Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Safe Packaging and Transportation of COVID-19 Materials

May 12th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Infectious substances, such as certain COVID-19 tainted materials, can pose a risk to health, safety, and property if packaged and transported incorrectly. When transporting such materials, it is extremely important to consult PHMSA’s Hazardous Materials Regulations to help minimize risk and exposure.

To assist medical facilities, clinical laboratories, and hazardous waste carriers in their efforts to move COVID-19 specimens, cultures, isolates, and medical wastes, PHMSA developed a COVID-19 Quick Reference page that provides guidance on how to package and transport these materials safely.

See PHMSA’s Guidance on Transporting COVID-19 Infectious Substances for more information.

Business as Unusual: Skolnik Industries

April 7th, 2020 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Emergency situations have a habit of sneaking up on those affected, but being prepared for various unknowns can set you up for success during a crisis. Chicago-based, specialty steel drum manufacturer, Skolnik Industries understands this better than most. Through years of business continuity strategizing, careful planning and communication, this essential industrial packaging manufacturer positioned itself to survive and thrive throughout a myriad of disastrous mishaps, including a global pandemic like Coronavirus (COVID-19). Both Chairman, Howard Skolnik and President, Dean Ricker, gave their invaluable insights on what the company has done to prepare for the current crisis we’re in and how it’s managing through it.

Early on, Skolnik Ind. recognized the importance of having contingency plans in place, should an emergency occur. In the spirit of preparedness, they partnered with Integrated People Solution’s, John Estrada, an executive coach and HR consultant, to further this endeavor of business continuity planning. Estrada regularly provided guidance on developing a more robust organization effectiveness and performance during a crisis. This helped leadership to better manage their talent, building a stronger rapport between them and all the employees — especially when devising drills and emergency scenarios the company might encounter. Through constant communication and care given to the workforce on all levels, the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis has been met with a smooth and purposeful, company-wide transition led by Dean Ricker. Recognizing the threat to health, Ricker proactively shifted the company to a mode of social distancing and applicable remote work to ensure a safer environment for all. Constant communication with employees throughout the crisis has helped to alleviate unnecessary stresses that managerial silence would bring.

No stranger to disaster, Skolnik Industries has realized the importance of preparing for the unpredictable. After the company suffered a devastating fire in 1987, it eventually bounced back stronger and with a renewed sense of paramountcy placed on the people that would run it. As they began to regain their footing as a company, Howard Skolnik came to see the incident as an opportunity that would not only help to create jobs, but also identify and obtain key talent that would help guide the business with informed experience. From this, a culture of safety and forward thinking was born, and subsequently came with the need for building out a contingency plan, should another crisis emerge. For decades, they’ve practiced some sort of disaster response training, emphasizing proactivity over reactivity. Ultimately, through the increased sense of teamwork and proactivity expressed within the company, they’ve not only identified better processes to work by, but set themselves up for a better adapted future.

Planning for business continuity is part of our corporate culture. For almost a decade, John Estrada, (john@ipeoplesolutions.com) of Integrated People Solution’s, has guided us in preparing for unexpected business interruption.

This interview was conducted by Ian Fortune (fortunewrit@gmail.com).

Canada Slows Trains

March 24th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

To protect Canadians who live along rail corridors, it is critical that the transport of dangerous goods by rail is done safely. Following the derailment of an important, or key, train on February 6th, 2020, in Guernsey Saskatchewan, a Ministerial Order was issued for the immediate slowdown of key trains. A key train is one carrying 20 or more cars containing dangerous goods like petroleum crude oil; or a train carrying one or more cars of toxic inhalation gas. Since then, Transport Canada officials have worked diligently with large railway companies to further assess the causes of recent derailments, and to develop plans to address the areas of greatest concern. New measures are being implemented to reduce the speed of the higher risk key trains traveling through areas of greatest concern.

The speed limit for key trains is now limited to 35 mph in metropolitan areas. Outside of metropolitan areas where there are no track signals, the speed is limited to 40 mph. Higher risk key trains are trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods.
For now, the speed limit for higher risk key trains is now limited to 25 mph where there are no track signals. For metropolitan areas, the speed limit is 30 mph unless the metropolitan area is in a non-signal territory where the speed limit will be maintain at a maximum 25 mph.

This new Order was effective immediately and will remain in place until April 1, 2020. Transport Canada is working with the railways to develop a more comprehensive set of safety measures, which will include permanent measures such as track infrastructure maintenance and renewal, review of winter operations, safety practices of the railway companies, and other actions necessary to keep Canadians safe. Rail safety is the Minister of Transport’s top priority, and the Government of Canada is continuously looking for ways to make their railway system safer for Canadians.

Drum Components that are UN Certified are not Interchangeable.

March 17th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

While steel drums may look alike, once they are United Nations certified for hazardous materials, they are as unique as the manufacturer. The entire design of a UN drum, and all its components (metal thickness of the body and heads, ring type, gasket, bolt, nut, plugs), is set and defined when being subjected to the Performance Oriented Packaging Standards per CFR 178.600, the US Code of Federal Regulations. The specific components used to perform the test comprise a drum type, or certification, that must meet a designated test standard for classified HazMat products. Once in the field, shippers cannot alter or interchange any of these components, even though they may appear similar, changing these features will impact the ability of the drum to perform as certified. This also applies to the required Closure Instructions per CFR 178.2(c), which are required to be given to the shipper by the specific packaging manufacturer. If replacement parts are needed, fillers must make sure that they get the originally tested components from the manufacturer. Once a drum enters transportation, compliance with the UN Certification is the responsibility of the shipper. Failure to comply with the UN certification may result in a fine from the DOT.

Pack it Right! Ship it Right!

February 25th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Associations, DOT/UN, HazMat, Safety

A compliant shipment of dangerous goods has never been more critical, more complex and more expensive if done improperly. In addition to lives at risk, planes, ships, trains, trucks and all public right-of-way can be severely impacted when an incident does occur. In order to educate shippers on how to identify, pack and ship hazardous materials, many agencies and industry partners are developing resources to provide the latest in safety regulation as well as videos and tools on how to transport products safely. The Council on Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA), has gathered this information and created a web page that is an outstanding resource for learning about compliant shipping of dangerous goods / hazardous materials. Check out the webpage and learn how you can help to ensure that regulated shipments in commerce are properly prepared.

Why Do Skolnik drums reduce shipping risks?

January 28th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: HazMat, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Recent years in the global metals industry have been challenging. The uncertain economic climate, and slowing demand due to tariffs from key markets such as China, has softened the decade of growth. At the same time, opportunities have emerged for metal producers that have introduced some innovation. One area that is getting attention is the auto industry in which they are “lightweighting” their metals. “Lightweighting” is a term used to refer to metals that provide strength while reducing thickness and weight. In the auto industry, every 100 pounds of steel translates into a fuel economy increase of 1% to 2%. Therefore, some steel drum manufacturing companies are also “lightweighting” their drums in order to reduce costs. However, the drum industry and the auto industry are not alike in their projected goal. While safety is always a concern for an auto manufacturer, fuel economies do much to help sell cars. For steel drums, risk reduction of a packaging is our #1 priority, and the most common failures result from fork-lift punctures and nail punctures. In the US, 90% of steel drum failures are from poor handling. In order to overcome this type of failure, the design of the drum must be sound, especially in details such as steel thickness. Compared to other steel drum manufacturers, Skolnik builds drums that exceed industry standards and as a result, our drums are thicker and heavier. To our customers that ship critical contents, they know that increasing steel thickness reduces the risk of any type of puncture, resulting in the saving of many dollars of clean-up and lost contents expense.