FIA Recognizes Safety Achievements at Annual Meeting

At the annual meeting of the Forging Industry Association in May, more than 40 companies were recognized for achieving excellent safety records during 2003

Seventy-eight forging companies participated in the Occupational Injury and Illness Survey and Awards Program of the Forging Industry Association for the 2003 calendar year.

When the survey results were tallied, the overall DART Incidence Rate (Days Away, Restricted, or Job Transfer) declined by 14% for 2003 compared to the 2002 reporting year. According to FIA officials, this makes it the lowest recorded incidence rate since FIA started tracking this statistic.

Plaques were presented to 21 companies with the lowest DART incidence rates, and greatest improvements, in four company size groups, during the May 15-18, 2004 Annual Meeting of Members in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Certificates were presented to an additional 25 companies.

The winners were determined by incident and severity rates as reported on logs required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The FIA Safety and Health Committee evaluates OSHA-recordable incidents, including total deaths, total lost-workday cases, total incidents involving days away from work, total number of days away from work, total days of restricted work activity, total injuries and illnesses without lost workdays, total employee hours worked, and annual number of employees.

The awards were presented in four company-size categories: Group I includes companies with up to 80 employees, Group II is for companies with 81 to 175 employees, Group III is for companies with 176 to 325 employees, and Group IV is for companies with more 326 employees and more.

The committee determined first-, second-, and third-place awards for the lowest incidence and severity rates.

An improvement award was given to one company in each company-size category experiencing the greatest improvement in incidence rate statistics. This award is determined by the percentage of improvement by incidence rate compared with the last three year’s average.

The honorees are listed in sidebars.

Mike Wicklund, Missouri Forge, Doniphan, MO, shared details of the Group 2 first-place and improvement award-winning safety program at his company with attendees at the FIA annual meeting. He agreed to share the following summary with readers of Forging.

“All of us have a serious commitment to safety. We try to provide a safe healthy environment in which our employees can work. To do that we all have safety programs geared to accomplish that goal.

“At Missouri Forge we certainly have such a program, and like yours’, ours encompasses:

a. Employee involvement; b. Educating and training employees; c. Safety meetings; d. Housekeeping; e. Award programs; and, f. Emphasis on OSHA standards.

“Safety programs are extremely important. However, sometimes you must look beyond the normal items. Forging plants are filled with inherently dangerous machines that must be operated and maintained properly. We try to focus on the little things wherever possible.

“One area on which we have focused on a lot of attention is trim presses. Missouri Forge started in West Chicago in 1972 in a old beat up board hammer shop we named West Chicago Forge. That plant was an OSHA nightmare with basically nothing in compliance with the then-new rules. The trim presses were the old “clickety-clack” mechanical dog presses with no shields on the flywheels. All of you old timers remember exactly what I’m talking about. One thing you could say about them was that there was no doubt whether or not they were running.

“We started building our new plant in Doniphan Missouri in 1979 on a vacant piece of land. New building, new hammers,new presses. Everything was new and built to OSHA standards. The worst accident in company history happened a couple of years after startup. Our day-shift foreman went to grind on the trim dies to remove burrs during lunch break. He turned off the trim press and touched up the trim die.

“He then moved to the adjacent identical trim press to touch up that die. In his hurry and in his mind having turned off the press, he began to work on the die. Unfortunately he had not turned off the second press and because it was new, quiet, and the flywheel completely covered, he was not aware it was running (this was prior to our lock-out, tag-out program). He accidentally tripped the foot pedal and the press cycled. He lost part of his thumb and index finger on his right hand.

“The sad part is that this accident would never have happened in the old plant. It happened on a new OSHA compliant press.

“After investigating the accident, I immediately had all the guards removed from the trim presses and a 6-in. square hole cut on the inside next to the operator. The hole was covered with plexiglass. We also painted a white strip on the flywheel. This modification made it absolutely clear to the operator whether or not the press was running.

“Other changes to our trim presses involve PLCs. We have converted all our presses to run using PLCs to control them. We can program them to electronically pulse the motors to slow rotation of the flywheels. The flywheels now stop in 15-30 seconds instead of the 2-3 minutes required previously. This stops the operators from hitting the reverse buttons to slow the flywheel and speeds up set up time resulting in a cost saving.

“We also program the presses to stop the ram when the operator’s foot is off the foot pedal. Palm buttons are installed and are programmed for use during setup.

“Another recent change that has improved our safety record is switching to ‘high-visibility mast’ forklifts. We traded in all our old forklifts and have a three-year lease program with new forklifts that all have the high-visibility masts. As a result, the operators can see better and don’t run into things as often, with the result that forklift damage to both buildings and equipment has been significantly reduced, which is a cost saving. Also there has been no injury related to forklifts since the changeover.

“At Missouri Forge we have tried to go a small step beyond the conventional safety programs to make our workplace safer. Small improvements can have a high impact on safety as well as reducing overall costs.”

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