It Came From Hangar 5!
Environmental and safety considerations for aircraft painting operations
By Michelle Garetson
No, this is not a trailer for an upcoming science-fiction thriller. It could be, however, just as scary if your maintenance operations are not keeping up with environmental and safety compliance issues. Many aspects of aircraft maintenance involve hazardous chemicals and materials — especially those operations that offer painting services.
How long has it been since you last reviewed with your staff the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)? Would they know where to look for them if they needed them in a hurry? Fred Workley's column (AMT March 1999, pg. 60) discussed "Right to Know" requirements, MSDS, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, so it might be worth taking a second look at his article.
What if you were all of a sudden tasked by your company to design and develop a plan for a new hangar or paint facility? Who would you call first; FAA? OSHA? EPA?
"Actually, you'd have to call all three," replies Mike Parnell of BizJet in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Parnell, a painter himself, was hired by BizJet to design, develop, furnish (with people and equipment), and ultimately, work in a brand new paint facility at their site in Tulsa. This is the second time Parnell has been called upon by a company to help with plans for a paint shop.
He had to contact FAA, OSHA, and the EPA to tell of BizJet's plans and get approval. Because he and his group had done their homework well in advance of contacting the various associations, when it came time to meet, the organizations were pleased with the groundwork accomplished by BizJet and gave them the "thumbs up" to the plan.
"We wanted to be way ahead of what was required of us," explains Parnell, "and I think FAA, OSHA, and EPA realized that." BizJet worked with the local branch of the EPA in Oklahoma, which is the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality). The DEQ keeps businesses up to date with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance issues and would also be the first "police" on the scene if there were any violations of regulations or non-compliant activity. Local EPA offices differ from state to state, for example, in Wisconsin, the local EPA is the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Various state environmental offices are listed through a link on the Environmental Resource Center's web site, www.ercweb.com/LINKS.htm, or call ERC at (919) 469-1585.
Do your homework Nick Rettler, paint operation manager for Gulfstream in Appleton, WI (formerly K-C Aviation), was faced with a somewhat different challenge in developing the addition to their paint facility that was ultimately completed in November 1997. Rettler was literally on the ground floor in helping to shape the facility. This plan began initially with a proposal to the parent company, Kimberly-Clark. Rettler and group, which included Gary Hartwig, Gulfstream-Appleton's present general manager, who at the time was director of service operations; were told to develop a financial plan as well as to outline for management the use and payback schedule for the facility. And, this was all to be done in addition to their regular duties.
"We visited several of our competitor's facilities all over the country," explains Rettler, "to see what we would need for our place. Everyone was very open and helpful with information — giving us the pros and cons of setting up a new shop." Parnell echoed those words in his research for the BizJet shop. Prior to construction, he visited various paint facilities to check out what they had done in their designs.
"Every one of the places I went to was very open with what they went through," says Parnell, "and were especially helpful with EPA issues. Very open communication at all shops."