For the Dusty Jobs Podcast Donovan talks with Bob Dayringer an Industrial Hygienist from MyOHSA. Bob talks about what it means to be an Industrial Hygienist and why you should schedule one to visit your company. Also Bob talks about a cautionary tale from a few visits of different companies.
Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs Podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.
Donovan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Thanks for listening again. Today we have joining us Bob Dayringer, retired MyOSHA. Did I say your last name right, Bob?
Bob: Yes. Yup.
Donovan: Alright. So he has been a senior industrial hygienist for, oh man, how many years did you have in the industry Bob?
Bob: Uh, thirty nine and a half years. I was with MyOSHA for thirty nine and half. I was a CIH for thirty some years.
Donovan: Now, what’s a CIH? I’m not familiar with that term.
Bob: A CIH is certified industrial hygienist. It’s the professional way of saying that you know what you’re doing.
Donovan: Gotcha. So those are some initials that give you a little bit of credibility.
Bob: Yeah, the American Board of Industrial Hygiene sponsors a two part test that you take to become certified. It’s a fairly rigorous test.
Donovan: So I’m sure over the time that you were doing that, man, probably the industry changed so much during that time frame. I imagine you saw innovations and regulations and a lot of stuff change, huh?
Bob: Quite a lot of change, yes, over those years. I have said that industrial hygiene isn’t quite as exciting now as it used to be because standards move along. They find out things are worse for you than they originally thought. They lower exposure limits, and when they lower exposure limits, the industry tends to move away from those issues, and the workplace gets a little safer. It’s not quite as exciting when you go into the industries because some of the bad things that were there no longer exist.
Donovan: So it’s not as exciting in a good way. Things are starting to get safer.
Bob: Exciting is now always a good thing.
Donovan: Yeah, so it’s still very interesting and intriguing, but there’s no one probably getting as sick as they used to, or as injured as they used to.
Bob: It makes the days fun when you constantly get the chance to learn new things and to see new things.
Donovan: Yeah, I can imagine. So we kind of talked about what an industrial hygienist is, but we kind of gave a broad definition. What would you say? Would this be something someone would go to college for? How did you actually find your way into it and what does it actually mean from day to day?
Bob: I found my way into it by luck, actually. I was just out of college with a degree in biology and chemistry working as a chemist in a chemical manufacturing facility, and it became my job to escort the MyOSHA guys through the plant when they came to visit us. I saw what they were doing and I thought, ‘Boy, this looks like a lot more fun than what I am doing.’ So I applied and eventually got into MyOSHA. Then there was a big learning curve.
Donovan: Oh, I can imagine, I can imagine. So you started out meeting these guys, and then you said, “I think I’ll do that.” What is a day in a person who is an industrial hygienist? Is it a lot of visiting factories? How does it go about, If I was going to shadow you for the day?
Bob: Most of my days would be going to an industry somewhere. I was in consultation so I went out at the request of the facility. I was able to talk to them beforehand and determine what their concern was. I might do some research about that material or concern, and then go to their facility, do air contaminant or noise monitoring, review ventilation systems to see if they were working as they were supposed to. Those types of things. It’s kind of like being a risk assessment detective. You look for things that can cause risk for the employee.
Donovan: I gotcha, I gotcha. So, I mean, thirty nine years you were doing this. What are some of the most common things you would run into during that time frame? I’m sure it’s changed, like we talked about earlier, but what was some stuff that typically you could walk in and say, “Wow, I see this a lot,” and really help people out with it.
Bob: I would say three things. First of all, noise exposure. Noise is everywhere in the industry. Many, many, many people are overexposed to noise and lose hearing because of that. Number two on the list would be welding fume exposure. I wrote more citations, more hazards, for an air contaminant, for welding fume than anything else by far. Thirdly would be bad ventilation systems, things that were installed to help protect the employee that really didn’t do much or didn’t work correctly.
Donovan: I gotcha, I gotcha. So, there’s something there that’s in place but maybe the design of it or how it was actually functioning wasn’t working to-
Bob: It just wasn’t up to what they intended it to do.
Donovan: I gotcha, I gotcha. Good intentions, bad design possibly.
Bob: Lots of times.
Donovan: So, in all these times do you have any stories about maybe when you ran into something like that where you were just like, “This is not working out at all.”
Bob: One of the ones that really comes to mind is that you have to spend your money wisely. I went into a foundry years ago. My first day there they were so proud. They had just put in this new exhaust ventilation system in the core-making room. I asked, “Why did you put this in?”
They said, “It smells really bad in there so we spent a few hundred thousand dollars trying to get rid of this bad smell.”
Of course, I said, “What is that bad smell? Is it something hazardous? Is it just a bad smell?”
“Well, we don’t really know. It smells bad. People complain, so we spend the money.”
Across the door into the other half of the foundry, it was a leaded brass foundry. Their lead exposure was so high that they had people off on medical leave. It was really hazardous. They had spent hundreds of thousands to get rid of a bad smell and done nothing about the lead.
Donovan: Oh my.
Bob: I always say to spend your money wisely. There’s only so much in that suitcase to spend. They had several employees off on medical leave because of high, elevated blood leads. It was very hazardous.
Donovan: Did you say, “Hey, why don’t we take this pipe that you put here and put it here to help with that lead,” huh?
Bob: Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. It has to be designed specifically. You should have taken this block of money and spent it in the foundry.
Donovan: They should have had you in there before they started making these decisions, huh?
Bob: I think it would have been a lot better. I certainly would have said, “Don’t do this.”
