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A co-worker is skipping process steps and maybe making dangerous parts

December 7, 2011

I work for a metal finishing company for the aerospace industry. My job is plating metal parts with cadmium. Many of these parts are for the Canadian and US military. I have only been in this field for the past 6 months. I was previously a chrome plater for ten years.

My problem is with my colleague that trained me. Now that I know the job and everything, I have noticed all the steps he skips. He doesn't treat the parts with MEK before sandblasting, he doesn't soak the parts for at least 10 minutes in the ocite solution, or dip the parts in hydrochloric acid, or dip the parts in a caustic solution. He doesn't rinse the parts properly after plating, such as he doesn't always dip them in chromic acid to neutralize any residual cyanide. He strips parts plated with cadmium with acid or sandblasting, rather than with ammonium hydroxide. He uses bright cad even when the job requires dull cad, because "the parts look so much nicer". He pays no regard to the thickness of the cadmium plating, only concerned with ensuring it has cad all over. He occasionally skips the hydrogen embrittlement process to speed things up, since many parts require as much as 24 hours of baking.

Should I rat him out?

[name deleted by editor]
- [location deleted by editor]

December 7, 2011


In my opinion, if possible, you should talk to QA department, or department head, or someone in authority and advise that you are concerned that the company may not be faithfuly complying with specifications. I think you should suggest a process audit rather than complain about an individual. After all, the airplane doesn't care about your co-worker's personality, but it does care about the process its parts were subjected to.

Keep good notes now, don't reconstruct them later, to protect yourself as a legitimate "whistleblower" in case things blow up on you.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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