Developed by the International Union of Operating Engineers, this PowerPoint is one module out of three, all of which are part of a 2-hour Generator Safety Awareness Program. This presentation covers hazards specific to the use of fixed generators, and also provides helpful information to ensure that workers and others using such equipment remain safe.
November 17, 2017
Topics We Will Cover
- How often do you inspect the generator?
- How often do you test run the generator?
- How long should you test run the generator?
- Name two relevant OSHA standards.
- Name two safety hazards when testing a generator.
- For fixed generators, what is the ready position?
- Which of the following have relevance in the inspection and test run of a generator?
- Personal protective equipment
- Asbestos precautions
- Hearing protection
- Lock-out / Tag-out procedures
- Log books
- Understand each step of a prestart checklist
- Understand the operations and safe parameters of a fixed generator during a test run
- Complete each step of a prestart checklist
- Conduct a safe test run
- Place the fixed generator back into the ready position
- Be aware of the importance of weekly inspections and test runs
- Contribute to a culture of safe work practices
- Cite relevant OSHA standards and other safety considerations
Engineers and building operators should inspect and test run the back-up generator system once a week for a minimum of thirty (30) minutes.
Think about what this means:
(1) Inspect and (2) test run (3) once per week or (4) thirty minutes
What are some of the reasons ALL of these are so important? List reasons on flip chart, once complete, post for the remainder of the week so students can refer to periodically.
- System readiness
- Disasters/power outages are unpredictable
- Required by code
- Life support
- Continuity of Operations (COOP)
- These test-runs are necessary to ensure the reliability of the emergency power system. Back-up generators should always be in a state of readiness because of the critical functions they support.
Before a test run of a generator is conducted, workers need to be aware of proper prestart safety procedures.
What do you think some of those procedures need to be? Ask the class what they think some of the proper safety procedures would be, list them on a flip chat and post them for the class to see for the rest of the course.
What OSHA standards do you think apply? Additionally, ask what standards from OSHA apply to these safe start practices. Again, post on a flip chart and post for the remainder of the class.
Some Relevant OSHA Safety Standards
29 CFR 1910 Subpart S – Safety-related Work Practices.
- 1910.331 – Scope.
- 1910.333 – Selection and use of work practices.
- 1910.334 – Use of equipment.
- 1910.335 – Safeguards for personnel protection.
- 29 CFR 1910.95: Occupational Noise Exposure.
- 29 CFR 1910.133: Eye and Face Protection.
- 29 CFR 1910.147: Lock Out / Tag Out.
Open discussion with the class on proper hearing protection standard 29 CFR 1910.95 when working around a running generator.
OSHA Safety Standards: 29 CFR 1910.133: Eye and Face Protection
Open discussion with the class on proper eye and face protection standard 29 CFR 1910.133 when working around electrical equipment.
Image on left, face shields hanging and ready for use and on the right a United States Navy Electrician's Mate wearing a face shield while checking for bad fuses on a lighting panel aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
29 CFR 1910.147: Lock Out / Tag Out
Open discussion with the class on the Lock-Out Tag-Out standard 29 CFR 1910.147 Provide each student with a lock-out tag-out tag and the proper way to fill out the tag.
Manufacturer procedures should always be followed when conducting prestart and test runs.
-A sample of a maintenance and inspection procedures prestart checklist for generators well as a test run log
The following few pages provide a sample of a basic generator prestart and test run operational check list and should be expanded upon depending on the needs of your facilities.
Building: ______________ Generator Number: ____________
Maintenance and Inspection Procedure for Emergency Generators
Clean Around The Generators Area
Check Battery and Rack for Corrosion
Check Battery Water Level
Check Charge Operation and Rate
Check Engine Radiator Level
Check Engine Oil
Check Hoses and Clamps for Leaks
Check for Leaks around Generator
Check Fuel Tank Level
Test Run Generator:
- Oil Pressure:______
- Generator Temperature:________
- Meter Hours Start Time:______
- Meter Hours Stop Time:______
Set Controls for Generator to Start in an Emergency
List Repairs/Maintenance Required
Checked By: _____________________
Prestart Check: Review the generator log book
- Note the reading where the hour meter stopped. Is the reading on the generator the same?
- Are there any maintenance repairs logged?
