DIS-TRAN Steel Blog

Steel Structures Can be a HOT Business

Posted by Wendy Gintz on Jul 17, 2015 3:00:00 PM

I just got back from vacation and it was HOT.  I started thinking that this must be the hottest time of the year for most of us.  It got me wondering about the Safety of all the folks out there in the manufacturing industry. I went to the best source I know, Tim Adam with DIS-TRAN Steel.  Grant it, I work in an office (thank goodness), but I work with a bunch who do not get the luxury of air conditions and fans.

In the Utility Industry you have a vast array of people doing outside labors.  Contractors erecting structures, truck drivers loading/unloading trucks, field project folks supervising as well as the steel fabricator and manufacture the steel structures (this one hits close to home).  It’s important to remember that Safety must come FIRST, no matter what you’re doing.

When it's hot, drink plenty of water!

 Below is a list of Heat Related Illnesses:

  1. Heat Stroke - is the most serious form of heat injury and is a medical emergency. Heat stroke often occurs as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion. But it can strike even if you have no previous signs of heat injury. Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Although heat stroke mainly affects people over age 50, it also takes a toll on healthy young athletes. The hallmark symptom of heat stroke is a core body temperature above 105° Fahrenheit. But fainting may be the first sign.  If you suspect that someone has heat stroke -- also known as sunstroke -- you should call 911 immediately. Until help arrives, move the victim to a cool area and remove excess clothing. Fan and spray them with cool water. Offer sips of water if the victim is conscious.

    It is important to hydrate your body well prior to being subjected to hot work environment. Drink and eat a well-balanced meal the night before and have a good breakfast prior to a work shift. Fruit and fruit juices are good to help hydrate your body and restore electrolytes. Do not consume energy drinks as they are full of sugar and your body has to work harder to digest them. Gator aid and Power aid help restore electrolytes but need to be consumed in a 1 to 3 water bottle ratio to help prevent kidney stones. Watch the color of your urine. If it is bright yellow, you are not consuming enough water.

  2. Heat exhaustion - can occur after you've been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have become dehydrated. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness, headache and fatigue.  Although heat exhaustion isn't as serious as heat stroke, it isn't something to be taken lightly. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs, and even cause death. If you, or anyone else, have symptoms of heat exhaustion immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If you can't get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place.

  3. Heat cramps - are painful, brief muscle cramps. Muscles may spasm or jerk involuntarily. Heat cramps can occur during exercise or work in a hot environment or begin a few hours later. Heat cramps usually involve muscles that are fatigued by heavy work, such as calves, thighs, and shoulders.  Painful cramps occur in the arms, legs, or stomach while on the job, or later at home. Move to a cool area at once if cramping is experienced. Loosen clothing and drink cool water or an electrolyte replacement beverage, such as Gatorade®. Seek medical aid if the cramps are severe, or don't go away.

  4. Dehydration - occurs when the loss of body fluids exceeds the amount that is taken in. With dehydration, more water is moving out of our cells and bodies than what we take in through drinking.  Along with the water, small amounts of electrolytes are also lost. When we lose too much water, our bodies may become out of balance or dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to death.  See the Dehydration Urine Color Chart help identify whether you may be dehydrated or not.  Click here

As a quick resource OSHA has Quick Cards with valuable information for quick references.

Osha3154Card

Working or playing in a hot environment puts stress on the body and when combined with physical work, loss of fluids or fatigue it could have detrimental effects.  WATER is crucial and remember to not push yourself beyond your limits.

At DIS-TRAN Steel, we have made it a priority to educate and remind all of our employees the symptoms and prevention techniques.  Our Safety Manager keeps in contact with all the supervisors about weather conditions, heat indices, and conducts multiple heat related Tool Boxes.

How do you keep cool while working in a HOT environment?  We would love to hear from you so please use the comment section below.

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Tags: safety, contractors, steel fabricator

Proper Draining and Venting Provisions for Steel Structures

Posted by Brooke Barone on Aug 7, 2014 2:33:00 PM

Something that might be viewed as a small, insignificant venting hole on a 10,000 pound steel structure, if not well thought out, could really have an adverse effect on production.

These mistakes, big or small, can delay or even put a halt to jobs. It’s key that all along the process, from engineering to detailing and quality control, there are people in place who know what to look for. Once the structure gets delivered to the galvanizer it can become difficult and more costly to make modifications because plates might already be cut, or everything might be welded up.

