Operations and OSHA at Central Region Meeting

By Jessica Meisinger, PhD, Director
Communications, Science and Education, National Renderers Association

Members of the National Renderers Association (NRA) Central Region discussed some pressing issues at their June meeting in La Crosse, WI, with a full day of updates and technical presentations.

Kevin Jenkins, Jenkins Centrifuge Company, described how the family company began rebuilding centrifuges over 40 years ago after a man showed up needing a centrifuge repaired. He explained that since every rendering plant has at least one centrifuge, there is a large need for machine repair. When a new or refurbished centrifuge arrives at Jenkins, the bowl is cleaned and each piece of the centrifuge, including the bearings, seals, and O-rings, is checked and balanced. Once the strips start wearing, the bowl will start to erode quickly, increasing costs. Two key pieces of advice Jenkins shared were to use a brass retainer rather than steel because brass is better for alignment, and to have the centrifuge checked regularly rather than waiting for something to break. As there are no real indicators of wear, it’s best to keep track of how many hours the centrifuge has run.

Jay Wilkison, Chem-Aqua, showed that effective boiler water treatments are vital to minimize energy, water, and maintenance costs and increase the life of capital investments. The main concerns with boiler maintenance are corrosion, scale deposits, and carryover, all of which lower efficiency and damage equipment. Wilkison noted that a reliable water softener operation is critical because hard water is the number one cause of deposits. Water should be tested every day because it doesn’t take long for deposits to build, which increases energy costs, chemical costs, and tube failure. Test strips designed specifically for boilers are important and should measure in one part per million (ppm) increments, which many can’t do. Renderers should also make sure their reagents are still working. Cloudy water is a good indicator of hard water.

Mark Lies, an attorney with Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, ran a lively discussion on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. He urged renderers to be very careful and find out about the safety policies of contractors so renderers won’t be held liable if an accident should occur. Lies advised stopping a project if a contractor is doing something unsafe or wrong instead of correcting the problem. OSHA is starting very aggressive enforcement of its policies and renderers should know their rights. He revealed that employees do not have to talk to OSHA inspectors and if renderers receive a letter from OSHA, make absolutely sure to answer it honestly. If renderers receive an audit from their insurance agent, either correct the problem or respond to the insurance company about why the renderer’s current program works. Lies recommended running a request for root cause analysis through an attorney so it is subject to attorney-client privilege.

If a company has an incentive program for no lost days due to injury or illness, it could be seen as encouraging underreporting, Lies warned, making it a good idea to have policies for safety reporting, too. If a company reports any major injuries or an employee spends the night in a hospital, OSHA needs to be notified within eight hours. Lies said it might be a good idea to have an inspector watch a video about rendering as they often will know little to nothing about the industry. He also advised against letting an inspector wander around the plant, that renderers should insist upon accompanying him/her. In addition, OSHA employees might try to bring along a community activist or union organizer. If this happens, make sure to have a safety committee or someone knowledgeable on the 10-hour OSHA course accompany him/her instead. Finally, each company needs to explain to employees their rights, such as OSHA has a right to talk to employees but employees have a right not to talk to OSHA if they don’t want. Employees also don’t have to be photographed or recorded and have the right to have a company representative in the interview with them.

Vanessa Stewart, Novus, gave an update on the company’s petition to expand allowable use of ethoxyquin to better preserve rendered products. Novus has received a letter from Dr. Dan McChesney, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance/Center for Veterinary Medicine, saying it is legal to use ethoxyquin at 150 ppm on rendered ingredients until the end of this year, which should get the industry through the difficult summer months. The amount applied must appear on the bill of lading. Novus is still trying to amend the requirements with hopes the petition will be approved in the near future. The company will soon be launching a product combining both the 150 ppm ethoxyquin and 200 ppm butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene.

The meeting concluded with a decision to donate $5,000 to the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation and $5,000 to NRA’s International Market Development Committee. The Central Region will hold its next meeting in Door County, WI, in June 2014.

August 2013 RENDER | back