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Product Focus | Product Focus: Plant safety

Trends in ... plant safety

‘A participatory process’

November 25, 2013

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From lockout/tagout to emergency evacuations, ‘plant safety’ covers a broad range of hazards. When asked what is new regarding plant safety technology, Tom Smith, product marketing specialist for Milwaukee-based Brady Worldwide Inc., said “the growth of tools and applications available for use on tablets and mobile devices is one of the latest and more efficient technologies available to keep plants safe.”

Waylen Pape, central region sales manager of Milwaukee-based Master Lock Company Security & Safety Solutions, spoke about the benefits of cloud-based technologies. “Recently, some of these software systems added lockout/tagout procedure authoring, performance and inspection capabilities,” Pape said. This is important, he said, because when this type of technology is adopted at a plant, the effectiveness of a program can be measured and adjusted more quickly.

Problems

When asked how workers misuse or mishandle plant safety personal protective equipment, Chris Kingsley, safety director at Brooksville, FL-based Accuform Signs, spoke of hand protection. “The most common misuse is just forgetting to put on their cut gloves at any time they are using a cutting device,” Kingsley said. “It is so easy to say, ‘I am just making a small cut,’ and have that small procedure turn into an unfortunate incident.”

In Smith’s experience, a problem is workers using wrong or defective equipment and clothing. “Some employees forego the heavy and stiff, arc-rated gear because of discomfort,” Smith said. “While PPE and proper clothing can be hot, uncomfortable and typically requires additional preparation, it saves lives and prevents injury if an electrical hazard were to occur.”

Another plant safety issue is lockout/tagout. Mark Evans, east region sales manager for Master Lock Company Security & Safety Solutions, said causes for concern include “taking shortcuts, the failure to lock out prior to servicing, and the failure to verify that all workers are safe before re-energizing equipment.”

‘Everyone has to be involved’

Any time a new employee is hired or when someone’s responsibilities change, the person should be trained or re-trained on the proper policies and procedures, Pape advised. Kingsley sums it up by saying that plant safety should not be a solitary endeavor. “Workers should always remember that plant safety is a participatory process and that everyone has to be involved in the process from top to bottom in order for it to work and provide the safety we all want, need and strive for every day.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

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