When creating fabrication drawings for galvanized structures, it’s important, as well as valuable, to know proper draining and venting provisions for these steel structures. If adequate venting and draining holes are not provided, the structures can run into many problems.

5 Negative Effects:

1. Air pockets can form, causing structures to rust out from the inside

2. Excess galvanizing buildup

3. Lead to longer fabrication times

4. Welded plate can blow out, causing safety concerns

5. Poor coating

Not having adequate venting and draining holes can really have an intangible effect: it’s hard to put a dollar amount on what happens when a structure either doesn’t have proper venting, or one of the five stated above occurs. It’s usually not too hard to correct if it’s caught up front, but the further it gets in the process, and closer to the delivery date, is when the scrambling might start. All the man hours it takes to call the engineer on record to approve revisions, or contact customers, plant personnel, the galvanizer, etc. can really put a stop to production, causing low production numbers and possibly delayed shipping. (But working with a trusted steel fabricator, can help to avoid these issues.)

excess galvanizing buildup

Some standard shape structures, such as square and rectangular tube columns and beams, are hollow, so provisions need to be made in order to allow galvanizing to easily flow and coat the inside portion of the structure. Sometimes fabricators will provide a small bar with a removable cover plate, attached with two (2) small stainless steel self-drilling screws. However, if the customer doesn’t feel this is sufficient enough, then the next suggestion could be to use a thicker bar with drill and tap holes, and two (2) A307-TAP bolts.  Some might suggest the use of expanded metal, but excessive build up can take place, which is unsightly and also impairs vision into the tube, hindering the Quality Control Department from being able to adequately determine if interior galvanizing coating is sufficient.

Other standard shape structures like channels, wide flanges and angles, are solid, with just the outside receiving coating. Some issues that can arise with this are air pockets and excessive galvanizing buildup. For these shapes, you need to watch where stiffeners, connection plates and brackets are welded that could form large pockets of air as the section is dipped into the kettle. Tapered tubular structures are also hollow like square and rectangle tubes.

As a designer, you are always trying to find the balance of putting enough holes for galvanizing while not putting too many to affect the structural integrity of the steel member. For example, if dealing with corners in a square and rectangular tube, slots or holes can be provided near these corners to prevent air pockets from forming, which can decrease the amount of galvanizing coating in the area.

The more you understand how the member is lifted and dipped in and out of the galvanizing kettle, the better you can locate the venting and draining provisions.

For more information about galvanizing and how it works, click here to read past articles.

  Dive Deeper Into the Transmission World

Tags: standard shape steel structures, galvanized steel, steel fabricator, galvanized structural steel, rectangular steel tube, steel square tube

Why Galvanized Structural Steel Craves Proper Venting and Draining

Posted by Brooke Barone on Oct 23, 2013 3:39:00 PM

Something that might be viewed as a small, insignificant venting hole on a 10,000 pound structure, if not well thought out, could really have an adverse effect on production.

We all make mistakes every now and then; no matter if you’re on the engineer side, or project coordinator, quality control or detailing side, mistakes happen. But these mistakes, big or small, can delay or put a halt to jobs. I know it’s easy to sometimes overlook something when we’ve done it so many times to where we could practically do it in our sleep.  But nonetheless, you have to make sure to keep an eye out and to catch mistakes before it gets too far down the production line.

When creating fabrication drawings for galvanized structures, it’s important, as well as valuable, to know proper draining and venting provisions for these steel structures. If adequate venting and draining holes are not provided, these structures can run into many problems.

5 Negative Effects:

1. Air pockets can form, causing structures to rust out from the inside

2. Excess galvanizing buildup

3. Lead to longer fabrication times

4. Welded plate can blow out, causing safety concerns

5. Poor coating

It’s key that along the process, there are people in place who know what to look for or have an eye for knowing what will work when it goes to the galvanizer. But if it passes through the line of engineering, detailing, quality control and then is delivered to the galvanizer, it might be harder and more costly to make modifications. Plates might already be cut or everything might already be welded up, making it more difficult to modify.

