This week in Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Labor Relations and Workplace Safety reported that a company, which failed to provide an effective safeguard, was fined $45,500 after a worker sustained a serious injury when his arm was caught in a sprocket while cleaning a piece of machinery in 2015.
When we read these kinds of stories, our thoughts immediately move to the workers in our facility, and we proceed with the review of the steps ADL Process is taking to protect them from workplace injury. Equipment maintenance is crucial to employee safety, below is a rundown of the steps that go into protecting employees while working on machinery.
To ensure our employees’ safety we have comprehensive training programs in place that include equipment use and maintenance. For instance, our front line disassembly experts’ main focus is to complete their task as safely as possible, and be able to recognize the risks of injury. To that purpose, employees are instructed that if a piece of equipment breaks down, they are to stop working immediately and notify their supervisor, who will ensure the machine is locked out and tagged as broken in advance of the maintenance department’s arrival. The staff knows that under no circumstances are they to try to repair the machine themselves. The Lock-Out/Tag-Out training program allows us to ensure that no employee attempts to run a machine that has been tagged for repair. Learn more about the other training programs and health & safety measures in place at ADL Process to protect our employees.
Checks of Equipment
Each piece of equipment our workers interact with on a daily basis is checked for operational safety. These inspections are documented and filed to allow the information, on the condition of machines, to flow from our front line workers to our supervisors and maintenance department. If a machine is identified as requiring evaluation, it can be flagged on the documentation in addition to being verbally reported. This provides a second layer of accountability in ensuring that all matters of equipment repair are addressed as soon as possible. A certified member of our Joint Environmental Health and Safety Committee (JEHSC) also does a monthly inspection of all equipment, ensuring that all guards are in place and emergency stops are fully functional. This assessment is documented, filed and discussed at the next JEHSC meeting. All issues and non-conformities are addressed with a corrective action report (CAR) and recommendations, the CAR is followed up on by the JEHSC, and the corrective steps taken are documented in the file.
Housekeeping and regular maintenance
Many equipment issues can be corrected with appropriate housekeeping and maintenance methods. One of the most commonly used pieces of equipment in our facility is a baler. Plastic, steel, cords, cardboard, shrink wrap and monitor boards are all fed into balers and compressed for ease of shipping. Our baling staff is trained to be vigilant on cleaning the equipment, to ensure no pieces remain behind after a bale is ejected. Their focus is to eliminate stuck bales, and safely eject any that occur. Our expert staffs get to know the machines they work on, and are vigilant in checking for malfunctions and keeping the equipment in good working order.
Our Lock-Out/Tag-Out program requires the maintenance department to not only de-energize the equipment, but also to double check that there is no power being drawn by the machine. Once it is fully powered down, the maintenance worker assesses what needs to be done, checks all guarding, and puts on the appropriate personal protective equipment to perform the job. Only after ensuring that all needed safety equipment has been moved into place (fire extinguishers, fume extractors, spill cleanup kit), the maintenance worker begins the repair.
While we understand that there is no way to anticipate all possible outcomes, we work hard to put every safety measure possible in place to protect the health and safety of our staff. We take pride in our relatively low incident rate, and in the knowledge that we work for a company that puts the safety of its workers ahead of its bottom line.