The tools of any trade can pose safety risks if improperly used or maintained. To keep operators of hot-air hand tools and automatic walk welders safe, it is the responsibility of employers, supervisors and peers, to make sure proper precautions are routinely taken.
Following are 8 tips you can use to help keep Leister equipment operators safe:
2. ReviewM.S.D. Sheets—Plastics Magazine recommends reading the material safety data (M.S.D.) sheets of the plastic your welding. Among other things, these sheets are required to detail the plastic’s hazardous ingredients, fire and explosion hazard information, preventative actions, and first-aid recommendations. Request these sheets from the plastic manufacturer.
3. Train Employees—Train all personnel on how to properly use the welder(s) they will be operating. Specifically, demonstrate how to turn the welder on, run it, shut it down, clean it after use, and what to do in the case of a malfunction or emergency—for example, if a drive motor shuts down while welding or if plastic material catches fire.
4. Store Properly Between Uses—After completing a weld, an operator may set down the hot-air tool, or leave the walk welder to prep for the next weld. Because the machine will still be hot and likely blowing hot air, make sure to do the following:
Hot-Air Hand Tools—Set the tool on a flat surface where it won’t roll, or in a stand with the nozzle pointed away from the surface. Also keep the hot-air stream and nozzle away from flammable materials and body parts to avoid the risk of fire and burns.
Automatic Walk Welder—Secure the welding nozzle in the up, locked position, and move it away from heavy traffic areas and flammable materials.
5. Clean Work Areas—Remove any clutter from the work area to ensure a full range of movement. This helps the operator avoid knocking over or spilling anything that may damage the plastic material, catch fire, or require an immediate cleanup. Hastily setting down the tool to clean messes can lead to improper storage between use.
6. Clean Plastic Surfaces—Remove any contaminants that may be on the plastic being welded, including grease, oils, dirt and moisture. These contaminants may be fire risks or cause the plastic not to weld at all, possibly leading the operator to turn up the heat to unsafe levels to attain a weld.
7. Properly Maintain the Tool—Scrape away melted plastic after each use, and clean air filters of dust and contaminants to ensure the tool receives the proper air supply. Both of these issues can lead to heat backup and overheating. In addition, make sure to replace any frayed or sliced electrical cords to avoid accidental shock.
8. Wear Proper Attire and Equipment—Make sure all operators are wearing the proper protective equipment (PPE) to limit exposure to heated air and surfaces, as well as any airborne plastic or debris. PPE should include long sleeve shirts, pants, gloves and protective eyewear. In addition, depending on the plastic being welded and ventilation, a respirator may be necessary.
What more should companies do to protect their employees operating hot-air hand tools and automatic walk welders? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Parapets are wall-like barriers surrounding the edge of a flat roof, as seen on many commercial buildings. These half-walls serve many purposes, including:
Fire Protection—Stop flames from climbing up the side of a building and catching the roofing membrane on fire.
Fall Protection—A guardrail around the roof’s edge to help prevent falls.
Wind-Uplift Resistance—Balances wind pressure to prevent the roofing system from pulling away from its surface.
Aesthetics—Hides roof surfaces from view.
Unfortunately, these architectural features can prove challenging for contractors charged with seam welding a single-ply, thermoplastic membrane along the parapet’s vertical surface. Unlike flat, horizontal surfaces, there are no automatic welding machines—like the Seamrover DD—that can effectively weld these seams at high speeds.
Traditionally, vertical seams are welded using a hot-air hand tool. While effective and better for hard-to-reach areas, it is time-consuming work. A viable alternative is to use a semi-automatic hand welder.
Following are best practices to remember when welding single-ply seams on vertical parapet surfaces, or any vertical surface for that matter.
Semi-Automatic Hand Welders
Most semi-automatic welders are lightweight and easy to hold against a vertical surface. These welders are self-propelled, so the operator’s job is to simply guide it along the seam edge and ensure it lays flat against the surface.
When using a semi-automatic hand welder on a vertical surface, keep the following best practices in mind:
Always perform a test weld. Perform a test weld to make sure your heat, air volume and speed settings are correct for the material and environmental conditions (i.e. ambient temperature, moisture, humidity and direct sunlight). If possible, perform this test weld on a vertical surface to ensure you also have the proper welding technique.
Do not push or pull the machine. Do not push or pull the plastic welder. This can affect weld quality by either applying too much heat to the material—over liquefying and damaging it—or too little—not liquefying the material enough to form a strong bond. Let the welder propel itself, and simply guide it along the seam.
Press the machine firmly against the surface. Press the welder firmly against the vertical surface to ensure it moves steadily along the seam and that even pressure is being applied throughout. To do this, always hold the tool with both hands—one on the heat source handle, and the other on the guide handle.
Use a guide aide. For vertical seams that travel parallel to the roof’s surface, look for a semi-automatic welder with a guide aid. These accessories roll along the roof surface, helping to keep your welder at a consistent height, and inline with the seam.
What are some other recommendations you have for welding vertical seams with a semi-automatic welder? Please share in the comments below.
Ken Paine, president of Industrial Heat Sources, was honored with a Visionary Award at the 2012 Smart BusinessInnovation in Business Conference held on September 20, 2012. Ken was one of four Northeast Ohio business leaders to be presented with this career-achievement recognition.
Visionary Awards are presented to business leaders who have demonstrated a history of innovative ideas throughout their careers, or have developed cutting-edge processes and products. Ken was recognized for the award largely due to his focus on customer service, product innovation and unique tolerance for risk. Read about why Ken was selected by Smart Business for this award.
In his acceptance speech, Ken offered a word of advice to fellow entrepreneurs: “Always do what you know to be right, and if you err, make sure it is to the benefit of the customer. When all else is equal, you can stand apart from the competition and grow a business by treating customers with respect, fairness and world-class service.”
In the article, Ken compares the process of seam welding modified bitumen with open-flame torches and hot-air equipment. He then points out (with supporting resources) how a switch to hot-air can help contractors complete projects more quickly, improve the quality of work, avoid safety hazards and boost productivity.
According to Ken, "In roofing, profitability and growth are contingent on completing roofing projects in a timely and efficient manner, and delivering consistent, quality work. Making the switch from open-flame torches to hot-air equipment to install modified bitumen is one small step you can take today to help in these pursuits."
We are excited to announce that IHS was recently recognized as a 2012 World-Class Customer Service Honoree.
Hosted by Smart Business, the World-Class Customer Service Awards honor Northeast Ohio companies who have made the commitment to delivering the highest level of service and support, and who regularly go above and beyond to exceed customer expectations.
Honorees were selected by a panel of judges, composed of world-class customer service sponsors, who evaluated nominees on their philosophy, systems, promises and culture.
To be considered, IHS had to submit four essays describing, among other things:
How we make service one of our core competitive advantages.
The systems we have in place to allow for the delivery of world-class customer service.
How our customer service transcends the physical products we sell.
Our training programs and the ongoing education requirements for employees.
We are honored by the judge’s selection of IHS as a 2012 honoree. Unparalleled customer service has always been a cornerstone of our business, and this award helps to validate the effort and commitment we continue to make every day.