Filed under: Lighting, Security and Surveillance, Traffic Control and Safety, Workplace Safety
Under normal circumstances, the dark doesn’t bother me, but put a big chunk of darkness between all-by-my-lonesome me and my car in a semi-sketchy neighborhood, and then you’ve got something else altogether. A few years back, I spent 4th of July on the beach with friends in a city that has an incredibly swank little downtown district, which happens to back right up to the Atlantic. Unfortunately, said swank entertainment district had been carved out of some surrounding unsavory neighborhoods, which still had a reputation to be home to some… ummm… “interesting characters” during the after-hours time slot.
When I had arrived, parking was almost non-existent, and as a last resort, many visitors were leaving their cars on the street in the very outer reaches of safety. Everything looked okay in the bright sun, but that night, when the fireworks had ended and the crowds thinned, it was a long, dark and somewhat nerve-wracking walk back, alone, through some extremely dark, shadowy, and slightly-too-quiet side streets.
I’d have given anything to have a few more of these babies around.
Morris Small Wall Pack Lighting Units are designed to provide an extra measure of weatherproof, tamper-resistant safety lighting in both outdoor and semi-outdoor settings like parking garages, walkways, entry ways, loading docks, building perimeters, and anywhere else that danger can potentially strike in the dark. They not only help make the bad guys a little more visible, but also make it easier for pedestrians to see, and avoid, hazards or obstacles that may be in their paths.
Small Wall Pack Lights are available with High Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide lamps, and are UL 924 listed, so they’re safe for use even in damp or wet environments. They include knockouts that allow for optional installation over conduit, and can even be customized with photo sensors, so that they automatically turn on when it gets dark enough for you to need the extra light.
Ah, the old Exit Sign. That ubiquitous fixture in any public place, which both gets the attention of anyone looking for a way out, and has at the same time become the equivalent of visual white noise to anyone who leaves their house on a semi-regular basis. Exit signs are a paradox: we need them and do use them, but we also take them completely for granted, and never really give them more than a passing glance.
While I’ve always appreciated the presence of exit signs, I have to say that despite the important role they play, a lot of them, historically, haven’t been incredibly easy on the eyes. There’s nothing you can do about the blaring red letters – without them, emergency signage would be pointless. But the housings around those letters tend to be completely lacking in aesthetic appeal… design-wise, you really can’t get any more institutional.
That’s why I’m so happy that someone has finally given the tried and true exit sign a modern, and very stylish, makeover. The key feature is a sleek, minimalist aluminum housing that’s only 2 inches thick, and blends in beautifully with high-style decor, so it’s perfect for nice restaurants, high-end apartment buildings, boutique hotels, galleries, and just about anywhere else where emergency exit signs are necessary, but decor and ambiance can’t be sacrificed.
In addition to its improved outer appearance, this aluminum exit sign has been updated within, too, with long-lasting, energy-saving LEDs, which last much longer and use far less energy than the traditional incandescent signage bulbs that used to illuminate exit signs. There might be a few products that you wish would go back to the the way they used to be, but this definitely isn’t one of them.
Filed under: Cord Covers, Tools and Cases, Workplace Safety
Ever picked up a heavy-duty polyurethane cable protector? They’re heavy – sometimes really heavy. Depending on its width and the amount of “ramp” area it has, a typical cord protector can range anywhere from 20 to 100 lbs. Granted, for that type of product, heft is a definite selling point, because it means that the cord protectors aren’t going to be pancaked or pushed around when pedestrians and vehicles go over them. But think about the fact that you almost never need just one cable protector, and that they’re often used on a temporary basis.
Add it all up, and that means some serious cable protector hauling every time you need to set up, break down, or just change configuration. Not that having to break a sweat every now and then is a bad thing, but seeing as how most cable protectors are at lease 3 feet long, they can be a little unweildy to schlep, considering their weight. Moving more than one at a time is, in most cases, not advisable. Now, I know that there are a few people out there (I may or may not be one of them) who think that making multiple trips is lame, and would rather overload themselves in the name of efficiency than have to go back a second or third time. These people tend to end up in pain shortly after entertaining these thoughts. These people need to get a cable protector transport cart.
