Product Focus: Plant safety

Trends in ... plant safety

The pros and cons of technology

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Technology is playing a strong role in the advancement of plant safety, according to people in the safety industry. “The incorporation of app-based safety tracking programs appears poised to have a major impact on how we track safety and compliance in plant and facility environments,” said Brad Montgomery, marketing and communications director for Brooksville, FL-based Accuform Signs.

Todd Grover, global senior manager, applied safety solutions for Milwaukee-based Master Lock Co. LLC, pointed to a strong demand for “smart technology that benchmarks what has been established for area-specific practices, conditions and equipment.” Grover praised the benefits of using tracking software on smart devices, noting that managers can “have access to real-time data about workplace hazard findings, equipment and performance issues” and can “analyze trends, and quickly assign corrective actions and document upon completion.”

However, technology can have its drawbacks. Scott Stone, Brady Safety Software and Services Solution owner for Milwaukee-based Brady Worldwide Inc., said lack of training when using mobile phones and tablets for plant safety management can be a problem. “By not putting in the needed due diligence up front and thinking through the implementation process, it’s simply not going to work the way that’s expected,” he added. To rectify this, Stone recommends selecting a program that best fits with your company’s specific needs. “Determine what employees will use it, what type of inspections they will be completing, user types, back-end measurement systems and other key elements of functionality and workflow,” he said.

Montgomery cautioned against over-relying on technology. “We need to constantly evaluate how we’re using technology to make sure we’re getting the most out of it, without sacrificing employee safety in the process,” he said.

On a more specific note regarding plant safety, Tony Marcucci, national sales manager for Gurnee, IL-based CEJN Industrial Corp., spoke of a new technology designed for “compressed air hose lines for high performance ‘safety-venting’ quick couplers in helping workers stay safer from accidental ‘hose-whip.’” Marcucci noted that hose-whip is a phenomenon that can occur in a compressed air circuit involving hoses at “point-of-use” items, including quick disconnects, blow-off guns and air tools. He said safety-venting quick couplers meet a requirement to safety release back-pressure air that could cause the connecting line to eject with excessive force and noise, which could potentially result in injuries. Marcucci recommends using these types of disconnects to help lower incidences of worker injury.

Watch out for each other

Keeping safety at the forefront is critical, said Stone, who touted the importance of being your “brother’s and sister’s keeper” at work. “That means that when a worker sees something that is unsafe, this person takes the initiative to stop the work that they or another employee is doing to reduce at-risk behaviors and fully embrace a culture of safety,” he said.

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Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association