Thursday, July 30, 2015

Guide for Addressing Environmental Issues in Product Standards (ISO GUIDE 64:2008)

Natural climatic shift has driven the Earth through many geological epochs. It has often been accepted that we are in the Holocene (meaning “entirely recent”), an era that began 11,700 years ago after the end of the Pleistocene (the “Ice Age”). The shift between these periods marked significant change, in which entire landscapes were altered and many different species suffered extinction. Similar environmental changes have been occurring for the past several hundred years. From these changes, certain groups believe that we should acknowledge that we are no longer in the Holocene, but in the early "Anthropocene". This refers to how the Earth has been directly altered by humans through processes of pollution, habitat destruction, and unsustainable extraction of natural resources. Whether or not our nomenclature should change, there have been some indisputable human-driven impacts. Even though a significant amount of damage has been done to nature, we still live in a society that requires the use of many materials and processes that have been responsible for environmental destruction. ISO GUIDE 64:2008: Guide for Addressing Environmental Issues in Product Standards confronts the potential for environmental damage in the creation of products.

A significant amount of environmental degradation has come from industry. The EPA estimates that industry is responsible for 21% of the United States' annual carbon dioxide emissions, which is only a component of the overall annual industrial pollution. Standards written for products specify guidelines to establish their durability and purpose. Creation of products can lead environmental degradation at every stage of the product life-cycle, including extraction of resources, production, distribution, use, reuse, and final disposal. The ISO GUIDE 64:2008 sets recommendations for standard writers when drafting product standards, addressing every stage of the life-cycle. It is intended to limit any kind of environmental damage that can occur.

All stages of the life-cycle process can cause environmental damage. For example, the initial stage of the life-cycle is gathering raw materials, which are processed into a product’s components. Not only can the extracted resources be depleted, damaging the local ecosystem, but the tools used for extraction can cause climate and water pollution by energy usage and improper waste disposal. ISO GUIDE 64:2008 recommends limiting any sort of external pollution during this stage.

A harmful practice of environmental policy in the past has been the use of cost-benefit analysis to determine if a policy is viable. In this method, if the benefits of something outweigh the costs, it is seen as having a positive net benefit, making it worthwhile. However, when used to manage environmental health, this can lead to a significant amount of damage. ISO GUIDE 64:2008 instead recommends the use of the precautionary principle. Under this method, if the potential environmental damage from a process is uncertain, then that process should be postponed until more knowledge is readily available.

It is important to think environmentally about all stages of the life-cycle process, and always make sure that a change in one stage of the product’s life-cycle does not negatively affect another stage or introduce another externality. An example the standard gives for this is the replacement of solvent cleaning by hot water and air blowing processes, which results in increased energy use during production. This change, while preventing pollution of water and land from the solvent, would increase the amount of energy used to produce the hot air, which would pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, solving one environmental problem but creating another. ISO GUIDE 64:2008 also recommends recycling of all materials used for products. The main objective of the standard is to encourage continuous use of a sustainable product life-cycle.

There are many challenges that must be faced in the near future for issues related to climate change, resource overuse, and environmental destruction. Standardization of sustainable techniques in production is good place to start for a cleaner planet that is beneficial to both the natural and artificial world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ANSI/ASSE A10.8-2011: Scaffolding Safety Requirements

Cities are constantly-changing entities, replacing people, buildings, and infrastructure. The first requirement often needed for this change is destruction. Older buildings must be demolished to provide space for new ones. Scaffolding serves as bandages to mark these changes, covering buildings and areas that are in a transitional phase. Once these scaffolds are removed, they reveal something newer and better than before, removing the city of the past. A scaffolding-covered area is incomplete and has many more structural hazards than completed-parts of a city. Because of this, the safety of the personnel operating on the scaffolding and the pedestrians walking under it are incredibly important. ANSI/ASSE A10.8-2011: Scaffolding Safety Requirements sets guidelines to ensure this.

All construction has some level of danger. Keeping the workers elevated only adds more hazards. All scaffolding must be able to support the weight of the personnel operating on it. ANSI/ASSE A10.8-2011 addresses this issue with several different guidelines. Scaffolding is generally comprised of wooden and metal planks. Both kinds should be tested for bending stress. Wooden planks should be used in locations with good air circulation to allow the wood to dry. In areas with inadequate circulation, additional stress tests should be used to account for the less-sturdy moistened wood. It would be irresponsible to assume that nothing could possibly go wrong with the structure of the scaffold. The standard recommends preparedness for error by having fall protection equipment and emergency descent devices. These emergency provisions should not be used as the primary form of descent, since they could be become overused and not work correctly for their intended purpose.

