Monday, August 31, 2015

ISO 14001 - Life Cycle Assessment

As previously discussed, ISO 14001 is currently in the Final Draft International Stage (FDIS), meaning that ISO members involved in the revision have been voting and commenting on the draft. This summer-long period for the update of the 2004 edition of the standard will conclude on September 2, in the same month of the standard’s expected publication. ISO 14001:2015 will mark several significant changes from its predecessor, due to a greater understanding of environmental management and an urgent need to respond to related issues accordingly. An important addition to the updated standard is the use of life-cycle assessment (LCA).

Life-cycle assessment was addressed in a recent post on the ISO Guide 64, in which it is used for the creation of products. However, the topic warrants further discussion, since it is remarkably important when it comes to proper environmental care. The four stages of the life-cycle are extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, use, and disposal. Each of these has the opportunity for pollution and environmental degradation.

Each stage of the life-cycle requires energy and resources to function. Acknowledgement of this fact is a step forward from past thinking, in which companies and policy makers primarily focused on energy and waste management during production, looking at things like pollution of streams. However, this perspective does not allow for proper environmental stewardship, since it overlooks the different outputs that can occur during a product’s lifetime. For example, creating public policy meant to limit the greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing of a product completely disregards the emissions that derive from the machines used to extract the material during the first stage of the product life-cycle. Also, by attempting to clean up waste that comes as a by-product of manufacturing, companies and policymakers glance over the environmental issues resulting from accumulation of discarded products after they are used.

Another important idea from LCA is prevention of burden shifting. Life-cycle thinking requires decision-makers to consider every stage involved with a product. A solution to one stage, while limiting the amount of environmental harm that can come directly from the processes of that stage, should not create new issues for another stage. A life-cycle mindset also involves recycling of anything used throughout the cycle, limiting any negative outputs and externalities. This allows for the life-cycle to repeat itself following the final stage, maintaining a closed system that has limited environmental impact.          

Properly following a sustainable model can lead to economic benefits as well. Some of the outputs used in an unsustainable life-cycle model can be more expensive than if they were completely avoided. Take for example, an electronics organization that does nothing to encourage proper disposal of their products at the end of their lifetimes, leading to large amounts of waste. Instead, the organization could encourage a special recycling program, which would allow resources to be reused, instead of having to expend time and energy to extract more metal. Also, preventing things like air pollution lowers any costs that would be needed to clean the air in the future.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Structural Welding Code Package for Steel and Aluminum

The Structural Welding Code Package for Steel and Aluminum details guidelines for the welding of any type of structure made from aluminum or steel structural alloys. Recommendations outlined in this package strive to create stability and durability for structures, while promoting worker safety during operations. It comprises two standards, AWS D1.1/D1.1M:2015: Structural Welding Code –Steel, which has recently undergone revisions, and AWS D1.2/D1.2M:2014: Structural Welding Code – Aluminum.

This package addresses the element with an atomic number of 13 (Al) as aluminum. This is because the featured standards were published by the American Welding Society. In the United States and Canada, the predominant spelling of the metal is “aluminum”, but this is not common throughout the globe. Standards like ONORM EN 576:2004: Aluminium and aluminium alloys - Unalloyed aluminium ingots for remelting – Specifications, SS-EN 13920-2:2003: Aluminium and aluminium alloys - Scrap - Part 2: Unalloyed aluminium scrap, and BS EN 15530:2008: Aluminium and aluminium alloys. Environmental aspects of aluminium products. General guidelines for their inclusion in standards all refer to Al as “aluminium”, as they are from Austria, Sweden, and Britain, respectively. Even we have acknowledged the potential variation of spelling of aluminum or aluminium in the past.

Neither spelling is technically incorrect, since one version is incorporated in American English, while the other is in British English, two intelligible languages that have some variation with one another. One might imagine that aluminium is the original form, and it was merely changed by Americans, similar to the dropping of the letter “u” in words like “colour”. However, this might not be a valid claim. Luckily, there is actually a pretty clear answer to this that might be able to settle any arguments on the words’ origins.

