment (PPE), and engineering controls of various foundry departments. The AK Steel Plant Manger and the Safety & Health Manager discussed the development of their PPE program. The open forum of Foundry Day encouraged discussion among the participants. For example, one attendee requested information about the correct PPE for a specific task. The presenter, the audience, and a PPE product representative all discussed the issue. Multiple suggestions for addressing it included combining various forms of PPE and researching individually made specialty items currently in use at some foundries.

Two invited speakers discussed specific areas of concern in depth. Robert Sterling, a certified industrial hygienist, explained safety and health management systems. His extensive experience in implementing these systems in the foundry industry and in designing them at various corporate headquarters enabled him to address the wide-ranging questions asked by the participants. Bob Nicholson, Electrical Designer/Arc Flash Specialist, discussed electrical arc flash and arc blast hazards, as well as the OSHA standards and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E standard. He addressed the concepts and hazards and then described each of the applicable standards and focused on how the 70E standard relates to the OSHA standards.

Toledo Area Office Assistant Area Director, Scott Feil, discussed ergonomics hazards in the foundry industry and described two projects. In the first project, managers at Wisconsin foundries worked with federal OSHA representatives to select and train volunteers (foundry employees) to identify ergonomic hazards. The participating foundries videotaped the volunteers as they and the Agency staff analyzed the possible solutions for the hazards. The second project, a Department of Energy funded project that took place in 2000-2002, involved the work of Iowa State University graduate students in Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering who trained foundry employees to identify ergonomic hazards. The foundry employees evaluated 113 jobs and estimated that 32 percent of the ergonomic hazards would be easy to resolve, 10 percent would be challenging to resolve, and 24 percent would be very challenging to resolve. In addition, their data revealed that 21 percent of the ergonomic hazards could be easily minimized but challenging to resolve, 9 percent of the jobs did not pose a significant ergonomic hazard, and 2 percent of the jobs were not justified and should be eliminated. During his presentation of the highlights of the projects, Mr. Feil noted the practical applications for standardized foundry tasks or routine operations. In addition, he presented "before and after" cost comparisons from the Wisconsin project, which showed that, in many cases, foundry ergonomic interventions were cost effective. An example was the installation of an $800 hydraulic-lifting device that eliminated the manual lifting of a 75-lb piece of equipment. In relation to previous injury rates/occurrences, this expense "paid itself off" (i.e., began to have cost benefits) after two weeks.

Attendees made the following comments on the feedback sheets: "I wish they would have had this kind of a program before OSHA visited my foundry." "Furnace PPE/Pouring PPE considerations were easy to understand." "NFPA training was great!" "Input from everyone here." In response to these and other comments, the Toledo Area Office is planning to hold another "Foundry Day" during September 2009.

For more information, contact Scott Feil.

As of June 2009.

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