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 September 2006 Spotlight

Motorcycles, Dragsters and Safety

by Richard Wilhelm

Late last month, hundreds of motorcyclists converged on the towns of Danville and Bowling Green in western Kentucky for the seventh annual Touchstone Energy Motorcycle Charity Run. The idea for this event originated with Frank Owen Brockman, safety and loss control coordinator at Farmer’s Rural Electric (a Touchstone Energy cooperative) and a member of ASTM International Committee F18 on Electrical Protective Equipment for Workers since 1998.

Frank Brockman and his daughter Alexandra pose with a check for more than $6,000 raised during the 2003 motorcycle run for the WHAS Crusade for Children.

“I have a bike, and I thought it would be a good idea to have a ride in which other members and employees of the cooperatives could gather together to ride and get to know each other,” says Brockman. In its first year the run brought in $935 for the Crusade for Children, a long-running charity telethon broadcast by television station WHAS. The effort raises money for organizations that serve special needs children in all 120 counties in Kentucky, as well as 50 counties in southern Indiana. The bikers raised $3,700 in 2005, bringing to $21,000 the total amount amassed prior to this year’s event.

While the motorcycle event was originally a circular run, it now has an eastern and western leg. Bikers gather in Danville and Bowling Green and all head toward the finishing point, Elizabethtown. While the event originally attracted Kentucky-based riders, participants now join in from across the country.

Touchstone Energy honored Brockman for his creation and coordination of the charity run by naming him one of six national winners of the 2006 Touchstone Energy Brand Champion Awards. Touchstone gives the award annually to recognize individuals for their extraordinary leadership, effectiveness, innovation and consistency in building the Touchstone Energy brand. Farmer’s Rural Electric is one of more than 600 Touchstone co-ops in 45 states that deliver energy to nearly 22 million customers a day.

Brockman’s impetus to join ASTM’s Subcommittee F18.65 on Wearing Apparel was an interest in flame resistant clothing that was both professional and personal.

“Around the time I joined ASTM, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration had recently passed regulations stating that clothing worn by workers could not further contribute to injuries a worker who is exposed to an electrical arc might receive. I wanted to be involved in developing and revising standards for this type of clothing.” ASTM standard F 1506, Performance Specification for Flame Resistant Textile Materials for Wearing Apparel for Use by Electrical Workers Exposed to Momentary Electric Arc and Related Thermal Hazards, is an example of the standards that the subcommittee has subsequently developed.

At the same time, Brockman’s oldest son, Brad, had begun driving junior dragsters. After Brockman noticed that an ASTM standard was referenced on the tag of Brad’s driving suit, he decided he wanted to work on that standard as well.

Although Brockman joined ASTM International in 1998, his original exposure to ASTM standards was 20 years earlier, in graduate school. While attending Western Kentucky University, Brockman was taught by Frank Burns, a professor and ASTM member who actively used ASTM standards in the classroom. “He would have us look up standards and part of our grade would depend on us being able to discuss that standard and what it meant,” says Brockman.

Brockman is pleased with the work Subcommittee F18.65 does. “For a long time, we’d been guessing at some things, but there is a much better understanding now of concepts such as how an arc blast is much different than being exposed to a flame,” says Brockman. “We still have a way to go and we always will, but now we have some standards out there that can be used.”

As a self-proclaimed “safety guy,” Brockman clearly knows the importance of Subcommittee F18.65’s work. “You need to dress appropriately if you think you’re going to be in an arc,” says Brockman. “You need to be able to look at systems and determine what kind of energy you’re going to be generating and what the result of that could be.”

“I feel privileged to be part of ASTM and to be helping develop these standards,” says Brockman. “Working in the field, I know how important it is to be able to say that a piece of clothing or equipment meets an ASTM standard.”

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