Monday, October 11, 2010

Journey to Safety Excellence

Journey to Safety Excellence

From IMPO a good article discussing the reasons for developing the “journey to safety excellence” strategy by James Johnson, National Safety Council.

Q&A With James Johnson, National Safety Council - Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operations

Interview by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO

James Johnson is responsible for leading National Safety Council advocacy initiatives to reduce deaths and injuries associated with workplace safety. Mr. Johnson works with a diverse group of stakeholders to establish and promote best practices for safety and health processes affecting employees on-the-job.

With more than 30 years experience as a safety and health consultant, project manager, and team manager, Mr. Johnson has led development and delivery of progressive safety solutions for companies of all sizes and industries. He has managed multiple risk control disciplines, helping them to align strategy to actionable and measurable initiatives for continuous, sustainable improvement, and world-class performance.

IMPO: What are the key elements to this approach?
JJ: There are four key elements to the journey to safety excellence. Each is important unto itself and in relation to each of the other elements. The elements are interdependent, and when fully integrated as a workplace safety strategy—and working in concert with other improvement processes such as quality and efficiency—have significant impact on protecting workers and enhancing company performance and profitability. The four key elements are:
  • Management leadership and employee engagement. This is about enhancing a safety culture that creates the opportunity for safety excellence through shared ownership and responsibility.
  • Safety management systems. This is a framework of processes and procedures used to ensure that an organization can fulfill all safety tasks required to achieve its objectives.
  • Risk reduction strategies. Risk is the combination of the likelihood of an event (occurrence) and the severity of the injury that may result. Risk is always present in the workplace and companies who strive to reduce risk will outperform companies that do not.
  • Performance measurement. Managing a process of improvement requires data on activities and outcomes in the form of performance measures. This enables companies to establish baselines, measure improvement over baseline, and understand the relationship (correlation) between safety activities and the outcomes of injury and disability.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pardon Your ComDust

By Rich Christianson at

Pardon Your ComDust

An OSHA-mandated combustible dust standard in likely a year or two away, but that doesn’t mean the federal safety agency isn’t already applying increased pressure on manufacturers to clean up their plants.

As I witnessed firsthand yesterday at OSHA’s third in a series of Combustible Dust Stakeholder Meetings (read report), OSHA is intent on making a ComDust standard real. It’s a rule-making process that might not be happening if not for the Feb. 7, 2008 fatal explosion of Imperial Sugar’s plant in Port Wentworth, GA, that killed 14 and injured dozens of other workers. But happening it is.

Ever since the Imperial Sugar tragedy, Congress has taken enhanced interest in safeguarding workers from ComDust hazards and OSHA inspectors have paid greater attention to dust accumulations in the workplace. The most recent example is OSHA’s announcement that it was fining H&H Woodworking of Yonkers, NY, $130,800 for “severe” and “willful” safety violations. OSHA’s investigation of H&H Woodworking was prompted by the report of an employee who lost part of his hand operating a radial arm saw. The inspectors not only determined that the company failed to provide the required saw guards but that it was deficient in many others areas of safety, including combustible dust prevention.

Last week, we reported on a suspected combustible dust explosion at Wood-Mode Inc. of Kreamer, PA. Fortunately no one was hurt when a 75-foot silo, containing dust burned as fuel, exploded.

Combustible dust was also suspected as a factor in the fatal explosion of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia last month. In addition, OSHA has cited ComDust violations at Formosa Plastic, Timber-Tech, Geneva Wood Fuels and Birdsong Corp., among others, this year.

Considering the vast number of dust-generating operations that exist in this country, the number of recorded ComDust incidents is small. But be that as it may, make no mistake that ComDust is fully focused on OSHA’s radar screen and a federal rule that will mandate engineering controls, training and records-keeping, is coming down the pike.

As I have said on more than one occasion in my Wood & Wood Products’ editorials over the years, keeping your plant as clean of dust as possible is not only helpful to the well-being and morale of your workers, but to the quality of your products and the image of your company.

No matter how big or small your operation might be, this issue is too real to be ignored.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Becoming Numb to Risks

Excellent post by Dr. Saraf.

Familiarity with a process can often lead to complacency!

Becoming Numb to Risks
July 27th, 2009 | by Dr. Saraf |

In our daily lives we often become immune to risks around us. For example, there are around 40,000 annual fatalities from automobile accidents in the US and yet we do not think twice before getting into their cars. We eat a burger ignoring the risks of heart problems!

Why do we tend to ignore risks that we are frequently exposed to?

To answer this question, I’m going to quote my graduate advisor - Dr. Sam Mannan.

The first time your “low fuel” gauge lights up, you might get worried about running out of gas. However, if you make it to the gas station easily, you may not get as concerned the next time and wait some more time before you stop at a gas station. This relaxation of concern and the time you might wait to stop at a gas station after the gauge comes on might increase as you get more comfortable with the “alarm,” “warning,” or “indicator.” However, if one day you were to run out of gas, it would be hard to argue that you did not have indicators of trouble.

Many researchers have called this phenomenon as the “normalization of deviation”, i.e., getting so used to a warning signal that it’s no longer much of a warning. In fact, the phenomenon is such that with time, the increase in deviation accepted by the individual or organization increases in magnitude.

So true! Is this the reason things are Still Going Wrong?