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Trends in ... plant safety

November 1, 2012

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Awareness and communication

By Tracy Haas, editorial assistant

From floor mats that provide grip and slip control to giant ceiling fans that help keep workers cool, “plant safety” addresses a wide array of potential hazards. A recent technology is helping plant managers keep track of these various elements.

Davis

“One of the bigger technologies that have begun to be implemented much more frequently within safety

facilities is visual information management systems,” said Marlon Davis, software business lead at Milwaukee-based Brady Worldwide Inc. “Visual information management systems, or VIMS, refer to the management of safety information on and around machines and equipment for use by operators and engineers,” he explained. “This type of system allows employers to maintain the accuracy of the information on their shop floors.” Davis also noted that this kind of system makes it easier to create OSHA-compliant visuals that are easy for workers to read and understand.


One potential problem with VIMS is the issue of employers and employees becoming too reliant on them. “Visual and cloud-based management software programs are great tools to use, but it takes the human element to make sure the content is accurate,” Davis said. “These tools can make that job easier by storing that content for future use, but the knowledge and skill of a trained and experienced safety engineer is still required.”

However, some aspects of safety can never be replaced by technology or equipment. “Awareness and communication,” noted Christian Taber, senior applications engineer for Lexington, KY-based Big Ass Fans Co. “If you are aware of an issue and that is not communicated to the right people, then there is a greater opportunity for a safety-related incident.”

Davis offered similar advice. “Providing a work environment with visually instructive information is essential because it improves and focuses how employees read and comprehend, and reduces barriers among language and grammar,” he said. “The more visual you can make your facility, the better.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

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