Scaffolding in cities is unique when compared to other construction sites, since it frequently has pedestrian foot traffic under the work site. This can pose additional threats if the scaffold is not operated and managed with care. Following the guidelines in ANSI/ASSE A10.8-2011 is important for the stability of the scaffold, which secures safety for both the workers and pedestrians walking under it. It is also recommended that there is someone on site who is familiar with all aspects of the standard. Testing should also be done occasionally to understand the stability of the scaffold over time.

ANSI/ASSE A10.8-2011 is a standard by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). ASSE is an ANSI-accredited organization that develops and publishes standards to work for the protection of people, property, and the environment.

Many issues not addressed by this standard have been covered in standards by the Scaffold Industry Association (SIA). The SIA, another ANSI-accredited organization, focuses on the technology needed for elevation in scaffolding. Some of their standards include:

ANSI/SAIA A92.3-2006: American National Standard for Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms
ANSI/SAIA A92.6-2006: American National Standard for Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms
ANSI/SAIA A92.9-2011: Mast-Climbing Work Platforms

Friday, July 24, 2015

ANSI ASC A14.2-2007: Portable Metal Ladder Safety Requirements

Humans have always been constricted to the ground by our relatively-unchanged biological limitations. The tallest man who ever lived in recorded history, Robert Pershing Wadlow, stood at 8’11”. Today, the average female height is 5’4” and the average male height is 5’9”, which is a significant increase from historical times, but is still minuscule compared to the heights of trees and geological features that have always towered above us. However, humans have never really needed an increased body height, since our minds have been innovating our way of life even before civilization. Archaeologists have confirmed that ladders date back to at least 10,000 years ago. They are an ancient, but still-relevant technology that has allowed us to access places that we would naturally be constrained from.

The most common material used in the construction of ladders is aluminum (or aluminium), due to its cheap cost and light weight. ANSI ASC A14.2-2007: American National Standards for Ladders - Portable Metal - Safety Requirements sets guidelines for the safe construction, design, testing, and care for portable metal ladders of different types. This includes ladders that are considered to be Special Duty, Extra Heavy-Duty, Heavy-Duty, Medium Duty, and Light Duty. The working load that these different ladder types can carry ranges from 200-375 pounds.

Since we were never meant to leave the ground, very strict precautions should be taken for the structure of ladders. ANSI ASC A14.2-2007 provides recommendations for the spacing between rungs, angle of inclination, and the correct workmanship for the bolts, rivets, and welds that are holding the pieces of the ladder together. The standard also identifies tests that should be used to determine if the ladder meets the guidelines for the five types of portable metal ladders. This involves using test loads on the rungs and side rails to determine how much weight they can support. This will ensure safety and efficiency for any individual operating the ladder.

Despite its popularity among ladder users, metal cannot be used for all processes that need to reach reasonable heights. The American Ladder Institute (ALI), a nonprofit association dedicated to ladder safety, also has standards dedicated to the proper construction and management of wood ladders (ANSI ASC A14.1-2007: American National Standards for Ladders - Wood Safety Requirements) and plastic ladders (ANSI ASC A14.5-2007: American National Standards for Ladders - Portable Reinforced Plastic - Safety Requirements). Ladders constructed of these materials are well-suited for environments where metal ladders are not safe to use, specifically in the presence of electrical equipment.

Other standards by the ALI include:

ANSI ASC A14.3-2008: American National Standards for Ladders - Fixed - Safety Requirements
ANSI ASC A14.4-2009: American National Standard Safety Requirements for Job Made Wooden Ladders
ANSI ASC A14.7-2006: American National Standard for Mobile Ladder Stands and Mobile Ladder Stand Platforms
ANSI ASC A14.7-2011: Safety Requirements for Mobile Ladder Stands and Mobile Ladder Stand Platforms
ANSI ASC A14.8-2013: Safety Requirements for Ladder Accessories
ANSI-ASC A14.9-2010: Safety Requirements for Disappearing Attic Stairways

All ladders must always be used for the purpose for which they were designed and be given the care that allows for continued use.

ANSI Z136.1-2014: Safe Use of Lasers

Lasers might be seemingly straight out of science fiction, but they are an actively-used technology in the world today. In fact, they have actually been around for a very long time. Interest in radiation was incredibly high at the start of the 20th Century from the discovery of radio, X-rays, and radar. In 1960, following years of discussion of scientific theory on amplifying light, Theodore Maiman placed a ruby inside a helical-shaped lamp to create the world’s first laser. The technology has been advancing ever since, having applications in communications, entertainment, surgery, and scientific advancement.

