Monday, June 21, 2010

Don't Forget the EPA 608 Requirement

When a law has been on the books for so long, it's possible for it to be taken for granted, or even unknown to new maintenance managers. Since the mid-1980's, the government of the United States has required that all persons who open a system or container holding a controlled refrigerant must be certified.

Persons who work on stationary equipment or use refrigerant designed for these systems can become certified by passing a proctored EPA Section 608 examination. The most reputable HVAC training providers often provide this proctored testing for no or little charge in conjunction with regular maintenance training.

Candidates for this test can be certified in any of the three equipment categories below, plus Universal.

Type I - A Type I technician primarily works on small appliances such as domestic refrigerators, window air conditioners, PTAC's and vending machines.

Type II - Primarily works on equipment using a high pressure refrigerant such as HCFC-22. The equipment includes residential air conditioners and heat pumps, supermarket refrigeration and process refrigeration.

Type III - Primarily works on equipment using a low pressure refrigerant such as HCFC-123 or CFC-11. The units are primarily chillers.

Universal - Any candidate passing all three of these EPA types is certified as UNIVERSAL.

To pass any EPA type, the candidate must pass a CORE section, plus the desired Technician section. The test is four sections (CORE, I, II, III) of 25 multiple choice questions each. All must be passed to achieve UNIVERSAL. Each section is graded separately and a passing score is at least 70%.

No one would say this is an easy test. Study and preparation are required. And, again, a reputable HVAC course training company will often provide a study guide for the test upon enrollment. Require that from your trainer, and you'll have a certified team!

Friday, June 18, 2010

When Training Enters the Safety Equation

Doing things right is often the most cost efficient and safest way to go through life. Is there really any need for near daily workplace accidents? Is there really any need for expensive non-compliance fines? Is there really any good reason to avoid standards for equipment installation and use?

Too many injuries, too many deaths, too many fines, too many shortcuts by managers. And, that costs everybody more in the long run.

Some very basic training can go a long ways to helping out, also. At a low per person costs, knowledge is incredibly valuable. What, for instance, should every facility employee know about electrical safety? OSHA has an idea, and it is all spelled out by NFPA 70E and OSHA CFR 1910.331-335. A simple electrical safety training course based on that, helps fulfill the employer's obligation.

Electrical Safety Training should be designed to save lives and prevent injuries, as well as prevent damage to plants, buildings and equipment. Trainees need and can acquire an immense respect for the power of electricity. They need to be trained on personal safety for working on or around electrical systems and equipment, how to use proper materials and procedures working...and the potential consequences for themselves or others if they don't.

If you are considering training for yourself, or your team, be sure the course covers the following, at minimum:
How to identify electrical hazards
Definitions of "qualified" and "unqualified" electrical workers
Safe approach distances to exposed electrical conductors
Improvements in PPE
"Hot Work" rules
Working rules in wet spaces
Safety requirements for installations
Damage potential for people and equipment
How OSHA rules apply to the workplace
And, all about OSHA penalties and compliance

It just makes sense. And, it's the Professional way.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

If I Ran a Plant...

I would audit it. I would audit the operations, the personnel, the business climate, the business forecast, the hiring forecast, or even the shutdown schedule. And, at the very base of every one of those audit items, I would have a check-off box for training.

Because, if I don't have a workforce trained to do their jobs in a safe, productive and efficient way, I should close the doors. Many plants are doing just that now. Shutting their doors. For all types of reasons. And, even in that process, equipment and facilities left un-maintained are of little or no value, either for salvage or re-use later.

Because, if I don't have a workforce trained well for their tasks, I can't run an efficient operation. And, I can be selfish. If I can't run this thing well, why should anyone want me to run anything? But, everybody on the team benefits when the machine runs right.

Because, if I need to hire new people, I don't have time to wait for them to "get it." We need help now to keep this operation in form. Bring me trained people...or give me a way to get them trained...quickly and economically. Training is a faith...and great plant managers put their faith in training. Source it in, or source it out. But, source it!

