Sunday, August 28, 2016

'Safety' Isn't Always Safe

If you've ever worked an industrial job, even for a day, you know that safety is stressed over anything else. Contrast that with commercial work, where minor and moderate injuries are a daily occurrence. It's perhaps even over-emphasized, to the point of interfering with your ability to get the job done, at times.

I'm not complaining. I enjoy living, and not getting hurt.

In commercial work, we run more pipe before ten o'clock that an industrial crew will do all day. At the same time, doing commercial, I've: put a hole saw into my forearm, knelt on a glowing red coupon, put out a fire on an acetylene bottle, and stood on top of a ladder on top of some plywood on top of a scissor lift. Without a harness.

Half of the people working commercial are stoned, or on pills. Some of them are drunk. I've also only been around one death in commercial work, personally, though. Three people have died in this area alone this summer working industrial, due to heat stroke/exhaustion. Which leads me to this column.


Let me give you a few specific examples about how safety programs and rules can actually decrease safe conditions, and lead to problems like this.

For some crazy reason, water bottles are not allowed on site. That's right, you're supposed to drink a lot of water (and work hard), but you can't fill up a plastic bottle and keep it with you. For some crazy reason. Instead, you have to drink (probably fluoridated) water from 4 oz. paper cones (bleached with dioxin), out of a cooler (plastic with lead in it).


You're supposed to keep your energy levels up and eat well, BUT IN SOME AREAS OF THE PLANT, YOU"RE NOT ALLOWED TO EAT AT BREAK.

Fucking mindless, man. Fucking mindless.

The most famous example of braindead safety practices is tying off above six feet. Guess what? At six to eight feet, perhaps as high as ten YOU'RE STILL GOING TO HIT THE FUCKING GROUND with no slowdown whatsoever.

So you're saddled with a cumbersome harness that catches on everything, and trips you, causing more hazards than if you wore nothing.

Most egregious, one of the safety people on site doesn't care about making sure you actually work safe. She just tries to make a name for herself in the field and industry by fucking you over. She'll correct you on something minor, pretend everything is fine, and then run back to her boss. THIS IS OUR FUCKING CAREER AND LIVES HERE, LADY. Don't fuck with us.

I've been told to enter an invalid confined space, without the proper number of legal exits, despite my protests. I was told to mark a spot on a slope, and then told when I got out that it was a termination offense to go on the slope. Stupid. That GF is no longer with us, at least. But industrial foreman want it both ways: get it done, but they don't have your back when you do.

Now I'm in a different area, and we're on slopes all the time. The very lack of consistency is dangerous, not to mention morale-killing,

This is a great example of how empty-headed things have become, by focusing on policy instead of actually common sense safety.

I was having a bad morning. Not enough sleep due to moving, I think. I had to update some barricade tags. The originals said something like 'Danger to life and safety'. So when I rewrote them, I unthinkingly put 'IDLH'.

Immediate Danger to Life and Health...

Stupid of me, to be sure. That's a very specific term, and it didn't apply there. My fucking mistake.

I corrected the problem within minutes. It created no unsafe condition whatsoever. Affected nothing.

Now there's a picture of one hanging in the safety office. And I was almost written up.

That's not the bad part, however. Just prologue to this.

While the piping superintendent was fuming at me about it next to the trench (he didn't think 'At least no one will go into the confined space' - a trench, was very funny), HE WALKED UNDER A BOOM, AND ALMOST INTO A STICK OF 30" PIPE THAT WAS BEING FLOWN. Way, way more serious than what he was focused on.

The same pieces of pipe were being staged on styrofoam blocks, with tiny little chocks the size of doorstops. NO. NO. NO. The 90s weren't hanging down, they were half on the plywood and styrofoam, creating a stored energy condition that could have made them roll and fall down. THEY COULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE. I could have pushed them off. All it would have taken was for the crane to bump them.

I told him, he ignored me. I told a foreman, who said that I was wrong. I tried to tell the G.F., who ignored me entirely and walked away.

Mindless adherence to safety rules, instead of focusing on actually working safe, kills people. I am not cool with that. Get your fucking heads out of your fucking asses, people.

- Psycho

Please upvote me on Steemit.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What The Fuck Happened To the Industrial Construction Industry?

I started out building golf courses when I was sixteen. Then I did private estate management in California. Eventually. HVAC and plumbing. I finally fell into industrial construction as a pipefitter, and I'm really happy with it. I make a ton of money, get a lot of exercise, and work with great people.
But the industry done lost its mind.
Now, I've only been in it for eight years, but even that is long enough to see massive changes being made to the way we do things. Changes that are going to get a lot of people killed someday. I'm mainly talking about credentials, and the hiring process. Safety is another issue for another column, but it's also a factor.
When I got my NCCER certification seven years ago, it was a big deal. I earned top pay. got priority hiring, and per diem. Now so many people have cheated to get certified, it's become meaningless. To get hired on now, I have to do a skills assessment test. My cert counts for almost nothing.
I'm not opposed to skill assessment, don't get me wrong. But it's just what I expect a helper to know how to do. The same thing occurs as with the NCCER: people find out from others what the test consists of, and learn just enough to pass it. That's not helping make new hands that know what they're doing.
The industry as a whole gives very little consideration to retention. Every time I see a good foreman leave a job he's been on, for a dollar an hour more, or because he's tired of the nonsense, I cringe. That's a half-million bucks worth of site-specific knowledge walking off of the site.
The pay scales are getting all out of whack. I'm making $29 as a plus. In Baytown, one company is paying top helpers $28, and top fitters $31... They're trying to build plants with helpers, now. That's dangerous. A good pipefitter knows how to get things done without cheating. This is vital to building a plant that will operate safely. Inexperienced fitters will get in a bind, and cut corners, rendering the pipe at risk to rupture at a later date.
Likewise, I know of a QC who is getting "on the job training" become a QC. She's not a pipefitter. She's paid as a QC, to learn to become a QC. That is something that can really only be learned well after a few years in the field. God only knows what sort of stuff she is missing. I've caught 25-year veteran QCs missing things.
The current safety person we're dealing with...creates hazards. Instead of helping with safety, they create unsafe conditions by worrying about trivial issues, and ignoring big, life-threatening ones. Unlike a decent safety person who helps out, this one is creating a hostile atmosphere of fear. That's not good for anyone, obviously.
Ordinarily, I say that we work each piping iso three times before were done. On the last job I was on, it was more like SEVEN. And then we were seven months past schedule. Then there was an emergency shutdown a month after it started up.
This is not the place to cut corners with personnel. But these companies are, and they're getting away with it in the short term. In the long-term? There will be terrible tragedies. Mark my words.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pipefitting - Credentials


Safety Council


Security Passport


Pipefitting - Companies

I'll maintain a running list of regional and national pipefitting companies here, both industrial and commercial.

Industrial Contractors

Turner Industries
Quinn Guidry - 225-300-8100

Shaw Group

S & B Engineers and Constructors
Steve Oler
Craft Personnel Manager
Stephanie Harper
Eddie Salazar
Stephanie Adamson
Ronnie Balentine
Training and Development Coordinator 
Tracy Riendeau
Training Coordinator 

Repcon - (361) 289-6342

Performance Contractors

Starcon International




Explosion at Chevron Plant - Richmond, California

This started as a simple diesel line leak. No one was killed.

Ever done a burnout of a plant? It's a complete teardown. You remove everything to the foundations, usually. And cold-cut everything, because of the chemicals and potential for fire.

So, there's work in Richmond, I imagine.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Welcome to

Finally, a site where you can find the best industrial jobs for pipefitters. Stay tuned...