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Health and safety has gone mad


#1

Was: Ethics of Learning & Teaching

Dear Helen,

over here in the UK, as James has pointed out, we've gone
absolutely barking mad with the "health and safety" thing. It
really has gone to ridiculous extremes. 

I can’t agree with you that health and safety has gone mad. You may
think that the rules have gone over the top. I agree that in some
adult learning colleges, the rules do seem very pedantic. This is
basically because of insurance. The colleges don’t want to have to
pay out vast sums of money for negligence. I teach jewellery and
silversmithing at my own workshop. I have to a regular risk
assessment so that I am aware of the risks. I let someone else do
it. I also go through a health and safety checklist with every new
student. I also talk them through the risks of injury and burns as I
demonstrate each machine. Injuries do happen, as I know myself. I
have been injured several times on the polishing machine and burned
whilst soldering. I have also stabbed myself with gravers and
sawblades. They have proper protection when they are soldering and
polishing. I don’t see why my students should be open to this kind
of risk and leave my workshop and leave my workshop injured or
burned. It just isn’t worth the risk! As to your problems using the
correct eye protection for use with gas torches. I just wear ordinary
glasses while I am working with a flame, so my eyes are protected to
some extent. You could buy a clear visor when you are soldering, that
should do the job.

I am not sure why people use propane/oxygen for soldering. It is fine
for very small work, soldering findings, jump rings etc. For bigger
work, what I would call silversmithing it is not appropriate. The
flame is to hot and intense. For bigger work you need a big soft
flame that will heat the work gently all over. I use
propane/compressed air.

As to storage of propane and oxygen cylinders. It is dangerous to
store these two types of gas close to each because of the risk of
explosion. Oxygen in bottle is at a very high pressure. I think if
they do come into contact and ignite in the open air, there could
well be a terrifying explosion and your workshop would be in ruins.
Oxygen cylinders should be treated with the utmost respect. Some are
filled to 200 or 300 bar. Multiply by 15 to get pounds per square
inch.

I hope that helps you, but there again my comments might make you
even more frustrated.

Best wishes
Richard
www.richard-whitehouse.co.uk


#2

Helen,

HeHe… Maybe you folks have been living on an island too long.
Safety nannies have taken over. I’ve always kept my gas tanks inside
(clamped together and to a bench leg), and in a couple of studios
there wasn’t any spot in the room >1.5 meters from a wall.

Maybe you have been given bad I once ran O/A to 7
benches, the gas company insisted that my original plan to use gas
hoses was illegal (over 50 feet was a no no) and that I had to use
flared copper tube. Nothing blew up but a few years later I learned
that acetylene and copper react yielding a rather unstable explosive
salt.

Good luck with your adventures. Do remember O2 and propane when mixed
are highly flammable and explosive… avoid if at all possible, and
keep away from open flames :slight_smile:

Jeff
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#3
And then I've been told that when using my new set-up, I'm not
allowed to use it unless I'm wearing at least a shade 3 pair of
safety goggles which are in a horrible shade of green. Does
everyone else who uses an oxy/ propane set-up use green
goggles/glasses? 

Just hook that sucker up, make sure it doesn’t leak always, and fire
it up… I’m not going to argue with safety freaks about anything -
it makes them happy and so be it. I wrote on this thread earlier
today about doing a tennis bracelet, and realized I didn’t specify
that it referred to setting one, not making one outright, BTW. So
much of what is written in books and taught in classes in such
nonsense, I’m afraid. Somebody here lateIy don’t recall admonished
people to be sure to use three grades of sandpaper… I’d prefer an
exercise machine to that. I don’t care to argue with people, myself.
If they’re happy sanding silver, then that’s OK with me. The real
point is not to do things out of habit, but do things that work and
get the job done. It’s not to talk about speed or making money,
though that’s true, too. It’s just that we all have better things to
do than spend 8 hours on a 15 minute job because nobody told us how
to do things properly. Find a better role model…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#4

I have never used any glasses other than my corrective glasses I wear
daily. I did take a beadmaking weekend once. They had these rose
colored glasses that take the orange soda flare away and I use them
sometimes just for that reason. I have to be able to ‘see’ the heat
of the metal and I find that a colored lens hampers that a bit. I
use the rose glasses occasionally though.