You heard me. The Yellow Jacket Cord Protector Cart. It can hold up to 12 of the biggest and baddest cable protectors at once, but lets you roll them from Point A to Point B in comfort, instead of juggling them like an idiot and sweating like a pig. And in the event that you just need to store the cord covers for a while instead of immediately setting them up in another location, the cart doubles as the perfect storage rack. When it’s time to put the cable protectors back in action, just wheel them wherever you need them. I hate to say it, but sometimes the “lazy” way really does end up being the smarter way.
Ever gotten to take a tour of a factory? It’s like watching Made in America or How It’s Made, just about a hundred times better because you can get up close and actually ask questions. You even get to put on safety goggles – it’s the complete experience. Since I’ve been writing about cable management, tech, and workplace safety, I’ve been lucky enough to visit 3 different manufacturing facilities on the East Coast, and see firsthand how they operate and crank out their respective products. It’s really cool.
One thing that I noticed in each of these places is how there are rows and rows of machinery, with each piece of equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars (at least). Between these rows of lasers cutters, press brakes and robotic lifters are aisles, down which forklifts often roam, delivering raw materials, carting away finished components, and traveling to and from the storage mezzanines. Here’s the thing: what if one of these zoomy little forklifts goes off-course and accidentally “bumps” into one of those machines? A big, fat repair happens, that’s what. And so, there are a couple of useful products known as bollard posts and machine guards.
Even if you haven’t been to a plant, you’ve probably seen them somewhere before. They’re all the rage in parking lots and near loading docks, where they keep vehicles out of certain areas, and away from certain things. They’re those stalwart metal posts that mean business, and will leave a nasty dent in anything on wheels that decides to challenge them (that’s a good thing). Ever wondered how bollards and machine guards get so tough?
Well, for starters, if they’re made by Eagle Manufacturing, they’re made of 1/4 inch thick steel, covered in a baked-on yellow powder coat finish that says “look out!” but still manages to survive in the event of a vehicle run-in. Next, you can bolt them right into the ground or a concrete floor, so they aren’t going anywhere. And last – they’re hollow, so you can fill them with cement for extra staying power (ohhhh, so that’s what those caps are for). No one’s getting past these babies. Take that, renegade forklifts.
Filed under: Electrical, Fire Protection, Workplace Safety
I usually try to kick off my blog posts with an at least somewhat comical life observation, personal experience or childhood memory, but today I’m going to put all things quirky aside, and instead blog in all seriousness. Today, we’re talking about arc flash, an area in which I’m very grateful to have to no firsthand experience. In case you’re not too familiar with arc flash, it’s basically an industrial-strength electrical short that causes voltage from one conductor to spontaneously “arc” through the air to another exposed conductor. This arcing action can result in an extreme electrical explosion called an arc blast, which has the power to gravely injure, or even kill, anyone who happens to be nearby.
The explosion can generate a pressure wave that packs thousands of pounds per square inch, as well as temperatures up to 35,000°F. Force and temperatures of this magnitude can mean broken bones, collapsed lungs, ruptured eardrums, concussions, extensive third degree burns, and even damaged eyesight – and that’s if you’re lucky and it doesn’t just kill you on the spot. Arc blast can easily become personal tragedy, and there are electrical workers who face the risk of it every day.
Thanks to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and OSHA, electrical workers are now required to wear a range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and flame retardant (FR) clothing to decrease their risk of injury should an arc blast occur in an area in which they’re working. Standard items of arc flash clothing include FR shirts, pants, and coveralls, arc flash hoods, face shields, safety goggle, ear protection, insulating rubber and leather gloves, and dielectric footwear made of rubber and/or leather. But while most arc flash PPE is intended to be worn, there’s one protective measure that you don’t actually put on: the arc protection blanket.
Arc protection blankets are generally made of heavy-duty canvas, and are intended to create a barrier between the arc explosion and the worker. Depending on the room or vault that the work is taking place in, arc protection blankets can either be suspended in various ways, or hung up against a wall. They’re particularly good for work in underground vaults, where they can be arranged like a makeshift funnel, to direct blast energy up and out of the chamber. Arc blast blankets not only have the ability to direct blast flow, but are also able to absorb impact and contain flames to a certain degree. And while they may not be completely foolproof (nothing is, when it comes to arc flash), when used in conjunction with regular arc flash PPE, they can leave you a lot better off than you’d be if you hadn’t used one.
