HELP Meeting Minutes 



 Date:    March 15, 2000

Place:    Chubb Group of Insurance Companies,  601 Union St, #3800, Seattle, WA

 Time:    9:00-11:00 AM


I.         Welcome by Meeting Host, Carol Sangster: Introductions for Speakers & Jim Denovan

Scope of  Presentations  -  Both presentations were arranged as a response to a question raised during January’s H.E.L.P. Meeting regarding Infrared  electrical equipment surveys.   Chubb’s experience in using IR technology to prevent electrical and mechanical property losses for the last 6 years is shared during today’s first presentation.   Skeptical Electrical was invited back as follow-up presentation to demonstrate other instruments for electrical safety and power quality testing.

II.      Jim Denovan’s Report of  2/29/00 HELP Steering Committee Meeting

Summary  -  The purpose of  H.E.L.P. Meetings was re-affirmed.   The meeting dates for the rest of the year were  confirmed along with guidelines for speaker presentations and meeting host responsibilities.


III.   Don Carpenter (Chubb Insurance):  “Infrared Camera Surveys for Electrical Safety”


A.      Basics of Infrared (IR) Technology    an electronic method to convert infrared energy (heat) into visible light.  Camera-based technology has been developed to measure emitted IR energy.  Depending upon the type of camera and options, IR measurements  are either qualitative (indicates temperature differentials) or quantitative (a precise temperature reading).   An object’s “emittance properties” is a measure of  how well its surface emits radiation.  Emittance characteristics can vary with the material’s surface condition, ambient temperature changes, moisture levels, and other conditions that might be present during a survey.  


B.      Current Applications of IR Thermography  -  electrical equipment evaluations (printed circuit board testing), manufacturing processes (motor bearings),  roof/insulation evaluations (moisture detection), underground leak detection, medical diagnostic devices (Don showed an image of blood flow in a patient’s hand), police/military applications (origins of IR technology development – night vision goggles, targeting systems).  Any object which radiates heat  can be imaged with an IR camera.


C.      Benefits of Electrical Inspections Using IR Technology  -  an efficiency means for early warning of potential problems that can result in partial or complete electrical failure:


1)       Prevention of Electrical Failure & Ensuing Loss Potential  -  from direct and collateral damage to wiring systems, connected equipment (MIS/EDP, electrical switchgear, processing instruments, long-term continuously run R&D experiments, etc.)


2)       Detection of Critical Problems can improve efficiency in planning shutdowns for repairs, which might otherwise have negative impacts from business interruption in the event of electrical failure.


3)       IR Surveys are Non-Intrusive & Rapid as inspections are performed during normal operations


4)       Cost Efficiencies  - aside from the reasons listed above,  the ability to identify the problem source accurately results in  reduced maintenance costs because repairs are done in a focused manner and  on a non-emergency basis.  IR report documentation can be used for trending purposes and comparisons with future IR surveys of critical equipment


D.      Images of  Problems Found during Chubb IR Surveys  -  Don showed color IR (and corresponding digital) images of electrical equipment problems.   He also outlined what your certified IR Surveyor should  provide to document their survey  results:


*Color Infrared Image

*Corresponding Digital Image of the Equipment

*Recommendations for Corrective Action

*Prioritization of Problem Discrepancies Identified


E.       Recommendations for Special Electrical Equipment:  Transformers - the following recommendations apply to property owners (and  tenants with critical business operations that are dependent upon reliable electrical service) in order to reduce oil-filled transformer failures:


1)       Annual external inspection by qualified electrical personnel  

2)       Annual transformer oil analysis by a qualified testing laboratory

3)       Annual IR thermography inspection


Don had a progressive series of  IR images and digital images of a transformer with a heat build-up problem and the resulting fire of a transformer that had the same undetected problem at another site.   Every building occupant should know who owns the transformer equipment providing power to their building; and they should also know how it is maintained.


F.       Conclusions  -  Infrared thermography is an effective loss control technique which can prevent serious property damage, bodily injury, and business interruption.  IR surveys are relatively inexpensive as they provide immediate diagnostic results which translate to efficiencies in problem resolution with minimal business interruption exposure.  The costs for IR camera equipment ownership and certification training, however,  can be prohibitive to individual property owners.  Top of the Line AGEMA 570 Cameras as used by Chubb can cost as much as $50,000 a piece.   Six years ago Chubb had one camera; today Chubb owns 26 cameras and has 54 certified thermographers.   Such investment was not a hard decision to make considering for example the following results during 1999 alone:   $25.9 Million in physical damage loss producing conditions were identified during 1,031 IR surveys completed worldwide; one of these loss potential conditions found would have cost Chubb $6 Million alone .  Chubb’s 1998 IR surveys resulted in savings of $22.9 Million.


Handouts:     Chubb Biotech Loss Lessons, Sample IR Report, NFPA 70B,  IRI Article (Power Quality)

                        [Copies are available by calling Carol Sangster at (206) 224-4761]   



IV.    Mark Voigtsberger (Skeptical Electrical):  “Electrical Power Monitoring Instruments”

           Mark demonstrated six instruments used for electrical safety and power quality testing applications:


A.     Harmonics Analyzer  -  used to identify harmonic distortion (variations of voltage or current

waveforms) in electrical circuits and power panels.  Harmonics can expose electrical insulation

to abnormal voltage stress and cause electrical breakdown.  


B.     Power Quality Analyzer  -  a multi-function instrument used to evaluate the quality of a building’s incoming electrical power; it measures power surges, voltage sags, and frequency


C.     3-Lamp Tester  -  a basic device for receptacle testing: grounding wire, potential AC wiring problem conditions 


Note:  Watch for the June, 2000 Occupational Safety & Health Magazine issue; an article written by Mark on use of this instrument will be featured.


D.     Wiring Analyzer/Impedance Meter  -  an instrument used to verify correct wiring of an electrical circuit;  measures AC (alternating current) resistance (impedance)


E.     Multimeter -  used to accurately measure voltage current whether AC or DC.   Multimeters using a Root-Mean-Squared (RMS) sampling strategy are the best


F.      Clamp Ammeter – a device to measure electric current (amperes)


Handouts:    “Electrical Power Problems That Produce Heat” 

                    [Copies are available by calling Carol Sangster at (206) 224-4761]



V.       Regulatory & Other Information Updates  -  Group Discussion


A.     New CA Law (Worker Comp Claims Handling)  -  Carol Sangster said the state of California passed a new law at the beginning of the year that impacts how insurance companies are to handle California Workers Compensation claims.   The law is designed to protect and individual’s privacy by severely restricting the medical  information an insurer can provide about California W/C claimants to their employers.


B.     New Federal OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Protection Requirements   -  The new regulations will require use of self-sheathing needles.


C.     Hazardous Waste Handling Issues & Costs Rising  -  Brad Gong of ICOS reported their recent experience with an unannounced, large, radioactive waste cost increase.   They use Allied Technology Group (ATG) to transport low-level radioactive waste to Handford.   It is suspected that the cost increase may be a move by ATG to discontinue handling small biotech company radioactive wastes, while concentrating on  serving  the institutional radioactive waster generators (hospitals and universities).   ATG’s cost saving “suggestion” was to transport radioactive waste to their Seattle facility.   With that suggestion being unacceptable from a liability standpoint, Brad would like to hear about other companies’ experiences and discuss future options at the next H.E.L.P. Meeting.



VI.    Next Meeting Agenda   -   Biomedical Waste Rules & Regulations Update


Next Meeting:           May 17, 2000  at  9:00-11:00 AM

Meeting Site:     ICOS’s Canyon Park facility in Bothell, WA