Trends in ... plant safety
‘Each and every employee deserves to return home safely every day’
Industry insiders are praising technological improvements in plant safety. “The use of digital technology is still a remarkably positive technology change for plant safety,” said Karen Hamel, regulatory compliance specialist and technical writer for Tipton, PA-based New Pig Corp. “It is also fascinating to see how facilities are using robotic technology to replace high-hazard jobs that had previously put workers at a high risk for injury or death.”
Hamel added that the ability for robots to do finely detailed work with the capabilities to control their movements remotely will “continue to improve safety and minimize risks to workers.”
Another area in which technology is leading to safer workplaces is lockout/tagout. “Some recent products on the market that make safety and compliance easier and more effective for employees include circuit breaker-securing devices that allow multiple workers to physically secure individual circuit breaker switches by applying non-releasable nylon cable ties and their individual worker ID badges,” said Tom Campbell, global product manager, lockout/tagout solutions, for Milwaukee-based Brady Corp.
Despite advances in technology, worker misuse is always an issue. For example: “Some digital inspection checklists can still be ‘pencil-whipped’ like their paper ancestors,” Hamel notes. “Replacing simple check boxes with fields that need to be filled out with actual data such as numbers (temperature, pressure rating, etc.) can help to eliminate this.”
In addition, operating digital devices on the job can lead to distraction, according to Hamel, especially if the devices are used while an employee is walking. To help prevent this problem, she recommends establishing and enforcing policies that prohibit the use of digital devices while walking.
Words of wisdom
Understanding the “why” of safety is critical, Hamel states. “One thing that I commonly find when I visit safe companies is that every single employee understands their company’s safety rules – from the floor level to the CEO,” she said. “They can explain each procedure. They know why they’re wearing each piece of PPE. They have made safety personal – not only for themselves, but for everyone.”
Campbell agrees. “When it comes to safety in the workplace, each and every employee deserves to return home safely every day,” he said.
Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association
Coming next month:
Safety signs and labels