Vacuum Lifter Safety You Can Live By! by Joe Landsverk

At Wood’s Powr-Grip® (WPG), we regularly receive calls from industrial safety managers requesting information about vacuum lifter safety and maintenance; and we are only too happy to help in any way we can. It’s good that there is a growing concern about worker and work place safety. According to the U.S. Dept of Labor’s (DOL) Commonly Used Statistics, there were 4,609 U.S. workers killed on the job in 2011–nearly 13 per day. It’s encouraging that this is a 7% decrease from 2010! But even one fatality is too many. The information goes on to say:

“Out of 4,114* worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2011, 721 or 17.5% were in construction. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by electrocution, struck by object, and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for nearly three out of five (57%) construction worker deaths in 2011*, BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] reports. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 410 workers’ lives in America every year.”

Well over half of the products manufactured by WPG are used in the construction industry. Vacuum cups and lifters are used extensively for installing windows, doors, building facades, counter tops, insulated metal panels, tile, appliances and countless other applications. In many ways, vacuum cups and below-the-hook (BTH) lifters are safety products in their own right: They provide quick and convenient ways to get a better grip on awkward loads, placing handlers at more advantageous and safer distance from load, and in some cases, they take the weight of the load completely off of the handler. However, the purpose of this series is to provide information addressing OSHA’s “Fatal Four” as they relate specifically to using vacuum attaching cups and below-the-hook lifters.

FALLS: (251 – 35% of the 721 fatalities in construction)

Whether you are working at height or at ground level, let’s face it: It’s dangerous work to handle awkward, large or heavy materials such as, glass, stone or metal! Sure, using vacuum attaching equipment helps workers to grip their loads more securely, but there are many other jobsite factors that influence slips, falls and knock-off accidents!

1. Fall protection devices: When working above ground (6 feet [1.8 m] or more above lower level):

a. Make sure that proper edge railings and decking is in place;
b. Make sure personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) and anchors are in place, are regularly inspected, tested and correct for the working height;
c. Don’t use vacuum cups or lifters to support or secure people, unless they are specifically designed as fall protection devices.

2. Lift and move plans: Always carefully inspect and plan the transfer route or fly zone prior to performing the actual lift. This helps prevent events that cause workers to slip, fall, get knocked over or knocked off above-ground structures.

a. Manual lifting with hand-held vacuum cups:

i. Level the path, remove tripping hazards and obstructions, and cover holes or openings;
ii. Know potential hazards, including wet/slippery areas, rugged or sloped terrain, overhangs and overhead obstructions;
iii. Identify resting or staging areas;
iv. Concentrate on the load, lifter and path during load movement;
v. Use a spotter to warn of upcoming hazard areas and to keep bystanders at a distance;

b. Below-the-hook lifters:

i. Identify overhead power lines and other potential obstructions or hazards;
ii. Practice the route and fly zone to determine the safest and most efficient transfer;
iii. Don’t lift a load higher than necessary or lift a load over people;
iv. Use tethers to control the load during the lift;
v. Use spotters to watch load movement throughout the lift and warn handlers of potential hazards;
vi. Keep bystanders out of the lift/fly zone during the transfer, using tape or barricades;
vii. Don’t leave suspended loads unattended;
viii. Know upcoming weather conditions and don’t attempt lifts during windy or potentially windy conditions.

3. Proper lifting techniques: Reduce slips and falls by making sure that workers know their own limits and are using tools and techniques that prevent an unexpected load movement or release. Such load incidents can cause workers or bystanders to lose their balance, resulting in falls and other injuries.

a. Know how much weight you can safely lift;
b. Don’t lift loads that exceed a vacuum cup’s maximum load capacity (WPG hand-held vacuum cups have maximum load capacities ranging between 15 lbs [7 kg] and 175 lbs [79 kg] per cup);
c. Don’t allow anything to interfere with free movement of a vacuum cup’s plunger, and don’t touch release tabs or the valve release lever during a lift;
d. Don’t lift when a vacuum cup’s red line is visible and check the vacuum indicator frequently during the lift;
e. Lift with your knees, not your back;
f. Start and stop slowly; when two or more are lifting, use a count-down to begin the lift in unison;
g. Check the attachment of vacuum cups under load before starting to walk;
h. Avoid jarring or bumping the load during transfer;
i. Don’t allow people to ride on below-the-hook lifters or the load being lifted;
j. Don’t attempt to lift cracked or broken materials with below-the-hook lifters;
k. Position a vacuum cup or below-the-hook lifter carefully, to prevent unexpected or accelerated shifts when the load is lifted, tilted or rotated.

