Tempered Glass Saves Lives

June 1, 2020 in Injury, Safety

This past Sunday, May 31, 2020, marks another day in United States history where peaceful demonstrations and orderly civil disobedience were highjacked by unlawful activity leading to property destruction and theft. The author’s Bixby Knolls, Long Beach, California neighborhood was thankfully sparred wide-spread damage.

Tempered Glass

Tempered Glass Saves Lives

This article is not about the political reasons for the nationwide demonstrations.  Instead it concentrates on something that television coverage and social media have not reported. Specifically, how advancement in glass safety has reduced the number of people being injured due to broken glass.In fact, we will never know how many of the looters and bystanders, including police and national guardsman, were able to escape what could have easily been a significant number of bodily injuries from glass shards and glass debris used as weapons.

In the television broadcasts viewed by this author none of the glass storefronts being damaged or destroyed showed human blood from cuts by broken glass.  This is due to the major change in building codes decades ago requiring all commercial glass to be either of the wire safety type or tempered.  Again, from television broadcasts the evidence indicates that all the broken glass shown was of the tempered type.

Here is a short tutorial regarding tempered glass:

Tempered glass is also referred to as toughened or sometimes as fully tempered glass.  The glass sheets are heated to around 1,148℉. They then undergo a high-pressure cooling process called quenching.  This process, which only lasts between 6 to 10 seconds, blasts cool air from various positioned nozzles onto the glass surfaces which cools the outer surfaces of the glass much quicker than the center. As the center cools down it tries to pull back from the outer surfaces resulting in the center remaining in tension while the outer surfaces go into compression which gives tempered glass its high strength. Tempering can also be achieved with chemical treatment but it is far more expensive than quenching and not widely used commercially.

When damaged tempered glass breaks into smaller granular pieces (as can be seen in the image taken of one of the targeted stores near the author’s home) as opposed to large jagged shards of non-tempered glass.  These smaller granular pieces are less likely to cause bodily harm.  The high strength of tempered glass and its high safety record is why you also see it being used in shower and tub glass enclosures, microwave ovens, refrigerator trays, glass table tops, and more.

We can all be thankful to the scientists, engineers, and the many manufacturers of glass products for making our communities safer.

Workers Memorial Day

April 29, 2020 in COVID-19, OSHA, Safety

April 28th is the Workers Memorial Day. Not to be confused with Labor Day which is normally celebrated the first week of September.  The Workers Memorial Day is a day to acknowledge the contributions made each and every day by those workers who suffered fatal injuries in all fields and industries.

The United States Labor Department release the following statement. It does not specifically recall those who have perished due to the COVID-19 pandemic but they are certainly included in our hearts and memories.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Statement Commemorating Workers’ Memorial Day

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today commemorated Workers’ Memorial Day with a joint statement from U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Loren Sweatt.

“Workers’ Memorial Day is a day for us to join together in remembering those who have lost their lives while doing their jobs,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said. “As we memorialize workers who have lost their lives, we are mindful of the U.S. Department of Labor’s important role in working with employers and workers to create a national culture of safety. We are dedicated to working diligently every day to keep American workers safe and healthy on the job.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt added, “As we commemorate Workers’ Memorial Day this year, millions of Americans are working around-the-clock to save lives and provide critical services for those in need throughout the country. OSHA remains committed to the goal that every worker should return home at the end of each workday, safe and unharmed.”

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.


Machine Guarding

January 3, 2020 in Hazard, Injury, Machine Guarding, OSHA, Safety

Industrial and manufacturing plants and assemblies are closely associated with machine guarding as an element for protection of workers and those around them.

Machine guarding is one of the essential elements that concerns industrial and manufacturing plants. Machines that fall into the category of guillotine cutters, shears, alligator shears, power presses, milling machines, power saws, jointers, forming rolls and calendars, and various portable power tools are just some of the basic machines that require guarding. 

