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The Human Element in Safety

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The Human Element in Safety

September 19, 2013 - 06:33

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, Sept. 19, 2013 (PPI Magazine) -The year 2013 marked an important milestone in the Pulp and Paper Safety Association's (PPSA) history. It celebrated its 70th annual conference in June and fully entered into a partnership with TAPPI so that TAPPI will now run the association.

The Human Element of Safety was the theme of this year's meeting and the presentations ranged from theory to case histories to using robots safely to updates of health and safety regulations (American).

Robert Schroeder (left) Green Bay Packaging, accepts the Executive Eagle Award, the PPSA’s highest honor from Mike Hagenbarth, RockTenn (Photos by Glenn Ostle, TAPPI)

The senior executive address came from Dick Krouskop, vice president, safety, health and environment for MeadWestvaco (MWV). He noted that there has been a significant transition in the company in the last 10 years, since the merger.

After the merger, the company was accepting of its safety record. Although it cared about safety, it was not really doing anything to improve. Most of the focus was on compliance. In 2007, MWV had an OSHA recordable rate (total care incidence rate: TCIR) of 2.53, up from 2.23 in 2003. This, Krouskop said, represented a rallying point to improve.

The mission was to create a zero-injury culture (ZIC). As Krouskop said, as did many other speakers during their presentations, a ZIC advances productivity and quality. "Good safety enhances the business."

The program has worked. Looking at MWV's record over the past few years, not one recordable was the result of an employee doing something wrong.

Thus far in 2013, the company's TCIR is 1.7 and has dropped every year since 2008. "We want to go further," Krouskop added, but noted they must take into account the vast geographical dispersion of the company.

Shane Bush, BushCo, spoke about coping with human error through human performance improvement. An error is not an outcome. An error is an unintentional deviation from a preferred behavior. Injuries, production interruptions and damage are the consequences of errors that a company needs to eliminate. Reducing errors should not be the primary focus, Bush explained, rather the reduction of the consequences of these errors. He added that 80% of unwanted outcomes are from human error but 70% of that is due to "latent organizational weaknesses" and only 30% due to the individual. The greatest cause of errors is weakness in the organization, not a lack of skill or knowledge.

The first case history came from Greg Ellisor, Weyerhaeuser. He detailed a tragic accident that resulted in a fatality at the company's Port Wentworth, GA, mill. An employee left a walkway to notify a log truck driver that one log had not been unloaded and was hanging off the side of the truck. He was struck by a telehandler vehicle carrying a fully loaded waste bin and killed. The boom of the telehandler obscured the driver's right hand side where the victim was walking.

The incident prompted a company-wide evaluation of mobile equipment practices. Weyerhaeuser also evaluated its walkways, using hard barricades if necessary. High risk areas have been emphasized. The company surveyed all its mobile equipment to detect blind spots and instituted new operating procedures. Safety measures include lights, alarms and spotters for equipment with severe visibility restrictions.

Elllisor added that Transmon Engineering has a pedestrian alert system. It is an RFID tag that can be attached to a PPE vest. A sensor on the mobile equipment can detect the RFID tag on a vest when the pedestrian approaches to within about 10 m of the mobile equipment.

Terry Hughes and Jeffery Tong, Domtar, gave an excellent presentation on hazard mapping or pre-task risk assessment at the Ashdown. AK, mill. In 43 hazard mapping sessions, this employee led initiative has helped eliminate 537 hazards. In 2012, the facility had its best safety year, something both speakers attributed to hazard mapping.

Mike Miller, Buckeye, Perry, FL, provided another case history; fortunately, this one had less tragic consequences. In June 2012, a dryer drum exploded in the mill's PM 2. The explosion shot the dryer drum through the side of the dryer and it hit PM 1, some 35 ft away.

Because it happened late Sunday afternoon on Father's Day, few people were around and no one was hurt. An I-bar situated over the drum deflected it preventing more damage. It was discovered a counter weight had fallen off inside the drum and fallen to the dryer bottom. It had the effect of milling the inside surface as the drum rotated until it was too thin, leading to the failure. It was felt a stationary siphon had kept the broken weight in place.

The mill was able to restart PM 1 in five days while PM 2 came back up in November 2012.

This is just a small sampling of the presentations given at the conference. Another highlight is the awards dinner where honors for best performances such as No OSHA Recordables; Most Improved; Award of Excellence and No Days Away from Work are presented.

The highest honor is the Executive Eagle Award. For 2012, it was earned by Robert Schroeder, vice president and general manager, Green Bay Packaging, Fort Worth, TX. When he accepted the general manager's position in 2008, the division had a high and increasing injury incident rate.

He realized that one of his first tasks was to change the existing culture and to create a partnering spirit with all employees to improve the division's safety program. He challenged the management team to improve the methods, eliminate hazards and develop a safety minded workforce. His safety initiative has resulted in dramatic reductions in both lost time and recordable injuries.

Another special award, the 2012 PPSA Distinguished Service Award was presented to John Sunderland, safety compliance manager, Buckeye Technologies, for his work not only with Buckeye, but also for his many years of effort in promoting the PPSA.

For many years,PPIhas been proud to sponsor the Best One Year Record award. In 2012, the recipients included Evergreen Packaging, Canton, NC (Paper Mill #1); Graphic Packaging West Monroe, LA (Paper Mill #2); International Paper Maysville, KY (Paper Mill #3); Weyerhaeuser Columbus, MS (Pulp Mill) and RockTenn St. Louis, MO (Recycle Collection). PPI