Above all, remember that every lift and load transfer has the potential to go wrong! Even if you’ve done it a thousand times… especially if you’ve done it a thousand times… don’t let routine tempt you to drop your defenses. Oftentimes we scoff at imposed safety rules with the implied message, “it’s for your own good”. We may say to ourselves, “Are you kidding me? I’ve been doing this for X years”. At your next safety meeting, remember that 410 workers in our industry didn’t go home in 2011… (not sure about last year). Your safety really is your responsibility and–Something You Can Live By!

*1 U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA Commonly Used Statistics,




Green Span Partner Expands Facility

Huntsman Corp. Announces $78 Million Expansion Of Geismar Facility 

Investment will retain 397 jobs and result in more than 75 new direct and indirect jobs 

GEISMAR, La. — Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Jon M. Huntsman, Founder and Executive Chairman of Huntsman Corp., announced a $78 million investment at Huntsman’s Geismar chemical facility. Huntsman’s investment will yield a 50-kiloton increase in the facility’s output of methylene diphenyl isocyanate, or MDI – a key component of polyurethanes used in car seating, furniture and energy-saving insulation products. The investment will also fund extensive modernization of the facility’s operations. 

The Huntsman expansion will create 17 new direct jobs, with an average salary of $92,000, plus benefits. LED also estimates the project will result in 60 indirect jobs, for a total of 77 new jobs. In addition, the project will retain 397 existing jobs at the Geismar facility. An additional 100 construction jobs are expected to result from the project. The state’s strong business climate, the Geismar site’s competitiveness, its access to U.S. shale gas reserves, and the Louisiana location’s strong logistics base provided an advantage over competing sites internationally. 

Gov. Jindal said, “Today’s project is a great win for Louisiana. Huntsman evaluated its other facilities for this investment but chose Louisiana because of our strong business climate, incomparable workforce, energy infrastructure and access to shale gas reserves. Indeed, Huntsman is yet another company that will benefit not just from Louisiana’s rich natural resources, but from our increasingly competitive business climate and world-class pool of workers. Louisiana is centered in the middle of a natural gas boom because of our access to shale gas reserves, and it’s helping to create thousands of opportunities for our people.”

Huntsman Corp., based in The Woodlands, Texas, operates 75 facilities in 27 countries and serves customers in more than 100 countries. The specialty chemicals company supports more than 12,000 employees worldwide, including 700 in Louisiana, where it has a facility in Lake Charles.

The Geismar expansion is part of a global investment to support Huntsman’s production of MDI, which is used in energy-saving insulation products, cushioning for car seating and furniture, footwear adhesives and other applications. With strong ongoing demand for MDI, Huntsman evaluated its polyurethane business and is increasing efficiency and production at its U.S. facility in Geismar, as well as at its facility in the Netherlands. 

“The benefits of U.S. shale gas have significantly improved the economics of investing in U.S. facilities, and Huntsman has a number of other investments planned, which will take advantage of lower-cost natural gas,” said Jon M. Huntsman. “In making these investments, Huntsman has benefited from the support of Louisiana Economic Development and Ascension Parish Economic Development. We thank them for their cooperation and support.” 

Using improved process technology developed by Huntsman, the facility in Geismar will increase output to 500 kilotons of MDI, helping to support the company’s position as the leader in MDI production in the Americas region. The facility’s process improvement is under way, and Huntsman expects the upgrade to be completed by the end of 2014.

“We know that Huntsman was looking at alternative locations for this project and we sincerely appreciate their continued investment in the Geismar complex,” Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said. “Huntsman has been a superior corporate citizen of Ascension Parish and we look forward to many more years of mutual cooperation with their employees and management.” 

