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Applied Science and Engineering
Cost Analysis and Budgeting
Benchmarking and Performance Criteria
Hazards are ever-present in the steel plant environment, and a heightened awareness and emphasis on safety is a necessary priority for our industry. This article focuses on procedures and practices to promote a safe working environment for everyone.
One great debate in workplace safety today is the role of incentives. Two philosophies seem to exist. One says that workers will not work safely unless we give them incentives to do so. The other says that incentives should not be required for workers to do their jobs without injury. Interestingly, safety and operational supervisors, managers and directors who are working hard to find a way to get employees focused on reducing injuries are fueling the debate.
The possibility of zero injury as an outcome in construction work was introduced in 1987 when the Business Roundtable (BRT) Construction Committee asked U.S. construction owners and contractors to submit applications for a newly established BRT Safety Excellence Award. After sending out 400 applications, BRT received only seven responses for their request. Among those responses were two applications containing astonishing safety performance records.
Contact with energized power lines may result in one or more fatal electrocutions, serious burns and/or damaged equipment. The most common cause of crane-related fatalities is contact with overhead power lines. Electrocutions account for 32% of crane-related fatalities.
Five to 10 times per day in the U.S., a worker is severely injured or killed in an electrical arc flash incident. Other electrical incidents can also injure workers; these typically involve accidental contacts with energized parts that result in shock and electrocution. The injuries and fatalities that result from these incidents are always devastating to workers and their families. Additionally, the financial consequences of such events can be damaging to the company.
The incident in West, TX, once again brought to light the hazards of ammonium nitrate (AN), as well as a failure to recognize its risks. Although the incident occurred on the agricultural side of AN, in this discussion, there is no practical difference between this product and the type of AN used in mining and construction.
Nothing halts a construction project faster than the discovery of a gas pipe, electrical line, sewer tile or water pipe that nobody knew was there. If you are lucky, you will recognize the line before any damage is done, or you will quickly determine that it is a short segment of a long-abandoned leg. If you are not so lucky, you may get to see yourself on the evening news.
Steel erection presents many risks to both employers and employees. It requires comprehending and identifying new terminology and language. Erecting procedures require a qualified competent person to be on the scene to confirm that each step is completed thoroughly before a new task begins. OSHA subpart R provides excellent guidance for implementing steel erection procedures and processes. It is a vertical standard that applies to construction and a concept to be understood before any work begins.
Human error and the forces of gravity can pose great risk to those who work at height. To mitigate these risks, workers and supervisors must take the appropriate precautionary measures to prevent ladder- and scaffold-related incidents.
The bigger and more complicated a safety management issue seems, the harder it is to simultaneously discipline away problems and improve safety performance.
I spend much of my time talking to organizational leaders who discuss in great detail the need for discipline and accountability. These leaders often begin this conversation by saying something like this: “This safety stuff is fine and good, but at what point does personal accountability kick in?”
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