Every year, far too many workers in BC are injured due to unexpected equipment energization, start-up, or release of energy.
Incidents where workers are caught-in or struck-by machinery often result in severed fingers, crushed limbs or death. These incidents could be avoided by ensuring that lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures are developed and followed.
1. Your LOTO program, including procedures, must be specific to the work site and each piece of equipment. Including photos of panels, equipment and specific points help ensure workers complete the procedure correctly and efficiently. These procedures involve removing all sources of energy from the equipment to prevent it from accidental startup.
2. Generic training on LOTO devices and the different types of energy sources complement training on specific procedures. This ensures that workers understand each step of the
process and the risks involved to them and their coworkers.
3. A verification test on equipment is mandatory before work can be performed and could be lifesaving. All procedures should be audited regularly. When it comes to LOTO, a mislabeled
electrical panel or shut-off point is a common near-miss in industry.
by Lisa McGuire – Emerging risks, be they cultural or technical, present both a challenge and an opportunity for the Alliance and its members. For our individual members the risks may be worksite specific, while for the Alliance they are more broadly focused, as we look to develop tools and resources to meet the health and safety needs of a diverse manufacturing industry.
Early recognition of risk is vital; it allows an organization the opportunity to take the lead on integrating effective controls into business processes rather than reacting to external pressures enacted by regulation or policy.
Risk can take many forms. Technology is rapidly changing the way products are made. This creates new challenges as controls are defined to mitigate the risks that emerge. To help prepare our members for the future, the Alliance continually scans the globe looking for best practices. Our objective is first to understand what various agencies are doing and then examine their work through the lens of BC’s regulatory and business needs.
We are establishing relationships with Germany, a country placing a high priority on understanding the risks of cyber security in computerized machines and England, where companies, not regulators, are driving safety standards to a higher level. Nationally we are working with the Radiation Institute of Canada to understand the risks of introducing radiation-based processes into a workplace and develop tools, training and programs to mitigate them. Provincially we are on the forefront of understanding current, high impact risks. We are focusing on developing effective programs to help address them, while at the same time working to identify and help control emerging risks.
Together with you, our members, we will continue on the leading edge of identifying and controlling current and emerging risks for the manufacturing sector in BC and together we will lead cultural change that will have not just a national but an international impact.
Raising awareness and lowering movement risks
You may know SureWerx as a leading supplier of professional tool, personal protective equipment, safety apparel and fall arrest products across North America. Maintaining a safe work environment in a warehouse like SureWerx’s Coquitlam location, means making forklift safety a top priority.
FORKLIFTS AND RACKING SYSTEM
Contact between forklifts and the racking system can cause injury to employees or damage to either the forklift or the racking.
In the SureWerx warehouse, a plate is installed at the bottom of each upright supporting the rack. This stops the forklift from creating any further damage to the racking or possibly tipping it over.
The forklifts also have specialized software that tracks any contact between a forklift and the racking. This provides information about potential racking or forklift repairs that might be needed and helps determine if the driver needs more training.
PEDESTRIAN WORKERS AND MOBILE EQUIPMENT
Another potential source for injuries is contact between pedestrians and mobile equipment. SureWerx’s Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) set out how pedestrians are made aware of forklifts whether when moving and lifting pallets onto the racking system or with order pickers moving product.
To mitigate this risk and keep everyone aware of the location of moving equipment, order pickers and forklifts have pedestrian warning lights that project 3 to 4.5 metres (10–15 feet) forward and a horn that sounds frequently. New employees are trained in appropriate routing through the warehouse and what the visual and auditory signals mean.
LOOKING FORWARD AND ADAPTING TO CHANGE
For SureWerx, maintaining a low incident rate requires both a constant review of SOPs and developing new ones when equipment is updated or replaced, when there is a change in process,
or when potential hazards are identified. Workers participate in creating or updating SOPs through SureWerx’s joint health and safety committee. Near misses are also always investigated with modified SOPs and training provided to all employees.
“We have to constantly look forward,” says Shab Dayan, Continuous Improvement Operations Manager at Surewerx.
“Manufacturers are constantly making technological, mechanical or design changes. We need to know the safety implication of each before new equipment is introduced to the workers so we can update the SOPs and ensure staff is properly trained. ”
When it comes to introducing new equipment, Shab has this advice: “Awareness, planning and listening are the keys to mitigating new risks. You need to know what’s coming, make a plan for how you will introduce and implement the change and listen when employees bring forward concerns about safety. It’s better to be proactive and preventive than have to deal with the consequence of an incident.”
A Manufacturing Safety Alliance advisor tours the distribution centre regularly and works with SureWerx Joint Health and Safety Committee to implement policies and procedures. Shab
says, “She has made really useful suggestions for our JHSC and showed us where we could make improvements to processes or protocols.”
Working together to reduce fume exposure
Pacific Energy Fireplace Products has employed workers from the Cowichan Valley over the past 40 years. While the company has never had a serious incident, two years ago they hired Irene Llewellyn-McMartin, Safety Coordinator, to develop a Health and Safety Management Plan and review the processes already in place.
One of the key changes made to improve welder safety was to formalize Safe Work Practices and Procedures. Irene, in conjunction with the Alliance, completed a GAP Analysis to identify where improvements could be made.
