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Safety in the Workplace

I wanted to take a minute to talk about workplace safety. This topic is an important one, though often it hardly gets the attention it deserves.

Recently, at Nucor Yamoto Steel in Blytheville, Arkansas a man named Jon was killed in an incident at the mill. Although I did not know him personally, I know that the people that we work with at Nucor did and the accident impacted them and his family greatly. There are no do-overs. Nucor is a very safe environment with many safety practices in place to protect the people that work there, but there are still areas for improvement. Our Oil Chiller manager, Shawn, who was speaking to our contact at Nucor, was told that their mill was shut down for a period of time to review every process and procedure to make sure that an accident of this nature would not happen again. If you did not know, he was crushed when a lifting device let go while he was operating the crane. Details like this, while graphic in nature, accurately describe the grave importance of safety precautions.

In the many years that I've been in the industry, I too have experienced my fair share of safety scares. This terrible accident takes me back to the memory of a workplace incident that I experienced in my early years working on machinery. The reason it happened, whether it was fate or chance, was that there was an explosion that took place, which ended up injuring a coworker and not me. On the morning of the day of the incident, we had talked about who wanted to do what job on a die-cast machine that we were rebuilding. He decided to weld the switch bracket while I would handle some other tasks. At some point during the work, an explosion occurred. Someone placed a barrel with a small amount of Methyl Ethyl Ketone left in it near the work area, which is highly volatile. When he started welding, the barrel exploded, setting him on fire. I was the first one to reach him and I put him out and stayed with him until the paramedics arrived. That situation was completely avoidable but is a part of his life to this day. Due to a completely preventable situation, my coworker had 3rd-degree burns over 75% of his body and spent over 6 months in the hospital with multiple skin graphs. Years have passed, but this incident still bothers me to this very day.

All World's own service staff has had several safety training sessions with DS&P on multiple topics for our own personal safety because we don’t want to see any of our own getting hurt on the job, or worse. We will continue to hold safety training to try to ensure that every member of our team is aware of how to work safely, and to not be put into a situation where injury can occur. These procedures go down to even the most simple requirements, such as marking work zones on the floor, telling people to wear safety shoes, and requiring protective eyewear.

The topic is also holding importance due to a few service requests I've had recently from our own staff, that honestly are just innocent requests to help our customers out. These requests entailed redoing the way a machine works- for example- replacing one type of hand safety device for a footswitch so the operator would have a hand free to move parts around while the machine was running. My answer: "NO! - Never! - Don’t even think about it!"

Safety devices are put in place on machinery to protect people who operate the machines. Everyone in this business will at times see bypassed safety equipment that you are asked to work on or supply parts for. For anyone in sales, you must be diligent if safety equipment is involved and kindly tell them “no, we cannot bypass the built-in safeties”. Service teams must notify the customer contact immediately and tell them that safety equipment is bypassed and reactivate it if possible. If they do not want it reactivated, then you must note it in detail on the service report and make sure the customer signs for it. Why? If a machine is modified to bypass safety or allows it to continue to occur, then the last person working on it can be responsible as the last person to have touched it. So if someone gets hurt, or killed then it is you who will be one of the responsible parties when OSHA gets involved.

Think about it. Do you want to be the person responsible for someone being hurt? At the end of the day, the most important thing that anyone in this industry can ask for is for everyone to safely go home in one piece.

Written By: Darrell Janesak, Senior Technology Advisor

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