- Any unusual comments from the last test run?
- Any fuel deliveries?
- Anything that may affect the running of the generator at this time?
Show the class an actual emergency generator logbook and review the entries.
Prestart Check: Turn off the generator
- Never do a prestart check with the generator in the ready position. In order to begin your prestart checklist you need to first make sure the generator does not come on while you are checking the various components.
- Turn the generator from the ready position to the OFF position and tag it!
- Stay in the moment! If you are called to do another task put the generator back in the ready (or auto) setting.
- NEVER EVER leave to do something else with the generator turned off, it will be rendered useless if there were to be a power failure!
Prestart Check: Check and clean the area around the generator
- In outdoor units, trash and debris may have collected or blown in by the wind.
- Look to see that the area around the generator is free of debris. Paper and plastic can be drawn into the fan and lodged or entangled with the fan or against the radiator. This could potentially cause overheating of the engine.
- Look for objects that could be or have already been sucked into the fan.
- Check for rodent nests. Animals can cause a great deal of damage to equipment that sits unused or is outside. Check the area occasionally for nests or signs of rodent activity. Most diesel engines have warm water jacket heaters where animals love to nest.
Animals could build nests near a generator with a warm water jacket such as those in diesel generators.
This is not a generator, but it does show what happens with a squirrel’s nest in a cooling tower fan. This is the result of starting the fan.
Animals can cause a great deal of damage to equipment that sits unused or is outside of the building. Check the area occasionally for nest or signs of rodent activity.
GOOD OR BAD?
GOOD OR BAD?
GOOD OR BAD?
Mechanical rooms from time to time become storage areas. Make sure that the area around the generator is 1) free of obstacles that may inhibit good air flow around the generator, and 2) free of material that could potentially become a fire hazard or a trip and fall hazard.
Prestart Check: Check battery & battery rack for corrosion
REMEMBER, batteries can be explosive! Make sure you have the proper PPE on before you continue!
What PPE would be recommended in this situation?
Revisit proper PPE for handling of batteries.
List examples and post.
- Splash shield
- What else?
- Check the battery and rack for soundness.
- Clean the battery.
- Check the terminals
- look for corrosion or poor connections. Poor connections of the battery terminals could prevent the generator from starting in an emergency situation. Poor connections of the battery terminals could prevent the generator from starting in an emergency situation.
-Example of clean battery rack and battery with corroded battery terminals.
Prestart Check: Check battery water level
- Check to ensure that each cell has water and at the proper level. Carefully remove the caps from each cell of the battery to check for proper water level. If the level is low add distilled water to the cell.
Prestart Check: Check charge operation and rate
- Make sure that the charger is on.
- Ventilate the area.
- Check the charging rate. Batteries will lose their charge from sitting unused for long periods of time. Most generators are equipped with battery chargers to assure that the generator has ample power to start the generator when needed.
- Make sure it is set at the proper voltage.
Prestart Check: Check engine radiator coolant level
Safety First! Practice safe work habits.
NEVER OPEN THE RADIATOR CAP WHEN THE GENERATOR IS HOT!! Remember to slowly open the radiator cap. Failure to do so could result in the person opening the cap (if the radiator is under pressure) being scalded. Make sure the generator has the proper amount of antifreeze for the winter months. After a period of time antifreeze can break down and become corrosive. Develop a preventative maintenance schedule for flushing the radiator system.
- Fluid is the lifeblood of the generator’s engine.
- Check the radiator for the proper coolant level.
- Remember to slowly open the radiator cap. Failure to do so could result in the person opening the cap (if the radiator is under pressure) being scalded.
- In the fall, check the antifreeze level for proper low temperature settings for your area. Make sure the generator has the proper amount of antifreeze for the winter months.
- Flush the radiator system annually to avoid the buildup of sludge. After a period of time antifreeze can break down and become corrosive. Develop a preventative maintenance schedule for flushing the radiator system.
NEVER OPEN THE RADIATOR CAP WHEN THE GENERATOR IS HOT!
Prestart Check: Check engine oil
- Check the oil level to see if it is in the safe operational zone. If not, check the manufacture’s specifications for the proper oil for that generator. Different generators require different oil viscosities to ensure proper lubrication during heavy load demands.