According to the World Etymology Dictionary, in 1808, English chemist Sir Humphry Davy originally called Al “alumium”. He took this from the word alumina, which had been given to aluminum/aluminium oxide at the time and was derived from the Latin alumen, meaning “bitter salt”. The original spelling of the element, alumium, isn’t even used today, so neither contemporary version can claim that title. However, Davy did later amend this to aluminum. It wasn’t until four years later, in 1812, when British editors further amended the word to aluminium, since it better harmonized with the pronunciation of other elements, such as sodium and potassium. It is clear that aluminum actually came first by a few years, but it was not as greatly-incorporated into language as the English-edited aluminium.

One of the most significant events involving aluminum/aluminium was the development of a low cost manufacturing process in 1886 that started the company that eventually became Alcoa Aluminum.  When aluminum was used to cap the Washington Monument in 1884, it was the world’s most expensive metal. Today, like steel, aluminum/aluminium is an inexpensive and widely-used metal in structural support and fulfilling other material needs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Revision of ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 - Eye and Face Protection Devices

There is significance to the human face that is universally noticed. The face contains a variety of features, all of which we care about greatly. This is because we have the ability to learn many different things from other people by simply looking at their face, such as identifying personalities, emotions, and even health issues. This is something unique to primates and perfected in humans. We can sense the direction where other people are looking by observing the whites of their eyes, and we can deduce another’s feelings and thoughts by the movement of their cheeks and lips. Some work activities can be harmful to our faces, damaging our ability to project our emotional status to be read by others. Potential threats span from eye and skin exposure from ultraviolet radiation to direct impact by foreign objects, debris or chemicals.

ANSI/ISEA Z87.1: American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices has recently been revised. This is a performance-oriented standard that is intended to eliminate eye and face hazards in occupational and educational settings. To accomplish this objective, the standard provides recommended guidelines for selection, use, and maintenance of the different face and eye protectors to promote the most effective materials and methods of use. This standard should be applied when the equipment is first placed in service, so that any applicable protectors will be stamped with the marking “Z87” to demonstrate that the meet the minimum guidelines laid out in the standard. Examples of these apparatuses include face shields and chin protectors.

The 2015 version of this standard is the first revision to be released since 2010. The 2010 revision was monumental, due to a shift towards being more hazard-based as opposed to the original product configuration requirements of the standard. The newly-released version serves to polish these changes, completing what was started in the previous edition. It also addressed issues related to the emergence of new technologies that were not previously covered in ANSI/ISEA Z87.1. For example, protectors known as “magnifiers” and “readers” that have lenses with magnifying properties are now incorporated in the standard.

According to the CDC, approximately 2000 eye injuries occur every day at workplaces in the United States. Proper face and eye protection reduce workplace injuries and permit safe operation in potentially dangerous endeavors. ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 protects the human face in these environments while remaining an up-to-date guideline by acknowledging any significant changes in the eye and face protector industry.

Pyroshock Testing Techniques

Browsing the ANSI Webstore can lead to some interesting things, along with some confusion when trying to understand what exactly a particular standard does, or even what the words in its title describe. For example, look at IEST-RP-DTE032.2: Pyroshock Testing Techniques, a standard by the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST), an organization that focuses primarily on the topic of contamination control. It is difficult to deduce exactly what this recommended practice refers to, especially if you do not know the meaning of pyroshock. From just looking at the word, it seems that it has something to do with fire and electricity, but that is not likely true. Whatever the case, it sounds remarkably intriguing, and it is worth some further exploration.

A pyroshock, which is also referred to as a pyrotechnic shock, occurs after there is an explosive event near a structure that leaves “a high-frequency and high-magnitude material stress phenomenon that propagates throughout the structure”. The example the standard gives of this is an explosive charge to separate two stages in a multi-stage rocket. These are classified as far-field, mid-field, and near-field pyroshocks, having varying impacts on a nearby structure depending on its distance from the explosive event.


Figure 1 from IEST-RP-DTE032.2 demonstrates the typical acceleration-time history for a pyroshock. It shows the initial pulse that comes from the explosion, followed by a calmer after-period.