LED’s Business Expansion and Retention Group, or BERG, and regional economic development officials joined the company in initial discussions about the project in October 2012. To support Huntsman’s expansion, the state offered an incentives package that includes a $1.5 million Modernization Tax Credit, payable over five years. In addition, the company is expected to utilize the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

 “It’s a clear testament to the quality of our state and local business climate and the productivity of our workforce when companies that are already here continue to invest and add employees,” said President and CEO Mike Eades of the Ascension Economic Development Corp. 

About Huntsman

Huntsman is a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals through operating companies that manufacture products for a variety of global industries, including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging. Originally known for pioneering innovations in packaging and, later, for rapid and integrated growth in petrochemicals, Huntsman has approximately 12,000 employees and operates from multiple locations worldwide. The company recorded 2012 revenue of more than $11 billion. For more information, visit



Teamwork: Huntsman Collaborates with the Launch of Green Span Profiles’ Metal Panel Production

In December 2011, Huntsman teamed up with customer Green Span Profiles to launch the company’s insulated metal panel (IMP) production line at its Houston-area manufacturing facility. Green Span management team started this new venture after accumulating decades of experience in the metal construction industry. Huntsman’s team of experts helped Green Span optimize its IMP production process by providing the newest pentane-blown PIR foam technology, implementing thorough employee training programs and conducting the proper physical property foam testing.

Benefits of Insulated Metal Panels

IMPs have long stood as sturdy, high-performance building components in wall and roof sheathing applications. Consisting of coated steel facings with a rigid polyurethane foam core, IMPs provide a strong building enclosure by withstanding damage and creating air, water and vapor barriers, and offer long-term thermal stability. IMPs’ high insulation values significantly improve a building’s energy efficiency, reducing heating and cooling costs.

IMPs also provide architects and engineers with valuable design options, featuring made-to-order profile, length, thickness, color and surface finish. Another very significant benefit IMPs present is the vast reduction in installation time. IMPs significantly accelerate project completion without compromising quality, because the panels are a single-manufactured unit and can be installed in nearly any weather condition (extreme temperatures, high wind). IMPs also combine multiple components (both metal skins and insulation), eliminating additional steps to add insulation or a vapor or moisture barrier on-site. The panels result in a visually appealing, streamlined architectural appearance.

IMPs are used in multiple industrial, commercial and institutional applications. Some examples of industrial applications are cold storage facilities, manufacturing plants, including food processing facilities, and different types of warehouses. Commercial and institutional applications include shopping centers, schools, hospitals and sport arenas, among a wide variety of buildings.

Green Span Profiles

Huntsman customer Green Span Profiles specializes in the manufacture of insulated panels and is headquartered northwest of Houston in Waller, Texas. The company’s 70,000-square-foot manufacturing facility was constructed in 2011 using the most modern technology available worldwide. Huntsman provides Green Span with the chemical raw materials and technology to produce the PIR foam, which makes the core insulating layer of the steel-faced panels.

Sharing Experience and Providing Key Training

As Green Span initiated the trial phase of its production line in December 2011, representatives from Huntsman were on the ground at the manufacturing facility to assist with set-up and vital employee training. Engineer Technologist Michael Ritchie helmed Huntsman’s training team, who trained Green Span personnel on important product handling and safety issues.

By observing and interacting with both company leadership and employees working directly on the metal panel line, Huntsman made recommendations to optimize the production of PIR-insulated panels, troubleshoot, and implement procedures to standardize and streamline the start of each production run, the regular process controls and quality controls.

“We were confident in our decision when we chose Huntsman as our supplier for the chemicals required to make IMPs, says Kelly Ginn, President, Green Span. “From the planning stages to initial receipt of chemicals to commissioning and start-up, Huntsman personnel have met or exceeded our expectations. I find them to be exceptionally knowledgeable, responsive and eager to assist. They have approached the relationship as partners and worked with us as such.”

A True Collaboration from the Start

A true collaborative environment between Green Span and Huntsman was evident from the start. This type of relationship emerged during the initial phase, which included planning and design aspects, support from Huntsman’s Geismar, Louisiana plant personnel, as well as the definition of future commercial terms. The collaborative effort continued during the first three months of production. While Michael Ritchie and his team were able to offer safety training and their extensive experience with the insulation components of IMPs, Green Span’s team of experts shared their insight on the metal processing element of IMP manufacturing.