Susan
www.ThorntonStudioJewelry.com


#5

Helen,

I am glad to hear that you agree with me about restrictions re
demonstration when showing students how to work.

I can understand some of Richard Whitehouse’s worries about students
hurting themselves during his classes, but I think that if time
honoured techniques of using our hand tools are changed then we are
in danger of losing the techniques of past skills. We all have
different methods of working and I am not to proud to learn any new
techniques that may better my work, which is why I will champion the
use of an Oxy propane torch in a workshop. In my long career working
in this trade I have used most methods of torch, when I started we
all used mouth blown torches, I actually first started soldering
with a bench system called the Birmingham sidelight and a hooked
blowpipe, this allowed both hands to be free. Then I moved onto a
small torch with a foot bellows which was soon replaced by an
electric blower.Then in 1970 our workshop benches were fitted with
oxy/natural gas torches. I have used an oxy/propane torch at my bench
since 1985 and it has served me well. Every piece shown on my set of
Orchid gallery photos was soldered using this system. Using my oxy
torch with it’s largest tip and decreasing the oxygen pressure,
allows me to have a large soft flame, perfect for soldering larger
pieces, so Helen I definately recommend you to persevere with your
new torch, but I agree with Richard that you do not need darkened
glasses as normal specs will protect your eyes, unless to plan on
melting white gold or platinum, where the molten mass will be very
bright to the eye. One other good point with an oxy gas torch is
that it is virtually silent to use in the workshop, so if you have
nosy neighbours they will not know you are at work. I do have a
larger, silversmiths torch, mounted on a forge, but it rarely gets
used these days, usually only when I am annealling large sheets or
softening the pitch on my chasing block.

Peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG
https://www.ganoksin.com/orchid/jmdesign.htm


#6

Hi Richard,

I can't agree with you that health and safety has gone mad. You
may think that the rules have gone over the top. I don't see why my
students should be open to this kind of risk and leave my workshop
and leave my workshop injured or burned. It just isn't worth the
risk! 

I wasn’t suggesting that students should be subjected to risk. I was
merely agreeing with James that things have gone over the top.
Jewellery making is a practical subject and accidents will happen.
How can you possibly make delicate jewellery if you have to wear
great big gloves for protection. Our fingers are precision
instruments that allow us to perform very delicate tasks. If the
health and safety regs say that you must wear protective gloves when
using certain pieces of equipment (like a jeweller’s saw for
example), then you can’t use your fingers for what they were designed
for. That’s just one example.

Such over the top health and safety regulations are in response to
the suing culture that we’ve adopted from the States (and I’m not
blaming any Americans so please don’t think that). I know the
colleges have no choice in the matter. Any college teacher who didn’t
go by such rules would be out of a job as I would have been if I’d
ignored such things when I was teaching. That doesn’t mean I have to
agree with the extremes they’ve gone to. For goodness sake, it’s got
to the point where such things as a pupil carrying a container
(beaker) of water across the studio/lab or whatever from the tap to
their bench, has to have forms filled in about the associated risks.
People in general are not stupid and yes, such risks should and MUST
be pointed out, but then certain things should be left to the
students’ common sense, having been made aware of what could go
wrong. And there’s nothing wrong, in fact everything right with
repeating the warnings at the beginning of each class, in case
certain individuals have forgotten - but some precautions have gone
too far. All the form filling has made teaching a much more stressful
and time-consuming profession too. All lessons must have a lesson
plan and all the risks have to be identified in the lesson plans too,
as well as in the risk/ hazard assessment forms. I know there is a
certain type of character who isn’t phased by all this and who still
really enjoys teaching - and you are clearly one of those characters

  • but I found that there weren’t enough hours in the day and the
    stress got on top of me. I loved teaching but I wouldn’t do it again.
I am not sure why people use propane/oxygen for soldering. It is
fine for very small work, soldering findings, jump rings etc. For
bigger work, what I would call silversmithing it is not
appropriate. The flame is to hot and intense. For bigger work you
need a big soft flame that will heat the work gently all over. 