Not having adequate venting and draining holes can really have an intangible effect. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on what happens when a structure either doesn’t have proper venting, or one of the five stated above occurs. It’s usually not too hard to correct if it’s caught up front, but the further it gets in the process and closer to delivery dates, is when you might start scrambling. All the man hours it takes to call the engineer on record to approve revisions, or contact customers, plant personnel, the galvanizer, etc. can really put a stop to production, causing low production numbers and possibly delayed shipping. But working with a trusted steel fabricator, can help to avoid these issues.

excess galvanizing buildup

Some standard shape structures, such as square and rectangular tube columns and beams, are hollow, so provisions need to be made in order to allow galvanizing to easily flow and coat the inside portion of the structure. Other standard shape structures, like channels, wide flanges and angles, are solid so just the outside receives coating, which means air pockets and excessive galvanizing buildup can form. For these shapes, you need to watch where stiffeners, connection plates and brackets are welded that could form large pockets of air as the section is dipped into the kettle. Tapered tubular structures are the same as square and rectangle tubes, in the sense of being hollow.

For standard shape and tapered tubular structures, using removable cover plates on the ends of beams is a good option instead of welding solid plates to the ends. This allows for faster flow through the member and more adequate galvanizing.

Now, also to keep in mind, ensuring proper venting doesn’t mean place a bunch of holes all over the structure, but rather strategically supply the venting and drainage provisions. For example, if dealing with corners in a square and rectangular tube, slots or holes can be provided near these corners to prevent air pockets from forming, which can decrease the amount of galvanizing coating in the area.

The more you understand how the member is lifted and dipped in and out of the galvanizing kettle, the better you can locate the venting and draining provisions. As a designer, you are always trying to find the balance of putting enough holes for galvanizing while not putting too many to affect the structural integrity of the steel member.

 

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Tags: standard shape steel structures, galvanized steel, steel fabricator, galvanized structural steel, rectangular steel tube, steel square tube

3 Rules to Make Electric Utility Contractors' Lives Easier

Posted by Brooke Barone on Sep 10, 2013 2:35:00 PM

Remember the game Messenger? It starts off with one person telling someone something, and then by the time it gets to the end of the line, it’s usually either off by a few words or completely wrong. I’ve always wondered why that happens…

But from experience, I think I can chop it up to holes in communication. Sometimes we only hear what we want to hear.

In the grand scheme of things, every steel fabricator would like to believe that they are the best- the most reliable, the most efficient, and as true as that might be, sometimes communication gets lost. There are so many “messengers” that hear and deliver important information all the way from the customers, to the contractors, steel vendors, truck drivers and so on, that if the line of communication falls short, it could have a huge effect on the entire project.

And to narrow in a little further, electric utility contractors are the ones who ultimately have to deal with these issues when they arise. When dealing with larger projects, coordinating scheduling, materials, safety procedures, etc. can be very time consuming, but it is also very important.

electrical substation

So what are some of these communication issues, and how can they be solved? Well, I don’t have all the answers since every project is unique, but I do have three suggestions to help improve communication flow between all parties involved to make for a smoother process from start to finish.

  1. Have a clearly defined scope of work.
  2. A set schedule agreed upon in writing from all parties involved.
  3. Well documented customer requests and the means to relay those requests downstream to the different departments like engineering, detailing, shipping, etc.

Depending on when the structures are scheduled to go up, like during outages, material should be checked to make sure that everything is ready to go before the allotted window of time. It might also be a good idea to do inventory checks before the scheduled time to ensure that all the correct pieces are there like hardware or number of poles.

Another communication-must is when tying on to a structure that is already in place. Sometimes it’s not clear if the structure needs to be replicated or upgraded to new codes, and if so, the engineer needs to know if they are responsible for upgrading the entire structure or just the part they are designing.

Having the correct, most up-to-date drawings on site is also very critical. Think about when you’ve tried to put together a desk or a toy car: you need the directions not only to show you the final outcome, but to also follow all the steps required to do so.

During the design phase, if equipment changes, it is crucial that cut sheets get updated so that the engineer can design the structures accordingly so certain things, like holes, can align. If holes misalign or poles don’t fit, it can really put a damper on the entire project.  This usually goes down a long line of communication- from the contractor, to the engineer and then to the detailing department.

Another issue that seems to cause a slight headache is trucks showing up to the jobsite unannounced. It’s important for the fabricator/truck company to call the contractor onsite in advance to make sure they are aware that the material is on the way, and that they are ready and have room for it. It can really throw a morning off if a truck shows up with a couple thousand pounds of steel and either not have enough space to drop it off or not enough manpower to unload it. And while on the topic of shipping, it’s also important that the truck driver is aware of what proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they should have on when delivering loads. 

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Tags: steel structures, steel fabricator, electric utility contractors, utility contractors, define scope of work, steel vendors

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