Call an expert in facility maintenance training today! Here's one: 303-718-1365!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You Don't Need this Information... a Maintenance Pro reading your own blog. But, amazingly, many Maintenance Pros don't always have the luxury of hiring technicians already trained, already familiar with tools of the trade. One customer of American Trainco was contracting for Electrical Instrumentation training for his staff. But, he needed some very basic information before that. Here's an abbreviated outline for a course dealing with hand tool safety. Contact this blog for further content. It could save your day!

Craft Training Related to the Safe use of Hand Tools

Hand Tool Safety:

1. Introduction and Goals
a. Course Objectives.
b. Fundamental Safety Philosophies.
c. OSHA Regulations covering hand tools
d. Many Accidents Involve Hand Tools
8% of all compensable injuries each year
500,000 people injure their hands, wrists or fingers annually
One out of four "on-the-job" accidents involve hands, wrists, or fingers
e. Examples of hand tool injury and some probable causes
f. The Process of Hazard Recognition
2. Dress Codes
a. Your company’s dress codes and PPE requirements
b. Common Dress Code Requirements
3. Basic Rules for Hand Tool Safety
a. General Safety Precautions
b. Sharp Tool Safety
c. Gripping Tool Safety
d. Impact Tool Safety
e. Leverage Tool Safety
4. Hand tool safety videos and discussion
5. Introduction to Electrical Power Tool Safety (as time permits)
a. Electrical Hazards
b. Cord, Plug, and Cord Set Safety
c. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Requirements
6. Final discussion related to Hand Tool Safety
7. Question and Answer Session
8. Optional Written Test

Training is the surest route to Maintenance Proship!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Plant Maintenance Job Board Worth Checking

Go here to find a comprehensive and up-to-date listing of facility maintenance jobs. This site is managed by the Plant Maintenance Resource Center. And, as a Maintenance Pro, you will also need to know where best to look for training in maintenance subjects for yourself or your team. That's here. Good Hunting!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time to Get Back to Training!

Maintenance pros know that the best hedge against downtime is a well-trained workforce. But, that presents its own problems. Management wants everyone to be on the same page in an efficient operation. Companies that are large enough may have the luxury of having standard company-wide training programs or internal training resources. Most do not.

There are seminars held in many cities. More cities do not have seminars. On-line training is available in some subjects, but certainly not in all pertinent maintenance areas. And, frankly, most public training is just that…public and generic.

Six Solid Reasons to Bring Specialized Maintenance Training to the Plant

Management needs to listen to Maintenance when it comes to selling the value of on-location training. And, Maintenance needs to be armed with the selling points when on-location training is considered.

First, a training supplier should endeavor to find out specifically what matters to the facility, the skill levels being dealt with, specific equipment of concern and the training outcome expected.

Secondly, with on-location training, an infinite number of subjects exist or can be created. Maintenance may think that some electrical troubleshooting is needed, when the real need is for preventive maintenance.

Third, maintenance should expect an instructor to get his hands dirty with real life walk-thru and hands-on training exercises, on the equipment at the facility.
Fourth, having multiple technicians needing training can be an opportunity to get “everyone on the same page” as mentioned. Class sizes are generally flexible with hands-on sessions best around 15 people and lecture subjects good for larger groups. Your trainer should make those recommendations.

It is never easy to get an entire crew together. Vacations, sick days, shifts. When the training comes to a facility, though, timing is up to the customer. Even the graveyard if necessary! Or, that necessary wait until downtime or August.

And, lastly, the cost. Management may balk at a price tag…until they realize that training like this, besides the above benefits, usually works out to be far less than a per person cost for seminars, travel, time away, etc.

As the economy ramps back up, worker training and efficiency need to keep pace.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Troubleshooting!

Poking around on the Internet led us to an incredible web-site...all about troubleshooting. Steve Litt has maintained this site for a number of years. His technical background lends itself well to any troubleshooting task. Whether it's your building electrical system, the HVAC plant, or your home computer, Steve lays down an awful lot of common sense.

Go here to read and learn about the "Common Troubleshooting Myths." They will then lead you to the always applicable "10 Step Universal Troubleshooting Process." This is one fascinating web-site. Enjoy it!

And, by the way, thinking of Electrical Troubleshooting, American Trainco has a great solution. Check out this course for seminar sign-up, or to arrange this training at your facility. Thousands have!