Perhaps some of the many jewellers on this forum who use oxy/propane
can come in on this one. They somehow manage to solder, etc with
oxy/ propane.

As to storage of propane and oxygen cylinders. It is dangerous to
store these two types of gas close to each because of the risk of
explosion. Oxygen in bottle is at a very high pressure. I think if
they do come into contact and ignite in the open air, there could
well be a terrifying explosion and your workshop would be in
ruins. 

So why do they sell trolleys to accommodate a fuel gas cylinder and
an oxygen cylinder?

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#7

Hi Gang,

Maybe you have been given bad I once ran O/A to 7
benches, the gas company insisted that my original plan to use gas
hoses was illegal (over 50 feet was a no no) and that I had to use
flared copper tube. Nothing blew up but a few years later I
learned that acetylene and copper react yielding a rather unstable
explosive salt. 

In the US, most (if not all jurisdictions) require gases being
transported to more than 1 torch or long distances, be sent to the
place of use via black iron pipe. The use of the typical white
colored teflon tape for the joints is also prohibited. There’s a
special tan/oragne colored teflon tape that is intended to be used
for joints in gas carrying pipes.

Check with your local fire dept. for the rules in your locality.

Dave.


#8

Hi Jeff,

Good luck with your adventures. Do remember O2 and propane when
mixed are highly flammable and explosive... avoid if at all
possible, and keep away from open flames :-) 

I thought that was the whole point of using such a set-up to solder
metal and that you were being tongue in cheek, hence the smiley
face. An yes you’re right the safety nannies have taken over. I would
never suggest that we go into such ventures without any regard to
safety considerations - that would be pure folly but after the
appropriate warnings, certain levels of safety paranoia should be
left to our own common sense and desire for self preservation and
that of others.

Thanks for your good luck wishes Jeff.

Helen
UK


#9

Hi John,

Just hook that sucker up, make sure it doesn't leak always, and
fire it up.... 

That’s good enough for me. I should take my own advice too, as I
wrote earlier today, ie listen to and take heed of the safety
warnings and then just use your common sense.

I wrote on this thread earlier today about doing a tennis bracelet,
and realized I didn't specify that it referred to setting one, not
making one outright, BTW. 

Yeah, you did say setting a tennis bracelet with 50 stones and it
was understandable that you meat setting is as opposed to making it.
You are always eloquent and get your message across.

As for the revolting green safety glasses, Darren said he won’t let
me use it until I’ve got them, and then he proceeded to heat a
stainless steel bolt to white hot without any safety glasses
whatsoever, and I pointed out to him that the glare from the
oxy/propane flame is far less damaging than the glare from him
melting metal to white hot - although if I’m wrong on that score I’m
sure someone will put me right.

Helen
UK


#10
As to storage of propane and oxygen cylinders. It is dangerous to
store these two types of gas close to each because of the risk of
explosion. 

And some other quotes…

There are several discussions that simply cannot be had in this
world. Some involve fuzzy puppies (“What, you hate puppies?!?”), some
are other things, and one of them is with safety fanatics, not to say
that Richard, quoted above, is such. “What, you don’t believe in
safety!?!?!” Most gas stations in the US now have a little sign
prohibiting cell phone use, because of the threat of explosion. Not
such a bad thing, it’s just good to remember that IT’S NEVER ACTUALLY
HAPPENED… The quote above sounds like reasonable safety, until you
actually think about it. So, the tanks are going to, like, jump into
each other? They’re going to unscrew their valves in the night, and
strike a match? I suspect they’re just going to sit there until a
human does something to or with them, but that’s just me…That’s why
they’re called “tanks”.

