Our company's mission is to help industrial workers return home safely from the job every day. So it's even more imperative that we practice what we preach and ensure that our own safety practices meet or exceed industry best practices.
Our own Quality Engineer and Safety Manager George Biggs shares some of his teamâs best practices that are keeping workers safe and have contributed to their year-to-date record of zero lost time accidents. His plant manufactures SafeRack, ErectaStep, RollaStep and YellowGate brand fall protection and access systems for industrial work areas.
A true story... âIn a previous company, our rule was to always have two people when working on machinery and never let a person work on a machine alone. There was a large mill on the end of my line. It had stopped, and we couldnât get it started. I called maintenance and they sent an experienced person who told me I didnât need to stay, but it was our policy to have two people present, so I stayed anyway. The technician got down in the machine and when he made the limit switch, the mill started. He had nowhere to go. I hit the emergency switch and killed the power, but the mill continued turning with just the power from the weight of the mill. The technicianâs coveralls became entangled in the blade. Fortunately, he wasnât hurt, but it was a very close call.
We see a lot of loading and unloading terminals, but one thing that impresses us is when leadership engenders a workplace safety culture. True, every company has output requirements to maintain, as well as, EHS and OSHA compliance requirements. However, in our experience, those leaders who place an emphasis on workplace safety are also top performers in OEE and other performance metrics.
Many managers are taking workplace safety a step further and incorporating ergonomics into their safety programs. It's a growing concern among EHS professionals because of an aging workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one in three workers is over the age of 50, and the concern is that the older the worker, the greater the risk of injury.
Regardless of age, ergonomics considerations can significantly reduce the risk of strain and sprain injuries. These injuries are often caused by overexertion. Weâve seen cases where itâs not the aging worker, but aging equipment that causes workers to require more physical energy to operate.
The NALCO Freeport, Tex. facility produces raw materials for its other plants. Some of the materials required to produce these raw materials arrive in isotainers, which led to a project with two objectives:
The first objective was fairly straight forward. However, the second objective is where the SafeRack team worked with NALCO Plant Engineer Bill Brown and his team to design an easy, more productive approach than the harness.
"Safety is definitely number one at NALCO," said Brown. "All of our operations, all of our projects take safety into consideration and it's our number one priority. If it's not safe, we don't do it."