Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pittsburgh - Carrie Furnaces and NIOSH PPTL

We visited Carrie Furnaces in Rankin, PA.  There are two blast furnaces remaining from the 11 that were operable on the site.  Most of the steel manufacturing is not in Pittsburgh anymore, and there are only two blast furnaces left in PA.  Sam Robinson was our guide (again).  He was a steel worker who worked on the site in the 1970s.  He gave us a great overview of how steel is made, and the process that took place on the Carrie Furnace and Homestead Steel sites.

We then went to the NIOSH Personal Protective Technologies Lab.  We were given an overview of the research taking place at the Lab.  We visited the labs that are working on transmission of blood and virus through PPE, elbow pressure testing for blood passing through PPE, respirator fit testing, and Ebola PPE ensemble testing for wearability. Thanks to the NIOSH Staff for hosting us!

We are now heading back to NJ and NY.  We said our goodbyes to our colleagues from Cincinnati, as they are driving back directly from Pittsburgh.  We had a great trip and have learned so much about worker protection and safety issues.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Materion Beryllium

Materion Beryllium

We visited Materion in Elmore, OH. They manufacture beryllium alloys. The tour they provided gave us an opportunity to see their products manufactured. These include beryllium alloys that are made into strip coils, wires, and rods, bars, and tubes. They do not manufacture any particular end-product, but the beryllium alloys materials are included in many of the products we use and are used across the globe. These include computers and cell phones, and in the oil and gas, and aerospace industries.  Throughout the visit, we saw how they address safety and health issues of their workforce.  Most of our group were in personal protective equipment, including tyvek suits, powered air purifying respirators, and hearing protection.  They visited areas that had the potential for exposure. Others visited areas that did not require the use of respiratory protection.

The Materion tour allows us to see how workers are protected with PPE and engineering controls, so that exposure to hazardous materials is minimized or eliminated.  Thanks to our hosts at Materion for providing this opportunity for our visit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ford River Rouge and GM Hamtramck Assembly

Ford River Rouge and GM Hamtramck Assembly

Today we visited two assembly plants.  First, we visited the historic Ford River Rouge plant in Dearborn, MI.  Henry Ford developed the Rouge to be totally self-sufficient in the process to build automobiles. They brought in all the raw materials to produce the materials needed for automobile production. The Rouge now makes the Ford 150 pickup truck.  They assemble one truck per minute throughout two work shifts each day.  Videos provided the history of the Rouge, and all the steps in the process to manufacture cars.  We saw the final stages as the parts are assembled, and the cars rolling off the assembly line.

At GM Hamtramck, we saw the Malibu and Impala being assembled.  We toured the shop floor, being able to walk next to the assembly line, seeing how the parts are pieced together to create a car.  GM Hamtramck assembles the Chevrolet Volt. Today was the last day of production of the first generation Volt, and we saw that car on the shop floor.  The second generation Volt will start production soon.  Thanks to Jamie Chatel, Hamtramck Safety Supervisor, and the other staff who led the tour.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Noblehurst Farms

Today we visited Noblehurst Farm in Linwood, NY (  “Established in July 1960, Noblehurst Farms Inc. is a seven generation, multi-family farm. Milking 1,800 cows and working over 2,500 acres of corn, alfalfa, and wheat this farm business has roots dating back to the very early 1800s.”  We saw the barns in which the cows are “housed” and the “carousel” on which the cows are milked.  The cows are milked three times a day, and it takes a few minutes for them to be milked.  Noblehurst generates energy by collecting methane, and produces enough energy to operate the farm, and provide energy back to the grid.  We saw baby calves, one born about 1.5 hours before we visited.

Noblehurst works closely with the NY Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health ( to provide safety and health training for their employees.  NYCAMH is one of 10 NIOSH-funded Agricultural, Forestry, and Fishing Centers. 

Thank you John, Kitty, Sarah (and others) from Noblehurst Farm for providing a great tour, and opening your operation to our trainees.   Also, thank you Jim and Marci from the NY Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health ( for arranging the tour with Noblehurst.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lackawanna Coal Mine

Sunday May 17
We have 22 participants on the tour.  Our trainees are from CUNY School of Public Health (IH), NJIT (Occ Safety Engineering), Rutgers (Occ Med), Mount Sinai (Occ Med), and NYU (Ergonomics). We also have three trainees from the University of Cincinnati ERC.

Our first stop was at the Lackawanna Coal Mine in Scranton, PA.  This is the 5th time that we've been here, and I always learn something new.  The tour is a public tour that anyone can go on, but you really get a good experience of what it is like to be in  coal mine.  We start with our desent into the mine, 300 feet below the surface.  At times they turn the lights off, so we can experience what it is like for miners working in the dark.  We also experienced how workers had to manuever their bodies to work in "monkey veins", areas of the mine that are less than two feet high.  Workers crawled on their stomach to reach areas of coal that needed to be mined.  We also learned about the labor issues, with children as young as nine years old working in the mine.  As we all know, there are many safety and health issues experienced by workers. This tour provided a glimpse into the life of the miners, and provided our trainees an opporutnity to experience what it might be like to work in the mine.

Friday, April 24, 2015

2015 Historical Perspectives Tour

We are a few weeks away from our 2015 Tour.  We have a great itinerary planned, and I am looking forward to visiting a new site.  We will leave on May 17, so check back to our blog then to follow us as we travel across the northeast US to better understand occupational safety and health issues.

Our itinerary is:
May 17 Lackawanna Coal Mine, Scanton, PA
May 18 Noblehurst Farms, Linwood, NY
May 19 River Rouge Assmebly Factory, Dearborn, MI
May 20 Materion Beyllium Products, Elmore, OH
May 21 Carrie Furnace/Homestead Steel, Homestead, PA and the NIOSH PPTL, Pittsburgh, PA