But we can’t have that conversation because then I’m the bad guy -
I’m “anti-safety”. It’s a lose-lose situation. “We have our students
saw with oven mitts on so they don’t cut themselves - what, you
SUPPORT student injury!?!?!?”

There’s a pretty short list of things in our industry that are truly
dangerous. Strong acids, cyanide at times, solvents. All of those
have sensible, rational regulations in place for safe handling.
Machinery and sharp tools require training before use. And gas is a
whole system that must be understood and well-managed. But common
sense must prevail, too, and I’m with many here that if one is all
nervous about boric acid they’re probably in the wrong business. If
there was any real danger in having propane and oxygen tanks next to
each other, there wouldn’t be gas delivery trucks out there
delivering gas tanks, now would there?

My brother the chemist did a project that involved the NRC that’s
too long and boring a story to tell, but they had levels of
radioactive waste. There was a doorway through which everything that
passed had to be checked. The lowest level of things the lab called
"videoactive" - always with a chuckle. Those were the things that
were radioactive in someone’s vidid imagination only. But protocol
had to be followed…

I have found, in my old (er) age, that there are people in this
world who are profoundly ignorant. There ARE people who need to be
told not to drill through their hand, or put a hairclip in the
socket, or point a torch at their hand - or the gas hose, and some
of the instruction books and overkill are for those people, and they
need them. http://www.darwinawards.com is always good for a
smile…

Hook up your tanks, chain them to something (that IS important, plus
it’s the law…), check every fitting for leaks- I’ve used soapy
water for almost 40 years - crack open a window and turn that sucker
on.

Just an “I-share-your-exasperation” rant… And Helen might lower
the hose pressure on the oxygen, so it doesn’t blow out the gas…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#11
I have found, in my old (er) age, that there are people in this
world who are profoundly ignorant. There ARE people who need to be
told not to drill through their hand, or put a hairclip in the
socket, or point a torch at their hand - or the gas hose, and some
of the instruction books and overkill are for those people, and
they need them. http://www.darwinawards.com is always good for a
smile.... 

You could not be more correct! My husband runs a manufacturing plant
(helping him is my day job), and the stories he can tell… we had
an employee once who nearly cut off his nose! Terrible you say! Well,
yes… but when we asked him HOW he did this, he said, well, the end
of my lollipop (eating of which while on the job was against the
rules) was too long and was bothering me, so I took my scissors
(industrial) and cut it off (while in his mouth)… which meant the
long industrial scissors also cut off… you guessed it… the end
of his nose!

Some stupidities simply cannot be anticipated or protected against.
Big sigh.

It does make life interesting though!

Beth in SC


#12
Perhaps some of the many jewellers on this forum who use
oxy/propane can come in on this one. They somehow manage to solder,
etc with oxy/ propane. 

With the exception of a water torch I’ve used just about every other
possible. My torch of choice is oxy/acetylene (soot and all) Much
better control of where you are heating… a little jump ring and a
little flame, big stuff with a big tip and pull the torch back and
move it around. Sometimes I will use oxy/propane or acetylene/air but
not often.

So why do they sell trolleys to accommodate a fuel gas cylinder
and an oxygen cylinder? 

Trolleys be damned, ever notice a gas supply delivery truck? Most
every high pressure gas you can imagine with a few cryogenic ones all
really close to the petrol tank travelling at 80 klicks ? Just where
are the nannies when we really need them :slight_smile:

Jeff
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#13
That doesn't mean I have to agree with the extremes they've gone
to. For goodness sake, it's got to the point where such things as
a pupil carrying a container (beaker) of water across the
studio/lab or whatever from the tap to their bench, has to have
forms filled in 

