From The Safety Guide 2018: Working Towards a Safer Aluminium Industry
When it comes to safety on the job, it takes company-wide dedication, patience, and execution to ensure that each worker returns home safely.
When employees are injured on the job, productivity and morale suffers as investigations are conducted and schedules are reworked. Fortunately, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in recent years – linking everyday components or systems via network connectivity – has enabled the instant transfer of information across people, projects, and geographies.
Ultimately, a safer workplace is a more successful one, and when crews, managers and executives have the same real-time data to better respond to incidents and proactively mitigate risks, everyone wins.
FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY
While every organisation wants to send their employees home in the same condition as when they arrived, completing tasks on time and on budget can sometimes take precedence over safety. A 2017 National Safety Council survey of 2,000 workers found that more than one-third believe that “safety takes a backseat” to productivity. Firms with a narrow view of safety – seeing it as a quick operational or financial end– fail to recognise how a sustainable health and safety culture helps them stay competitive in the longterm. Particularly amidst the skilled labor shortage, organizations are having to change the way they attract and retain employees, and investing in cutting-edge safety technologies and initiatives sends a message to your workforce that they are valued.
By that measure, leading organisations prioritise engagement and collaboration, aiming to be a safety partner – not the safety police. With integrated processes for identifying, documenting, assessing and managing injuries and hazards on the job, organisations can take a comprehensive, controlled approach to safety.
EMBRACE CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY
Safety results from what managers say, what workers see on the job, and what tools each individual is equipped with to actively participate in safety. Across industries, technology has ushered in a new era of efficiency and risk management as emerging devices and applications help project leaders stay on top of their teams and ahead of potential dangers.
Wearable devices are transforming the way the aluminium processing and production industry protects its most valuable resource – the workforce. The Spot-r Clip, for example, worn by every worker on a site, sends automatic alerts to designated supervisors the moment a safety incident occurs, improving response and reducing the risk of compounding injuries.
In addition, in an environment with combustible dust, liquids and gas, and electrical hazards, to name a few, this same device provides workers with a direct line of communication to supervisors, allowing them to signal unsafe conditions or distress via the push-button feature. Scalable, networked sensor solutions can adapt to a worksites’ specific layout and needs. Spot-r’s non-GPS solution provides real-time visibility into workforce and equipment location, interaction, and safety incidents without restrictions such as wireless connection, indoor/outdoor location, or machine size. The Spot-r EquipTag mounts to nearly any piece of equipment such as bandsaws, hydraulic presses, or belt grinders, to tell you when it’s being operated and by whom. Layering in workforce certifi cation data, supervisors can get unknown or unauthorised operator alerts, safeguarding against the current “one-keyfi ts-all” approach of machines.
In addition, utilisation data allows managers to better manage unnecessary wear and tear that come from overworking machines or cutting corners to meet demand.
PRIORITISE EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are roughly 37,000 fi res at industrial and manufacturing properties each year, which in 2016, resulted in almost 20 deaths and 280 injuries and $1 billion in property damage. On a daily basis, the industry contends with aluminium dust and other combustible materials, heavy machinery, and hot working conditions. On top of providing and ensuring thorough training and operator certification, plant workers and supervisors need to continuously check for hazards, establish a housekeeping routine, and regularly inspect and maintain systems and equipment. As the saying goes, organisations that fail to plan for an emergency, plan to fail. Robust safety systems are being built into wearable technology, like Spot-r, that allow supervisors to trigger an evacuation alarm to each device, simultaneously notifying each worker to get out regardless of where they’re located or other competing noises.
In an inherently hazardous industry, complacency is always a threat, and employees can become less careful and proactive when they perceive risk as “part of the job.” By providing workers with intuitive tools to participate in safety without leaving their work area, companies send the message that any amount of danger is unacceptable.
DATA-DRIVEN CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
When it comes to worker safety, one incident is too many, and recent strides by the aluminium industry to reduce recordable incidents should only drive the industry further towards zero incidents. Fortunately, the growth of useful, previously unavailable data from a variety of sources, via the IoT, allows supervisors to identify and correct risks, such as a frayed wire, accumulating dust, or a puddle. Furthermore, by easily aggregating and analysing data across a facility, company, or sector, the industry can develop targeted, data-driven safety procedures that make all industry stakeholders, such as processors and equipment suppliers, safer and smarter.
Accepting current practices as “good enough” is unacceptable when worker safety is involved. By taking a data-driven approach to safety training, performance, and monitoring, the aluminium industry will achieve a healthier, more resilient workforce and bottom line.
Check out the full Safety Guide 2018: Working Towards a Safer Aluminium Industry here.