In California Cal-OSHA machine guarding requirements are found under Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders, Group 8. Points of Operation and Other Hazardous Parts of Machinery 

Article 54. Scope and General Definitions, Section 4184 which states the following:

(a) Machines as specifically covered hereafter in Group 8, having a grinding, shearing, punching, pressing, squeezing, drawing, cutting, rolling, mixing or similar action, in which an employee comes within the danger zone shall be guarded at the point of operation in one or a combination of the ways specified in the following orders, or by other means or methods which will provide equivalent protection for the employee.

(b) All machines or parts of machines, used in any industry or type of work not specifically covered in Group 8, which present similar hazards as the machines covered under these point of operation orders, shall be guarded at their point of operation as required by the regulations contained in Group 8.

Exception: Microtomes (also called histotomes or cryostats) when guarding as required in Section 4184 is infeasible and the microtome is used, operated and maintained in accordance with Section 3558 of these Orders. For the purposes of this Exception guarding as required in Section 4184 is infeasible under circumstances that include, but are not limited to the following: there is no point-of-operation guard commercially available for an employer’s microtome.

Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code.

Similar language is found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines for machine guarding Section 1910.212(a)(1):

Types of guarding. One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods are-barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices, etc.

It is important to note that machine guarding alone is not sufficient when maintaining any equipment.  Proper Lockout, Tag-out, or Block-out protocol must be followed.  A July 2019 publication by Cal-OSHA noted the following:

Failure to lockout, tag-out, and block-out (LOTO) machinery before working on it is a major cause of serious injuries and deaths. Workers can be electrocuted, suffer severe crushing injuries, and lose fingers, hands, and arms because machinery is inadvertently turned on while it is being cleaned, repaired, serviced, set-up, adjusted, or unjammed.

(For more information see Cal-OSHA Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders, Group 2. Safe Practices and Personal Protection, Article 7. Miscellaneous Safe Practices Lockout / Tag-out / Block-out, Section 3314)

The author started to work with heavy machinery dating back to the early 1970’s.  The nearly 50 years of hands on experience, numerous installations, and scores of investigations, in addition to certifications and licenses, has provided the type of experience that allows the author to provide expert opinions regarding machine guarding and other industrial safety topic. 

Safety Engineering

October 22, 2019 in Safety, Safety Engineering

The California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologist does not mandate a license for those of us who conduct safety engineering.  So how do we justify calling ourselves safety engineers.

To put the controversy to rest we submit the following legal definitions:

Safety Engineering – California Code of Regulations Title 16, Division 5, §§400-476 “…is that branch of professional engineering which requires such education and experience as is necessary to understand the engineering principles essential to the identification, elimination and control of hazards to people and property; and requires the ability to apply this knowledge to the development, analysis, production, construction, testing, and utilization of systems, products, procedures and standards in order to eliminate or optimally control hazards. The above definition of safety engineering shall not be construed to permit the practice of civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering”

Since there is no requirement for licensing of a safety engineer, qualification for the title must rely on meeting the above definition. Such experience goes hand in hand with the legal definition of who is an expert, as noted next.

Expert – Federal Rules of Evidence – Rule 702 – defines an expert witness as a “witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education…” 

Expert –  Blacks Law Dictionary defines an expert as “One who is knowledgeable in specialized field, that knowledge being obtained from either education or personal experience” with a further definition, “One who by reason of eduction or special experience has knowledge respecting a subject matter about which persons having no particular training are incapable of forming an accurate opinion or making a correct deduction”. 

These recognized definitions are all consistent with the requirements of a safety engineer. Though it may be obvious, it is important to state that a safety engineer is limited to doing safety engineering within their field of experience, knowledge and training. Someone who does safety engineering related to medical facilities may not necessarily qualify to provide safety engineering related to aviation unless that person has the same level of knowledge in both fields.

Pacific Injury and Safety Experts, with nearly 49 years in the fields of construction, general industry, insurance, and personal injury is confident that the definition of safety engineering applies to our services and we look forward to providing those services to our clients.