We live in a gas house. We have a gas stove, water heater and
clothes dryer, and we also have gas lines throughout the house. Of
course, it’s all built to code. Our stove is a classic O’Keeffe &
Merritt - the white porcelain kind, and has 4 pilot lights running
24/7. It has passive ventilation - a rather loosely attached flange
going into a clay standpipe going out through the roof. There’s a
point, BTW… So, we turn on our oven to 450 deg. (F) - I won’t
bother to figure it out, but I’d say it’s probably the equivalent of
15 or 20 Mecco torches going full blast. Then we have two ovens, so
if you turn them both on you have like 40 torches in a corner of the
room going full blast. It’s funny how we’ll do that for Thanksgiving
and have a kitchen full of people, none of whom are gagging and
wheezing, and have yet to call emergency…

So lately I had reason to spend time at a state accredited art
college that I won’t name. They had a soldering station all nice and
neatly made, and then above there was a massive ventilation hood.
Not only that, but each and every torch had a 4" (10cm) pipe coming
down to just over the torch, all with a massive fan system behind
it. Something you might expect to see in a chip making facility.

Now, there are issues about torches that need to be known that are
in addition to a gas stove. Two of the biggest are the care of
high-pressure oxygen tanks, and to take where it says, "USE NO OIL"
to heart. But to a large degree fire is fire. And I have no quarrel
with anybody who feels comfortable doing things however they like,
either. But to suggest that somehow that is how it’s “supposed to
be” is another thing.

So, the question arises - are we jeopardizing our health by cooking
food? Is the State Of California remiss in it’s public safety
policies? Are we all being slowly poisoned by “vapors” in our
kitchens? Or is the school perhaps just a wee bit overdoing it? And
teaching their students to be afraid in the process? I also
understand that there will often be a drop of marginally harmfull
flux put on a piece, and that a microgram of that might actually
vaporize. Like, considerably less than the vapor from a 1/2 cup of
vinegar in a stew, or the like.

Schools are what they are - this discussion isn’t going to change
policy a bit. I share the dismay at what they’ve become, though.
They need to avoid lawsuits, to be sure. But FYI, I do support
student injuries, to the extent they do it by being treated as
adults. And I also support policy driving the parents, instead of
policy being driven by fear of parents who might sue. But that’s all
opinion - they have become what they are today, and that’s that.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#14

Hi James,

I will indeed persevere with my torch set-up and am 100% confident
that I will get used to it before long. And I agree with you about
the green glasses. When I melt silver, the glare from that is far
worse than the glare from the flame during normal soldering, so
thanks for the reassurance.

I too hope that the paranoia over health and safety does not
threaten the passing on of knowledge to future generations. Things
don’t always carry on regardless. Trades can and do die out if not
nurtured so hopefully the beaurocrats won’t jeopardise this ancient
trade.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#15
The use of the typical white colored teflon tape for the joints is
also prohibited. There's a special tan/oragne colored teflon tape
that is intended to be used for joints in gas carrying pipes. 

When in the shop, I asked about the use of polytetrafluoroethylene
(ptfe) tape as such things were once recommended (although I don’t
remember exactly what pipes they used to be recommended for - perhaps
household gas plumbing) and they said that ptfe tape should
definitely NOT be used for oxygen pipe joints as the ptfe contains
oil and the oxygen in the pipes will (or is likely to) react
explosively if the tape is used. They do NOT recommend its use for
any of the fuel gases either. The chap said that the modern fittings
are designed to be gas tight when tightened correctly. Presumably
they use some sort of compression fittings with collapsible olives
or the like in the UK.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#16

Hi All,

Being an Old Philosopher I just have to comment on a point that has
not yet been mentioned on this thread.

As sincerely concerned as we all may be for our own safety and the
safety of our young people-THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A RISK FREE
EXISTENCE. Attempting to reach that mirage results in the classic
overprotection of the “nanny state”, and, as with all regulatory
actions, there are unintended consequences.

We make a huge issue about teaching “drivers ed.” in our schools in
order to help scatterbrained teenagers cope with the risks of
driving a very dangerous machine, shouldn’t we also give them a
practical education in the use and control of every other tool in our
culture? Imagine the danger of coming across a sharp knife to a teen
who didn’t learn to chop an onion, peel a carrot and carve a turkey
as a six year old at his (not a gender specific term) mother’s side.
And what of the hammers and saws in Dad’s shop or the chemistry set
at the neighbors house?

