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IAEI Magazine | Author: Greg Smith
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Greg Smith

Greg Smith is a nationally certified product safety engineer (NCE) for MET Laboratories, with 18 years of experience in product evaluations. Greg can be reached at 800-321-4655, or on his cell phone 919-524-4555, or via e-mail


Not Suitable for Medical Use — Electrical Safety Testing Under Attack

You’re on the operating table, the surgery is almost over. The procedure has gone well. The doctors and nurses are walking in liquid on the floor covered with antiseptic, your blood, and other fluids. As your doctor is making the final repairs, a nurse is at the computer typing in some data; then she turns to assist the doctor, steadying herself with one hand on the computer monitor. As she touches the doctor, the faulty PC sends its stray current through both of them and directly into your heart. They feel almost nothing, but you are especially vulnerable and in a few seconds, it’s too late, the damage has been done.

Inside the Non-Certified Product

In the product safety profession, we consider the six hazards: shock, energy, fire, injury, chemical and radiation. Of these six hazards, shock is the most common, the most deadly, and the most difficult to prevent. Energy can melt a bracelet or ring, but does not generally cause the heart to stop. To a great degree, fire can be extinguished or avoided by leaving the area quickly, and mechanical product injuries are less common and not as often fatal. Chemical and radiation hazards are less common still, and have available more countermeasures for remedies and treatment. Shock is the invisible enemy, the deadly surprise waiting for the unprepared and the unprotected.

Warning: Electrical Equipment May Be Hazardous To Your Healthcare

Health care facilities are an integral part of our lives. We regularly visit them ourselves and take our loved ones to them for care. We assume that we are taking them for help and improvement, and that the technology being used will not cause harm. We think of electrical power as something that exists for our benefit, as a convenience or a tool. Electrical equipment surrounds us and we rarely consider the potential dangers that lie within.

Product Safety Field Evaluations and Construction Projects

The Laws. In many jurisdictions, state and local laws require all electrical equipment to be certified by an approved independent third-party testing laboratory. Often, these laws even impose or levy fines and imprisonment for violation! For a facility owner, or an electrical or general contractor, these laws can be an advantage, because many times, the cost of certification can be passed on to the equipment manufacturer or distributor. After all, it is their responsibility to provide a piece of equipment or system that has been evaluated and tested for electrical safety.


Early Morning Hotel Fire

It had happened a couple of times before — that unmistakable sound of the fire alarm in my hotel room in the middle of the night. Once before it had been a false alarm, another time someone had left food on the stovetop too long.
Blog posted 2/21/2012

Does Somebody Famous Have to Die?

Tony Ballew, 44, father of Amanda and Amy, husband to Alice, died when he was working on an extrusion machine at an industrial packaging plant, February 19, 2010, in Wilson, North Carolina.
Blog posted 08/12/2010

Electrical Safety for the Spanish Speaker

If you’re reading this, we can assume you probably went to high school, maybe college? Imagine that you went to live or work for an extended period of time in, for example, Chile, Spain or Mexico — you would have to learn Spanish eventually, right? How long would it take you? Most likely you would be able to learn some common words and key phrases quickly, especially with a little help. But what about real communication, such as safety training and discussion of technical issues? This takes time and real effort to learn, and requires access to learning materials and teachers.
Blog posted 04/1/2010

Product Safety Incidents: "I told you so” just isn’t good enough!

Explosion and deaths in North Carolina from non-certified industrial machinery. In 2004, the West Pharmaceutical plant exploded killing several people and injuring many more. The cause of the explosion was non-certified equipment operating in an area containing explosive dust. The incident was a tragedy that likely could have been avoided.
Blog posted 02/5/2010

Is That Medical Equipment?

During an evaluation of equipment at a hair treatment doctor’s office, we found a patient device for treating hair loss with the use of lasers. With this piece of equipment, the patient sits in a chair, and the laser "hat” sits slightly above the head. To prepare for the procedure, the top of the patient’s head is covered with a special gel to make the procedure work.
Blog posted 12/17/2009

Politics + Electricity = Death

From the perspective of those involved in electrical safety, interference with the resolution of hazards and potential hazards should never be tolerated. There is a simple reason for this: Many of us have seen the countless ways electricity has been misused.
Blog posted 11/23/2009

"It’s Just Two Little Wires”

It’s a pleasure to be among the first to participate in the IAEI web blog. For those of you who know me, you know I’ll be writing about Product Safety. My goal is to provide an inside look at this profession, drawing from the experiences and issues we deal with regularly. Since Product Safety is a specialty area, many of the things we do and the situations we encounter are not widely known. In an attempt to tell some stories about this work, it will be necessary to change or omit names of individuals, companies, and locations in the interest of privacy and discretion. I’m hoping as we move forward that others will comment and add to the discussion. Also, I’ll be looking for input from any of you reading this, in case you are interested in a particular aspect of Product Safety. If I’m not sure about the issue or answer, I’ll check with my colleagues and friends for help.
Blog posted 11/16/2009