- Add oil until you reach the proper level and note the addition of oil in the generator log.
- Make sure the level is in the safe operational zone or range.
- Change the oil annually or after an extended operational period.
- It’s cheaper to change the oil than to have the engine replaced.
Prestart Check: Check hoses and clamps
Time is an enemy of rubber. Hoses may begin to show signs of dry rotting. Under operating pressures these hoses can burst sending hot fluids flying in all directions and could cause severe burns to individuals in the immediate area. Additionally, the same thing could happen during an emergency call for power while you are not there. If the hoses were to rupture while you were absent from the area, the engine could suffer irreversible damage and the unit could be out of commission for an extended period of time.
- Check for sound hose connections.
- Examine each for dry rotting or cracking.
- Check for leaks.
Prestart Check: Check fan belts
Stop! Recheck that the generator cannot come on automatically before you continue. Do not place your hand near the fan or the fan belts until you do so! Once done, check the fan belts for signs of being worn, cracked, dry rotted or stretched. If so have the belts replaced before continuing.
On the belts check for:
- Dry rot.
- Proper adjustment.
- Worn or frayed areas.
Prestart Check: Check for leaks around generator
- Look for any sign of fluids on the floor under the hoses and connections.
- If it is an outdoor generator check the structure for:
- Leaky roof.
- Dampers not closing.
- Good seals on doors.
Prestart Check: Check fuel tank level
- Check and ensure that the fuel tank is topped off monthly.
- Make sure that the vent line is free of obstructions.
- Make sure that the fill and vent lines are of the same size.
Here is an example of a bird’s nest in the underground fuel tanks vent.
Prestart Check: Check fuel system
If your generator has fuel separators, drain them down to ensure that there is no water and/ or sediment in them prior to starting the engine.
Fuel tanks can accumulate moisture from condensation that can be drawn into the generator’s fuel system. Fuel oil separators placed before the generator enable engineers to remove any build up of water in the system before it enters the engine.
Prestart Check: Check warning controls or lights
If your generator has warning lights, test each light to ensure it is in working condition.
Check all system indicating lights to assure that they are functioning properly.
Test Run: Before you start
Remove all tags from the control panel.
Test Run: Start generator
After all of the different systems of the generator have been checked, start and begin the test run of the generator.
Don the proper hearing protection when running a generator.
Test Run: Check the exhaust stack at start up
It should run clean after a few seconds.
Test Run: Check the following systems
- Oil Pressure.
- Water Temperature.
- Meter Hours Start Time.
→ If possible test run your generator under load conditions.
Test Run: Safety reminder
Remember when running your generator you are generating electricity!
Test Run: Transfer switches
Transfer switches when installed should transfer from commercial power to the generated power source.
Test Run: Transfer switches (Accident)
- The lugs on this transfer switch became loose from expansion and contraction, due to lack of preventive maintenance. Once the lugs start to become loose, the cables will heat up due to a poor connection. Periodically, preventive maintenance on these lugs has to be performed. “ALWAYS REMEMBER TO FOLLOW STRICT SAFETY PROCEDURES TO ENSURE THAT THE POWER SOURCE IS OFF AND DRAINED!!!”
- Burnt lugs (due to lack of preventive maintenance).
Test Run: Completing the generator test run
- Cool down period: Once the generator has gone through a test run under simulated load conditions, the generator will enter the next phase, the cool down time. Some generators have a built in tier for cool down periods after a test run.
- Log in any changes or unusual events and findings during the test run.
Some generators have a built in tier for cool down periods after a test run.
Test Run: Reset the generator control switch
When the test run is completed, always make sure that the generator is in the ready position in the event of a power disruption or failure.
- Set generator controls back to “ready to start” so it will be ready in an emergency.
- Remove any tag that you may have placed at the control panel.
Background and Rationale
- Importance of weekly inspections and test runs.
Important Safety Considerations
- Relevant OSHA standards and other safety considerations.
- How to contribute to a culture of safe work practices.
- What is involved in each step of a prestart checklist.
Conducting a Test Run
- How to conduct a safe test run.
- The operations and safe parameters of a fixed generator during a test run.
- Placing the fixed generator back into the ready position.
This publication was supported by the National Institute Of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U45ES006182. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.