Most lasers are just amplifying light, but the frequency of each laser varies. There are some kinds that can be looked at directly without causing ocular harm, while there are others that can be damaging from any kind of exposure. ANSI Z136.1-2014: American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers sets recommended guidelines for the safe use of lasers that operate at wavelengths between 180 nm and 1000 μm. The standard sets guidelines for both the environment in which the laser is being used and any environment around the path of the beam.

While susceptibility to damage of materials is an important consideration with laser operations, the primary concern is the hazard to any person operating the equipment. ANSI Z136.1-2014 classifies each type of laser by its potential for biological harm. These classifications are Class 1, Class 1M, Class 2, Class 2M, Class 3R, Class 3B, and Class 4, with Class 1 lasers being exempt from any kind of control due to their lack of hazard and Class 4 lasers requiring strict controls in order to reduce the risk of exposure to the eyes or skin. The specific controls for each classification are thoroughly described in the standard. Since the use of lasers is essential for the operations of many much-needed technologies, securing the safety of the personnel of those operations makes them only more beneficial to society.

ANSI Z136.1-2014 is a standard by the Laser Institute of America (LIA). The LIA is responsible for several other standards regarding laser applications and safety, including:

ANSI Z136.2-2012: American National Standard for Safe Use of Optical Fiber Communication Systems Utilizing Laser Diode and LED Sources
ANSI Z136.3-2011: American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Health Care
ANSI Z136.4-2010: American National Standard Recommended Practice for Laser Safety Measurements for Hazard Evaluation
ANSI Z136.5- 2009: American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Educational Institutions
ANSI Z136.6-2005: American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers Outdoors
ANSI Z136.7-2008: American National Standard for Testing and Labeling of Laser Protective Equipment
ANSI Z136.8-2012: American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Research, Development, or Testing
ANSI Z136.9-2013: American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers in Manufacturing Environments

Even with standardization, lasers can still lead to harm if they are not used properly. For example, there have been many reported “laser assaults” against airplane pilots in the news lately. People on the ground are aiming green lasers towards flying planes, which illuminate the cockpits and ruin the pilots’ field of vision. Consumers need to be responsible with any laser products in their possession, even if they are labeled as Class 1.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

AIAA S-111A-2014: Space Solar Cell Testing

Our last post focused on AIAA S-117-2010, an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) standard that recommends a specific verification program for any space system. We looked primarily at the idea of space exploration to understand the importance of this standard. However, space organizations do a lot more than just exploration. For example, did you know that some of the most efficient solar energy panels are in space? AIAA S-111A-2014: Qualification and Quality Requirements for Space Solar Cells standardizes testing protocols within the space industry that interact with these solar cells.

Solar power, which takes advantage of the natural energy that is emitted to the Earth from the Sun, is a very popular source of electricity generation. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that 51% of the new electric generating capacity installed in the United States in Q1 2015 came from solar. The most-used method of harvesting energy from the sun is solar photovoltaic (PV). This generally requires panels made of silicon, which absorb photons to power a semiconductor and generate energy. PV arrays are placed on the roof of buildings and homes and sometimes in vacant spaces on the ground. These silicon panels have an average efficiency of about 15%. Some other solar panel materials are currently in the research and development phase. Leading these is perovskite, which has a heightened efficiency of about 20%.

On space crafts, however, solar is far more advanced. Instead of using silicon, space organizations favor gallium arsenide as the main component of solar panels. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has confirmed that gallium arsenide can have efficiency greater than 30%. These solar panels are generally limited to use in space due to their high cost. AIAA S-111A-2014 is an AIAA standard that provides the requirements to verify that space-based solar cells will operate in a predictable manner. The standard takes into consideration the special care needed for solar panels in space, which are very difficult to access and manage.

Due to degradation, the efficiency of the system will decrease over time. Depending on the condition of the system’s location, degradation can occur at different rates. Several tests are suggested by the standard to understand the condition of the solar system and its susceptibility to damage. The most basic of these is a visual inspection to assess the system for any visible irregularities. Another important test is the electrical test, which should be used on every single “string”, or series-connected set of solar cells, to understand the electrical capabilities. Since these solar panels are in space, they are exposed to very harsh conditions. This makes the extreme hot and cold, bending, and proton and electron exposure tests incredibly important. These guidelines can help to determine the operations and maintenance that will be necessary for the panels and provide an estimate for the lifespan of the system.

Guidelines for space solar panels are also addressed by the AIAA in AIAA S-112A-2013: Qualification and Quality Requirements for Electrical Components on Space Solar Panels.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Space Systems Verification Program

2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, which is responsible for countless captivating images of asteroids, planets, galaxies, stars, and other astronomical features. It is a welcome coincidence that the past year has been productive for space travel. In December, NASA launched an unmanned exploration flight test of the Orion spacecraft, which will take a crew on exploration several years from now. This spacecraft could potentially go to Mars around the year 2035. SpaceX has had several cargo resupply missions with its Falcon 9 and Dragon transport vehicles. Even in the last week, the space probe New Horizons captured never-before-seen images of Pluto and its moon Charon. Standards are essential for the technology, terminology, and practices of space exploration organizations.