A low-velocity pyroshock is rarely damaging to structural integrity and is generally considered mild. However, the high-frequency energy emissions are now known to harm electronic systems. IEST-RP-DTE032.2 is used to test any items or systems that must be able to withstand a pyroshock while they are in use. Different tests are necessary for the three classifications of pyroshock, with a near-field test requiring frequency control up to 10 kHz for amplitudes greater than 10,000 g, a mid-field test requiring 3 kHz to 10 kHz for amplitudes less than 10,000 g, and a far-field test requiring frequency control less than 3 kHz for amplitudes less than 10,000 g. These are dependent on the proximity of the structure to the source of the explosive event, and will provide data that can determine the potential impact.

The standard also provides calculations that can be used to target corrupted pyroshock data, which has been acquired in some laboratory environments and can lead to inaccurate testing. It looks in-depth at several other variables that could affect the impact of a pyroshock, recommending them to be considered during testing. Industries like aerospace and defense require technology that is in close range to explosive events. Being able to test structures and electronic systems prior to their use in direct proximity to these events is indispensable to predict their performance and durability.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Guardrails (Traffic Barriers)

There is an assemblage of standards for all kinds of automobiles, which have the ultimate goal of ensuring the safety of car passengers. Organizations that write these standards include the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Standards for car emissions pursue this same objective for safety, since they are intended to reduce the amount of environmental damage, which protects not only the Earth but all of the living beings that exist together in a larger ecosphere, including humans. Even with the most updated standards for automobile safety, there will still be car accidents. Machinery will be prone to human error. With automobiles being the safest they can be, securing the roads should be the next step. Guardrails, or traffic barriers, on the sides of the roads and in other areas, can limit the area in which damage can occur.


Guardrails need to be able to withstand the impact of automobiles of different sizes at varying speeds. Traffic barriers are defined by their function or stiffness, and their potential to hold back cars is dependent on these two qualities. One type of guardrail that is defined by its function is a median barrier. These are designed to prevent a vehicle from crossing into oncoming traffic and striking another vehicle head-on. This is incredibly important for highways, where drivers are moving at high speeds. These median barriers are generally made of cement, and are partially covered by the scope of ISO 16039:2004: Road construction and maintenance equipment - Slipform pavers - Definitions and commercial specifications. This standard deals with the creation and nomenclature of infrastructure crafted by slipform pavers. The slipform paver for the median barrier guardrail can create both the mold and the layers of concrete that are piled on top of it to make the structure.

Guardrails for traffic control are not just limited to the sides of the roads. Other than reducing damage in a car-car collision, guardrails can protect from damage to structures and property by automobiles and allow for safe pedestrian travel. These kinds of guardrails are placed outside of public places, such as industrial and commercial buildings.

Obviously railings are not unique to traffic barriers. Guardrails are very important for places where people are exposed to heights or other hazards. ASTM E2353-14: Standard Test Methods for Performance of Glazing in Permanent Railing Systems, Guards, and Balustrades sets recommended guidelines for glazed railings and related systems. This standard is meant to test the retention of any glass or glazed material. Glass is used in different types of rail, guard, or balustrade assembles to increase the safety factor of those systems. However, if this glass becomes broken, then its intended safety is greatly overshadowed by new threats to public safety. The standard’s testing procedures help to prevent this by recommending methods to gain knowledge on the durability of the glazings.

Aside from these two examples, standards by the American Welding Society are applicable to many of the tasks performed to craft metal rails. Guardrails of any kind can put anxieties of unknown danger at ease, whether you are driving down a highway or standing on an elevated balcony. While guardrails hopefully will not be needed, it is still important to be prepared for the worst possible scenario when safeguarding human life. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Specifications for Ceramic Tile

Ceramic is a material needed for the design of many different products and has been incredibly important throughout time, serving a variety of purposes. Ceramic materials have been used as early as 24,000 BC, predating agriculture by thousands of years. These had entirely aesthetic purposes, being used for figurines, but were later used for stylish pottery that acted as water vessels. They were also fashioned into tiles throughout prehistory, much like they are today. The most recent major development in the lifetime of ceramics occurred in the second half of the Nineteenth Century, when ceramic materials were adapted for electrical insulation.