We learn best from our own experiences and often the lessons are
emphasized by a little pain. My grandchildren are learning about
everything I can think of when they’re with me, right down to the
safe operation of a chainsaw-talk about a dangerous tool!

I’m convinced that we must not leave ourselves defenseless against
the risks of life by overly protective rules, we must throttle the
nanny state.

Dr. Mac


#17
so I took my scissors (industrial) and cut it off (while in his
mouth).... which meant the long industrial scissors also cut off...
you guessed it... the end of his nose! 

Ouch!!! Sadly for people like that, even the over the top safety
rules and regs won’t protect them.

Helen
UK


#18
Trolleys be damned, ever notice a gas supply delivery truck? Most
every high pressure gas you can imagine with a few cryogenic ones
all really close to the petrol tank travelling at 80 klicks ? Just
where are the nannies when we really need them :-) 

Amen to that! I think, as long as you follow all the common sense
guidelines, always be aware of the dangers and become confident (not
blaze but not so scared you’re dangerous either) with the equipment
then it’ll be okay.

Helen
UK


#19
Then we have two ovens, so if you turn them both on you have like
40 torches in a corner of the room going full blast. It's funny how
we'll do that for Thanksgiving and have a kitchen full of people,
none of whom are gagging and wheezing, and have yet to call
emergency. 

Very good analogy John. I couldn’t agree more.

But FYI, I do support student injuries, to the extent they do it by
being treated as adults. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I support student injury perse. But
learning the dangers as a result of being injured is probably a far
better and more effective lesson than the OTT rules and regs that
the schools have to abide by. It is a shame that everything we do is
governed by the possibility that we may be sued if we don’t do X, Y
or Z.

Helen
UK


#20
When in the shop, I asked about the use of polytetrafluoroethylene
(ptfe) tape as such things were once recommended (although I don't
remember exactly what pipes they used to be recommended for -
perhaps household gas plumbing) and they said that ptfe tape should
definitely NOT be used for oxygen pipe joints as the ptfe contains
oil and the oxygen in the pipes will (or is likely to) react
explosively if the tape is used. They do NOT recommend its use for
any of the fuel gases either. The chap said that the modern
fittings are designed to be gas tight when tightened correctly.
Presumably they use some sort of compression fittings with
collapsible olives or the like in the UK. 

There are broadly two classes of fittings used to join the plumbing
that we use to convey fuel gas an oxygen, pipe fittings and what can
be called tube fittings which have precision sealing surfaces.

Pipe fittings have tapered threads that are cut directly onto the
end of a piece of pipe that fit into a matching thread in a pipe
fitting. Pipe threads create a metal to metal seal when they are
tightened deeply enough into the matching fitting. To do so requires
a significant amount of force and the metal the pipe is made from
will often bind and gall in the process which makes it feel like it
is tight enough but will leak. To alleviate this problem pipe
fittings are lubricated when they are made up with either a paste
pipe compound or a teflon tape. It ie very important to recognize
that the lubricant is NOT a sealing agent even though they are often
referred to as being a sealing agent. There are lubricants that are
rated fro different duties like high temperature or oxygen service
and it is important to use the right one but they will not seal a bad
fitting up of the joint.

Tube fittings are made with a precision machined mating surface on
both ends or with a collapsable soft ferrule that is forced into the
mating face but in either case they are drawn together with a
threaded collar that spins freely on its end of the fitting and
pulls the two mating faces together. These fittings are not designed
to need the lubricant to achieve a seal and in fact the lubricant can
and often will interfere with the sealing of the fitting. Pipe
compound or teflon tape should never be used on these type of
fittings.

In a torch rig using bottled gas all the fittings you will normally
encounter that are meant to be disassembled by the user are tube
fittings (hose connections between torch and regulator and the
fitting between the regulator and the tank). There are indeed pipe
fittings on the regulator and sometimes the torch body but they are
not intended to be disassembled by the user.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550