Space exploration requires the best possible technology, since it is accomplishing what was thought to be impossible for the majority of human existence. Anything launching out of the Earth’s atmosphere must be tested to prevent any possible problems once it is out in space. AIAA S-117-2010: Space Systems Verification Program and Management Process provides a set of guidelines to be followed during construction for the verification of all general space systems (SS), manned or unmanned. One notable cause of problems with space exploration machinery is lack of proper testing during initial construction, which can lead to costly replacements and other issues post-launch. Verifying the SS at the correct time prevents any surprise payments and ensures the safety of all personnel operating the SS.

As discussed in the standard, space systems generally include five segments. These are the Space Segment, Launch Segment, Ground Segment (GS), User Segment, and Satellite Control Network Segment. AIAA S-117-2010 is intended to address the first three of these segments, but the latter two are also covered to some extent. Verification starts at the lowest level and the earliest phase of construction and continues until the purchase of the SS. The six verification management processes that should be utilized at each level are:

Process 1: Requirement flow-down and establishment of specification process
Process 2: Verification cross-reference matrix process
Process 3: Integration and test process
Process 4: Individual specification dedicated verification ledger process
Process 5: Sell-Off/Consent-To-Ship process
Process 6: Verification-related risk management process

These management processes allow for consistent and uniform verification among different SS builders. Proper verification during construction will also allow for swift re-verification, if needed.

Verification can easily be confused with validation, but they are two independent processes. Validation confirms that each system level is built to satisfy the stakeholders’ needs, while verification ensures that the overall system and its components satisfy each specification. AIAA S-117-2010 is intended for SS verification, but can also facilitate validation activities, which often coordinate closely with verification.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AIAA) is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. It sets some of the different aerospace standards that are used by many different organizations. They have 30,000 individual members from 88 countries and 95 corporate members. AIAA is an ANSI accredited standards developing organization.

Friday, July 17, 2015

ANSI GELPP 001-2002: Livestock Operations Conditions

In the middle of the 20th Century, there was a “Green Revolution”. During this time, due to scientific accomplishments, the overall crop yield increased greatly, even though the area needed for agriculture actually decreased. Ever since this time, the food procurement industry has been rapidly evolving, finding more efficient techniques and adapting practices to fit into the contemporary world. This is important because it is basically an industry that has lasted for thousands of years and is still depended upon today. Just in the first half of 2015, almost 4 billion animals have been used for consumption from farms in the United States.

One of the primary concerns that now exists about agriculture is its effect on the environment. ANSI GELPP 0001-2002: Concentrated Livestock Operations - General Site Conditions addresses this by discussing water and manure in concentrated livestock operations. These livestock operations include farms for pork, cattle, and chickens. The standard recommends keeping all manure a safe distance from any water sources. An important component of this is drain water runoff, which can build up from snow and make contact with the manure. If the water is contaminated with manure, it can be harmful not only to the animals that drink it, but from water runoff it can provide excess nutrients to other ecosystems, damaging them drastically.

Another concern is the treatment of the animals. Controlling water reduces the potential for disease in the animals. ANSI GELPP 0001-2002 also identifies several different locations, including animal feeding operations (AFO), commodity storage areas, facilities for housing livestock, and feed storage areas. It stresses proper use and separation of these areas. This ensures efficiency for the workers and cleanliness and care for the animals.

As it has always been, nutrition is one of the biggest interests of people in regards to agriculture. According to the American Public Health Association, mismanagement of farms has led to a decline in the nutrients received by farm food in the second half of the 20th Century. If the workers are responsible for properly managing the animals and maintaining cleanliness of the livestock operations, the meat product will be more nutritious and taste better to the consumer.

ANSI GELPP 0001-2002 is a standard by the National Pork Producer’s Council. Other standards that provide guidelines for concentrated livestock operations include:

ANSI GELPP 0002-2002: Concentrated Livestock Operations - Production Areas

ANSI GELPP 0003-2002: Concentrated Livestock Operations - Outdoor Manure and Storm Water Storage

ANSI GELPP 0004-2002: Concentrated Livestock Operations - Manure Utilization

ANSI GELPP 0005-2002: Concentrated Livestock Operations - Mortality Management

It is advised that an emergency action plan be created in case of any incidents that can prevent the concentrated livestock operation from not performing at proper efficiency. The facility should always maintain a consistently clean appearance to demonstrate that it is adhering to the recommendations in the standard.