Irene says, “We’ve found the Alliance is an excellent resource for professional advice and sharing of knowledge.”
Many of the steps Pacific Energy have taken apply to other welding situations as well. For example, each welding station is equipped with a ventilation fan to exhaust fumes to the outside and all welders are provided with a selection of air-purifying respirators.
The respirators are fit-tested to each welder, who is then educated on the care and limitations of a half-mask respirator. Some welders prefer a respirator with a backpack adaptor, allowing respirator cartridges to be worn on a welder’s back and not inside the mask.
Shannon Huberdeau, Woodline Supervisor, also makes sure that the masks are worn correctly. Shannon says, “The face mask is critical safety equipment and must fit properly. All workers must be clean shaven where the mask seals on the face and any welder reporting to work not shaved is sent home to shave.”
To further keep welders cool, Pacific Energy provides cooling belts. These fit inside a welder’s mask and blow cool, filtered air over the face, keeping the welder cool and their safety glasses from fogging up. The company also provides fire-resistant coveralls and leather welding sleeves, gloves and lap aprons.
Irene adds: “ Pacific Energy is a very progressive company consistently looking for ways to improve our processes. Our first consideration is always, ‘Will this make our workers safer?’”
Incident reduction through better training and orientation
Over the past five years in BC’s manufacturing sector, there have been 2,203 falls from height, resulting in claim costs of over $64 million. This represents 6.7% of all manufacturing claims and 9.3% of all claim costs in manufacturing.
Sung Hyun Jeong, Keith Panel Systems’ Health and Safety Manager, is responsible for preventing fall protection incidents for KPS employees and for implementing industry best practices in KPS’ safety programming.
Says Sung: “We make it a priority to ensure workers are safe and able to go home at the end of the day. Everyone working at heights has to have a fall protection card which shows that they are qualified and knowledgeable about working at heights, ”
Even with a good safety program, KPS recognized that many companies were requiring the Certificate of Recognition or Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence as a baseline, so they asked the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC (Alliance) to lead the company through the certification process.
We wanted to challenge ourselves to do better. We saw working towards the December 2017 audit as an opportunity to confirm many of our policies, clarify others and improve documentation.
Our Alliance advisor was a great help in streamlining the forms for the daily inspections of the lifts and laid out a clear path for continued improvement.
Before achieving certification, an Alliance advisor worked with the team to ensure all elements in the OHS Management System were in place including documentation, training and implementation.
From the first day of work, a new KPS installer’s orientation lays out the hazards of working at heights and the fall protection systems used.
Fall protection is required in BC when a fall of three metres (10 feet) or more may occur or if a fall from a height of less than three metres could result in a serious injury.
All KPS workers working at the site receive fall protection training if they do not have a valid fall protection card. From there, depending on the type of project, workers will work at heights installing architectural panels from lifts including swing stage platforms, boom lifts, and scissor lifts. Each requires separate training for workers to be qualified to work on them.
Following changes in the CSA standards, KPS workers now complete a six-hour swing stage awareness training module including more hands-on training and a lecture.
This is an increase from the four-hour session they had previously completed.
A site specific health and safety orientation is held at the beginning of each new project and each lift has a daily documented safety and maintenance check prior to the start of the shift. “At all times on any of the machines all workers must be properly tied off,” says Sung. It’s all part of the company’s commitment to minimize the chance of any incident.
Maintaining a safe workplace around the clock
When Earth’s Own Food Company Inc workers on Annacis Island go home for the weekend they know they are coming back to a safe workplace.
Earth’s Own produces plant-based beverages, such as almond, oat and soy milks as well as fruit smoothies, which are heat pasteurized then cooled and packaged.
Earth’s Own uses its onsite store of 3,800 kilograms of ammonia as a refrigerant to keep the warehouse at a stable four degrees Celsius.
A fatal incident at an ice arena in BC recently resulted in increased enforcement emphasis on the use and storage of ammonia by WorkSafeBC.
John Sykes, Director of Operations says, “We have never had a leak due to our preventative and due diligence approach. The health of our workers has always been our core value. We have always worked to the highest standard and beyond; and we chose to do a major control upgrade in 2014, which has made it relatively easy to meet any problems noted.”
Earth’s Own ammonia exposure control plan starts with isolating all on-site ammonia, improving the ventilation system and increasing sensors monitoring the air quality 24/7. Only a properly equipped and trained engineer is allowed in the isolated ammonia compressor room.
An engineer is on-call from the time the plant closes until it reopens. The engineer is contacted if either security or refrigerant companies detect a measurable leak. An emission as small as 25 ppm is enough to trigger the alarms and safety protocols. On Sunday morning, the engineer approves the reopening of the plant.
“Over the years, we’ve become more aware of the hazards of breathing in even small amounts of ammonia. Technology has helped develop really good automated solutions.”
Earth’s Own has been able to respond positively and quickly to any regulatory or enforcement changes because it has a long history of following best industry practices and documenting all design changes and maintenance records. Workers are kept updated on changes through an active joint health and safety committee and participate in a full evacuation drill every six months.
To help companies using ammonia as part of their manufacturing processes, in March 2018, WorkSafeBC updated and reissued Ammonia in Refrigeration Systems which describes the hazards of ammonia and how to prevent and control exposure.