Call me a kook, but whenever I see or hear about the old noggin-mount flashlight, I automatically think “crusty Old West miner.” You know, the kind of bent, grizzled old loner with a tobacco-stained beard and floppy hat that hides out in old mine shafts and tries to keep wandering tourists or kids away from the yet-to-be-found-nuggets (the gold kind, not chicken) that he has yet to lay claim to? The kind of guy who rides down rickety subterranean tracks in ore carts, with only the beam of his trusty head lamp to light the way?
Okay, apparently I spent way too many childhood summers mesmerized by the USA Cartoon Express and reruns of 1960s Disney live-action movies (albeit without any regret). It’s just slightly tainted my imagination, and maybe narrowed my mind as to actual uses for a head lamp. But I found out just last night that someone I know, and am in fact related to, actually owns and actively uses one.
Being a landlord, my father-in-law has no shortage of yardwork, both at his own house and his rental properties. Most non-winter weekends see him glued to a lawnmower and weed whacker, and if he’s not able to tame all the vegetation in his care on Saturday and/or Sunday, that usually means that he has to get his mow on on weeknights, after work. On a few occasions, darkness has begun to fall before the job was done, so he just fished around in his truck until he found his head-mount flashlight, then got right back down to business, without missing a beat. It’s also reported to have come in handy during more than one plumbing repair, when he’s had to crawl under sinks, but needed his hands free to wield tools.
A head lamp is starting to sound like a pretty cool idea, isn’t it? If you’re going to give it a go, I recommend the Pelican HeadsUp Lite, which is made just as much for hikers and campers as it is for handy types and pro contractors. You can choose from a Xenon or LED lamp, depending on whether you prefer intensely bright light or longer-lasting batteries, respectively. And whichever you choose, you’ll be automatically prepared to wear it directly against your cranium or around a hardhat with the two included cloth and rubber straps (both types are adjustable).
And here’s my favorite part: a special lens technology actually alters the color spectrum of the flashlight’s beam, so you see whatever’s in the light’s path with far greater sharpness, detail and clarity.
Filed under: Server Racks and Enclosures, Tools and Cases, Workplace Safety
Workplace safety isn’t limited to ergonomics, lockout/tagout and PPE – sometimes, it’s all about the storage. Take flammable materials… you can’t just leave them laying around or stack them in a corner somewhere. Aside from the obvious ignition risks, many fuels and flammable solvents can also cause chemical corrosion or damage to other materials, so the smartest and safest bet is to keep them well-contained in strategic areas of your facility.
As for what to actually keep them in, I suggest Flammable Storage Cabinets by Eagle Manufacturing. These double-walled enclosures provide an excellent buffer between hazardous flammables and the things that might set them off, such as sparks, open flame and high heat. And they’re just as good at keeping flammables in as they are at sealing ingnition sources out: a 2″ raised door sill keeps liquids from trickling out, even if there’s a leak or spill inside the cabinet.
Leveling legs and an all-around 1.5″ air cushion (remember those double walls I just mentioned?) keep vibration at bay, to prevent seals from loosening and containers from toppling over. As for warning workers of flammability risks, these Eagle enclosures are emblazoned with unmistakable safety warnings in 3 languages (English, Spanish, and French) to eliminate any confusion as to the cabinets’ contents and their potential dangers.
And there’s one other little thing that these help with: OSHA compliance.
If you’ve ever wanted to build your very own parking lot, now’s your chance. I’ve never thought of speed bumps and parking blocks as something you can just go and order online, but we’ve just added them to the website, so I guess you can! Personally, I have no immediate use for parking lot fixtures, but I think it’s pretty cool that they’re easily available if the need ever arises.
While most of us are used to speed bumps and parking stops being molded out of concrete or asphalt, these Eagle products add a neat new twist to things because they’re made out of high-density polyurethane, and are both movable and reusable. This makes them perfect for temporary parking areas at schools, parks, and special events – you can custom-configure them to plot out traffic flow and parking, so everything is safer and a little more organized.