“The Green Span Profile team was extremely cooperative and was able to very easily adapt to any changes in the IMPs, processing procedures,” said Ritchie. “The knowledge that they have shared with Huntsman on metal handling combined with the polyurethanes foam expertise we offered made this start-up a seamless event.”

Through knowledge sharing and teamwork, Green Span and Huntsman developed a supplier/customer relationship based on service and commitment, and the plant officially began production in January 2012.

Up and Running

These efforts culminated in a customer open house in April 2012,. This brought together many Green Span suppliers and customers who participated in a meet-and-greet event, which included an unbeatable crawfish boil. The local residents clearly had the upper hand during lunch, demonstrating the most efficient crawfish peeling techniques. Representatives from Huntsman were on hand to conduct foam cup demonstrations and to casually talk to attendees about the odds and ends of PIR foam, its history, fire properties, and growth in the construction industry.

From the initial design phase, to employee process and safety training, product stewardship and final panel property tests, Huntsman and Green Span worked together to boost efficiency across the full spectrum of its IMP manufacturing processes. Huntsman is looking forward to ensuring that Green Span’s IMP production facility is not only up and running, but that it will continue to serve its customers safely and efficiently for years to come.


About Green Span Profiles

Green Span Profiles entered the insulated panel market in May of 2009 with the goal of becoming the foremost promoter and manufacturer of IMPs. In 2011, the business plan culminated with the construction of a 70,000-square-foot manufacturing facility strategically located Northwest of Houston in Waller, TX. Green Span Profiles is proud to offer distinct products and services anchored in an underlying affinity for cultivating successful, personal business relationships with our valued customers.

Insulated metal panels (IMPs) are premier building products on the leading edge of innovation. The panels are formed by a continuously poured-in-place, manufacturing process which binds interior and exterior steel facings to a polyisocyanurate, insulating foam core. Having the traits listed below, the applications are limitless.

  • Exceptional thermal perfomance (2.5″ = R-20)
  • Superior spanning capability
  • Accelerated installation times
  • Cost-effective pricing
  • Recycled and recyclable
  • Rigid feel
  • Streamlined architectural appearance

IMP wall panels can be installed both vertically and horizontally and are available in a myriad of different profiles and finishes.  Within our vision, there is not a building project in existence that would not benefit in some fashion from the utilization of IMPs.

Green Span Profiles manufactures a diverse line of seven different insulated wall panel profiles. Panels are available in 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5 and 6 inch thicknesses. Available steel gauges are 26, 24 and 22-gauge. A standing seam roof profile is available as well as a mineral wool cored profile. These products serve the commercial/industrial, architectural and low temperature market segments. Along with our manufactured products, Green Span Profiles offers a collection of services including technical support, engineering, estimating and drafting.

Our diverse management team is comprised of specialists in all areas of business, engineering and technical service. The team’s more than 100 years of cumulative work experience includes specific experience in manufacturing and servicing the commercial/industrial and architectural metal construction industry.

In today’s market there appears to be little time devoted to establishing loyal, trustworthy, long-lasting business relationships. That is why we are committed to our personalized business approach – one that focuses on creating individualized experiences to meet all customer needs. At Green Span Profiles, nothing supersedes building a business founded in trust, integrity and respect.

Green Span Profiles is proud to be a domestically owned, privately operated, IMP manufacturer.


Looking for Qualified Talent

The Green Span Profiles team has an immediate need for experienced sales personnel and representation.  Our state of the art production equipment coupled with our “whatever it takes” mentality can give your customers exactly what they’ve grown to expect; a quality product, quickly available at a competitive price.  Ask anyone who’s dealt with us and we’re confident they’ll say we’re a breath of fresh air and a throw back to how this business used to be.  We’re proud to be domestically owned and privately operated.  If you’re looking for what’s next, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’re looking forward to it.


Welcome to Green Span Profiles News

Green Span Profiles  entered the insulated panel market in May of 2009  with the goal of becoming the  foremost promoter and manufacturer of  IMPs. In 2011, the business plan  culminated with the construction of a  70,000-square-foot manufacturing facility  strategically located Northwest of Houston in Waller, TX. Green Span Profiles is  proud to offer distinct products and services anchored in an underlying  affinity for cultivating successful, personal business relationships with our  valued customers.

Stay tuned for valuable news from Green Span Profiles as well as the latest information about our industry and products.


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