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March 14, 2013

1 Million Hours Without a Lost-Time Accident - In a Foundry?!

Foundries and machine shops are notorious for being dangerous places, but one Indiana foundry is challenging that perception. On March 1, Bremen Castings recorded one million man hours without a lost time accident, and the company credits employee accountability for the milestone.

"We've implemented strategies and procedures to make sure that each and every employee is accountable for each others'  safety while at work," says Bremen President JB Brown. "We require all employees to file 'near miss' reports if they notice something is amiss. For example, if a cable is in the way or there is a slippery step, the employee is responsible for moving it and filing a report to inform upper management of the issue."

Bremen's executive team then analyzes the reports to determine how to implement changes that could prevent potential problems in the future. The combined employee/management approach clearly is working. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were three fatalities and 4,300 nonfatal injuries in U.S. iron foundries in 2011, with an incidence rate of 10.1 per 100 full-time workers. Iron foundries ranked 9th on the BLS list of industries with the highest rates of nonfatal injuries, and 22nd for nonfatal injuries requiring days away from work.

OSHA says a company with a strong safety culture establishes an atmosphere where safety is a primary responsibility of all workers, from the newest apprentice to the owner or CEO. The OSHA Safety and Health Management eTool states, "Management leadership and employee involvement are complementary. Management leadership provides the motivating force and the resources for organizing and controlling activities within the organization. In an effective program, management regards worker safety and health as a fundamental value. Employer involvement provides the means through which workers express their own commitment to safety and health, for themselves and their fellow workers."

Employee involvement and concern for fellow workers are key to successful safety programs, and Bremen's near-miss reports and employee accountability efforts have proven effective.

Maybe you can use or adapt these ideas for your own safety program, and let us know when you reach the million-hour milestone.

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