And here’s another thing I like about Eagle speed bumps that you won’t see with the run-of-the-mill asphalt kind: they also do double-duty as cable protectors! Each speed bump has 2 cable channels molded into its underside, so if you need to run power cords or other types of cables across a vehicle path, it’s no problem. Just cover the cables with the speed bumps, and they’ll be protected from crushing while you, at the same time, limit vehicles to a safe speed.
A decade in South Florida may not have gotten me a tan, but it did something even better: desensitized me to the presence of reptiles. A random gecko or two in the house? No problem. An iguana lumbering across my front walk? Bring it on. And a giant, bright-green anole in the backyard mango tree? Awesome!
I feel so liberated that I can now sleep at night, even knowing that there may be a lizard loose in the house (true, those geckos may be tiny, but still: progress is progress). There’s just one problem: even though I’m finally able to harmoniously coexist with lizards, I still have a major aversion to snakes. I’m not even talking about the various Asian and African pythons that are slowly strangling the life out of the Everglades. I’m taking about garter snakes. They’re generally puny and pathetic as far as slithering wildlife goes, but they keep trying to sneak into the house through my side door, and at that I take great offense.
Ever since I found that baby garter snake hanging out in the middle of my hallway late one Friday night, I’ve begun cringing involuntarily at the sight of anything that’s black and yellow striped and has a tendency to arrange itself in a wavy, s-like shape. I shiver to imagine such things. But I think I may have found something that will get me over that…
Strangely enough, it’s a cord cover, but one of a most peculiar sort. You know how garter snakes are slithery and striped with black and yellow in a bad way? Well, the SideWinder Cable Protection System is both of those things as well, but in a very, very good way.
Most cord protectors are rigid, and have the tendency to run only in straight lines unless you connect them with specially-manufactured angles and bends. Every twist and turn you make is extremely deliberate, and you have to plan ahead and purchase accordingly for them. But what if you could protect ground cables with something that was both incredibly tough and flexible, that you could just snake around obstructions as needed, without any special planning or parts. You can, with the SideWinder.
The SideWinder system is made up of a long line of articulating 1.5″ segments, which are hinged together to form a single, continuous cord protector. Need to round a corner or work around a column, platform, or other obstruction? No problem – just bend the SideWinder to follow any path, no matter how full of turns it may be. It can even be customized for length: just snap on or remove extra pieces, and you won’t be stuck with too much or too little coverage. Talk about great cable protection that won’t cramp your style…
Ever wonder why it is that you generally never see people slipping and falling at the beach, or while they’re walking across nice, rough asphalt? Easy: traction. Sand and the rougher forms of concrete/cement are heavily textured (albeit in a low-profile sort of way). Because their surfaces are so varied, they’re able to grab onto the soles of your shoes and create gentle friction as you walk, so it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll go head-over-heels unless you really try to (but why would you even want to do that?).
But things are different as soon as you set foot on smooth surfaces. Because they have a higher polish and are generally far less porous, surfaces like tile, linoleum and sealed concrete allow your feet to almost slide over them, and can become downright dangerous with the addition of water, oil, and other liquids.
Common sense and careful foot placement are usually enough to prevent many slipping accidents from happening, but sometimes they’re just not enough. In environments like warehouses, loading docks, industrial facilities and stages, sometimes you have to just focus on the job at hand, without screening every single step you take. Fast-paced environments in which people are often rushing around while carrying things are in particular need of slip-proofing, and I know just the product for it: Pro-15 Anti-Slip Tape.
Best described as adhesive-backed sandpaper on a roll, Pro-15′s anti-skid tape is made up of abrasive-coated plastic film that’s backed by a super-aggressive adhesive. When you lay strips of this down along spill-prone walkways and the leading edges of stairs, it provides much-needed extra traction that helps to counter the risks of walking with your arms full, or not looking where you’re going. And while it’s not absolutely guaranteed to keep anyone right-side up, it does such a good job that it fits the bill for OSHA’s “slip protection in hazardous work areas” guidelines.
But don’t get the idea that this stuff is only good for workplace safety. If you’re in the habit of regularly puttering around the garage or descending into your basement with armloads of laundry, this may prevent a few painful and embarrassing mishaps. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking about laying down a few pieces on my tough-to-negotiate-by-feel basement steps, because as the old saying goes, better safe than sorry.