Ceramic tiles in buildings enhance the attractiveness of those buildings. They do not significantly insulate the heat of a building, but they can cover up anything visually unappealing that is improving the R-value of the structure, such as fiberglass. Even though they are often misconceived as being naturally waterproof, they do not actually bear this quality, requiring glazing to make them less porous. Despite the fact that these tiles might not be serving a practical structural purpose, it is still essential that they maintain the best quality so that they do not degrade or take away from the overall completeness of the walls where they are placed. ANSI A137.1:2012: American National Standards Specifications for Ceramic Tile classifies different kinds of ceramic tiles by their shapes, sizes, and grades.  It also indicates the proper way to assess the ability for the tiles to resist water after they are properly glazed. The standard defines a tile as “a ceramic surfacing unit, usually relatively thin in relation to facial area, having either a glazed or unglazed face and fired above red heat in the course of manufacture to a temperature sufficiently high to produce specific physical properties and characteristics”. It covers almost provides information related to understanding ceramic tile for manufacturers, retailers, and even consumers.

ANSI A137.1:2012 was published by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), an ANSI-accredited nonprofit that develops standards for the tile industry. It has several other standards relating to ceramic and glass tiles. These include:


There are many other standards that contribute guidelines for the quality, safe use, and proper care of ceramic materials. ASTM International has published over 300 standards intended to assess the condition of ceramic materials before they are used in a product.

Traffic Control for Work on Roads

In a prior post about ANSI/ASSE 810.8-2011: Scaffolding Safety Requirements, we discussed a standard that is intended to protect both construction workers and pedestrians passing by structures as they are being built or remodeled. The main danger posed from this is that the buildings, while once complete, are being partially destroyed so that they can be enhanced in the future. This occurs with many kinds of construction and remodeling, and it exposes individuals to threats that they would regularly be buffered from. This is not unique to building construction.

Roadwork, much like maintenance on buildings, requires destruction of the material being worked, which can be either partially destroyed or in perfect condition prior to rebuilding. The intention with this deconstruction is to provide something that can enhance the future performance of the road, or to improve on something that is obstructed by the road but has no direct relation with it. For example, a recent storm could have damaged the pavement of the road and it needs to be filled in to reduce damage to car tires. There could also be gas pipes that can only be accessed through the road, which would require a perfectly fine road to be damaged and rebuilt. No matter how it is done, there will need to be a work zone. Traffic control work zones are covered in the Australian standard AS 1742.3-2009: Manual of uniform traffic control devices - Traffic control for works on roads.

Roadwork can lead to heavy traffic, especially on major roads. Roads are traditionally designed to achieve the most efficient traffic flow. This explains the traditional placement of stoplights and signs. Traffic delays can cause economic impact if this system is disturbed. Management of work zones can help to maintain some semblance of the proper movement of traffic. AS 1742.3-2009 establishes a set of guidelines that provide safety for drivers and construction workers, while taking into consideration the proper labeling of bike paths and walkways.

One of the primary differences between work on a building and work on a road is that the road often cannot be easily avoided. Sites containing scaffolding can be entirely separated from people, or pedestrians can walk through another road to reach their destination. On a road, sometimes the only other route involves traveling to extreme lengths. Creating easy accessibility for driving through work sites is one way to manage this unavoidable burden. AS 1742.3-2009 addresses this by recommending a competent person, who has been properly trained, to draft a traffic plan and install all signs and devices necessary to guide this procedure. Different scenarios in which this method can be executed are detailed in the standard.

Aside from traffic, provisions should be made for pedestrians, bicyclists, school children, and emergency vehicles. While these should minimize traffic and not limit public transport in any way, they need to retain regular safety conditions for all people. For safety of the workers, the standard recommends placing a barrier between them and oncoming traffic.

AS 1742.3-2009 is part of the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Other standards in this include:

AS 1742.8: Freeways
AS 1742.15: Direction signs, information signs and route numbering