Donovan: Okay, so lets say there is a setting – you talked a lot about weld exposure – in this setting it was lead exposure. How would a person even know that? How would they go about getting a test or figuring that out? How do you guys do that? How do you let someone know when their exposure limit is too much or if they’re within it? What’s the process in helping people determine that?
Bob: If it’s noise, we have digital readout, equipment that takes the noise sample constantly thorough-out the day. It provides us with an exposure number at the end of the day. If we’re doing air contaminant monitoring then we usually have an air sampling pump and we’ll pull air through some type of media that collects the contaminant. We then send it to a laboratory and they do the analysis, and we can say that for that period of time, this is how much material was in the breathing zone of the employee. For instance, for welding fume we take that sample right inside the helmet. We put a cassette inside the helmet and we suck air through that cassette and then have the cassette analyzed.
Donovan: Wow. So you can’t get any closer to that unless you were going to put it in their nose.
Bob: Exactly, yes. We want it to be in the breathing zone. The definition of the breathing zone is within six inches of your air intake.
Donovan: So if you’re talking about weld fume exposure, when you would typically see someone that was inside or outside that range, what does that range look like? How does that measure?
Bob: The range of welding fume exposure?
Donovan: Yeah. So, if someone was welding for ten minutes or welding all day – if I was a welder and I was looking at this how would I know if I am exposed too much or if I’m within the acceptable limit?
Bob: Most everyone now is a MIG welder. Most of your welding in the industry is MIG, metal inert gas. It’s a wire fed system. I would say rule of thumb if your production welding and you’re welding more than three hours a day, and you don’t have some sort of ventilation system to collect that fume you’re probably going to be exposed above the Michigan exposure limit. Exposure limits are different depending upon where you’re located.
This gets to be a long story, but Michigan’s exposure limit is five milligrams of contaminate per cubic meter there. The feds – Federal OSHA – states still ten. It really needs to come down from there, from either place. A couple years ago IARC, the International Association for the Research of Cancer, has now called welding fume a carcinogen. So, there’s that. There’s manganese in all of welding fume. The manganese exposure limit for the feds was five. It’s going to – well, ACGIH, American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist, is recommending that it be limited to 0.02.
Donovan: Wow. So, things are getting even less exciting, right? Hopefully.
Bob: Hopefully they will get less exciting, right? Right now if you’re a welder you’re overexposed to manganese and probably welding fume in some states if you weld more than three hours a day.
Donovan: So the functionality and having a good system in place to get that weld fume away from that operator – we’re becoming more and more aware of how important that is for people’s health and safety.
Bob: We’re recognizing now the importance of getting away the welding operators, definitely.
Donovan: So if someones out there and they have a weld shop and they’re thinking, ‘Man, I would love to have someone like Bob to come in and look at my operation and tell me where I could make things better or help.’ How would someone do that? Is it a paid service? Is it a government service? From what you used to do, how would someone get in touch with their dental – or not dental hygienist! What am I saying here – with their industrial hygienist that is in their area?
Bob: If they’re in a state plan state, if their OSHA program is ran by the state, all of the state plan states have consultants that come in free of charge. In federal states, I’m not aware. I think some of them also have consultation programs. The first thing I would do is check the web and see if my state had that availability for free service. If not, there is a variety of paid consultants that will come out. There are many organizations that have IH’s working for them that can come out and do this monitoring.
Donovan: I know some people would say, “Why would I want to call OSHA into my facility?” That’s just a scary thing to do. But, from what I remember talking about earlier kind of what you guys did and what the other side of OSHA does is a little bit separate. Is that right? The consulting side in comparison to…
Bob: Compliance and consultation are totally separate. Compliance does not know where consultation goes or what they do. As a consultant, we are requested by the employer to come in. We provide a report to the employer that gives them some direction of what they need to do to come into compliance. It’s a free voluntary chance to come into compliance with standards. There is a catch. Consultation does request a gentleman’s agreement that they will fix what’s broken. If we find something seriously wrong, they need to fix it, or we’re required at some point in time to turn it over to compliance. It very seldom happens because typically the people that have consultation come in that know that up front and are willing to fix what’s broken.
Donovan: They’re coming to you saying, “We know there is an issue. We’re trying to find a solution.” That’s such good information. You guys out there with OSHA are really trying to help make the workplace a safer, cleaner environment, a healthier environment. Here at Imperial that’s what we try to do too. We’re a little bit on the other side of it, just continuing to build equipment. So it’s a really great to hear that out there in the field what we’re doing can really help somebody go home safer to their family at night. That’s what we’re shooting for here.
Bob: Everyone laughs at that statement. “I’m from the government. I’m here to help you.” In this case it’s really true.
Donovan: Well, Bob, do you have anything else that might be helpful for anyone out there if they’re listening and thinking, ‘Man, I don’t know if I have any exposure to anything.”
Bob: I think it’s never a bad idea to have your consultant come in and review your data sheets and review your operations and see if there are things that might be of interest to look deeper into. Again, over time yo kind of get a feel for what can be a problem. With that length of service comes some knowledge that makes it easier to tell what might be an issue.
Donovan: Yeah, yup. Well Bob, thanks again for coming on. We really appreciate it. Maybe we’ll do something again in the future. We could cover some other topics. We really appreciate your wealth of knowledge and being willing to share it with us.
Bob: You’re certainly welcome.
Donovan: Everyone who is listening out there, if you’d like to reach out to us more you can find us Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and now we have a Tik Tok! So you can watch us on Tik Tok. Once again, thanks for listening. Everybody out there stay healthy and stay safe.
Bob: Thanks Donovan.
Donovan: Thanks Bob.
Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Breathe better, work safer.