Terry McDonald: Site Safety

Regularly scheduled safety meetings are an important means of keeping everyone aware of the company's policies, and also of gathering information from the front lines in the ongoing battle against injuries.

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Regularly scheduled safety meetings are an important means of keeping everyone aware of the companyís policies, and also of gathering information from the front lines in the ongoing battle against injuries.

Are you planning on attending IMTS? Are you sending your key personnel? Are you looking to buy? These are all questions that, as employers, we will be asked many times prior to the September opening of IMTS. If your answer to any of these questions was yes, then I would propose another series of questions. Will you or your people be looking for the safest equipment? Will these people be looking for innovative new ways to make your existing equipment safer? Do you consider safety a major factor when purchasing new equipment?

All of these last questions should be answered in the affirmative. The IMTS show is the prime time to consider safety. This is the time when you will have all of the people available to you that can improve your operation, and not only in terms of production, but also from a safety standpoint. Make sure that you take the time to search out the answers; you will never have a better opportunity.

This month I want discuss the safety meetings that you hopefully have in your companies on a regular basis. Safety meetings are the time to review the past problems that your company has experienced, and also to review the new ideas about safer methods that have been advanced by all of the members of your organization. So let’s talk about safety meetings.

• How often should they be held?
Safety meetings should be scheduled depending upon your companyís state of preparedness. The meetings must be conducted semiannually at a minimum, and more often as needed. You should be open to “emergency” meetings that may be required due to an accident or incident.

• Who should attend?
Of course, all the members of your standing safety committee, as well as other employees who want to contribute thoughts and ideas. If someone from upper management is not a member of the committee, they should have representation at the meeting.

• Who runs the meeting?
The committee should elect a chairperson to head this committee and keep it focused on the safety matters at hand. This should not be a member of upper management, but a person involved in the day-to-day operation of the plant.

• What should the agenda be?
It should include minutes from the previous meeting, of course, with time to discuss the assignments made in the previous meeting, time allotted for non-members to contribute, discussion of needed changes to the company’s safety standards, assignments for the next scheduled meeting, and the date on which it will be held. One of the most important items should be a discussion of how well the present standards are performing. This single item will tell the committee if their efforts are working. Each member of the committee must be allowed to contribute, and it must be made clear that their contributions are not in vain.

• How long should a meeting take?
This will depend upon the condition of the company’s present safety standards. I would expect that a company that already has a safety manual and a safety committee in place should spend no more than one hour in a typical meeting, but a company that’s just starting out or has no formal safety program in place will require much more time and many more meetings in order to get up to speed. You want this to happen rapidly, so “bite the bullet” and concentrate on these meetings.

• What is our purpose?
The first thing that should happen when starting a safety committee is to establish a published mission statement. This should be a short and concise statement of what your company is trying to accomplish by creating this committee. This statement must be available to all employees and management, and there must be 100-percent consensus among the members and management.

This is a good start, but if any of you have suggestions I would be happy to hear them. You can contact me at the number or e-mail address listed below.

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is partner and manager of Repair Parts, Inc., and a current member and past–chairman of the American National Standards Institute B11.11 Subcommittee on Safety Requirements for Construction, Care, and Use of Gear Cutting Equipment. McDonald writes this monthly column specifically for Gear Solutions magazine, and he can be reached at (815) 968–4499 or rpi@repair–parts–inc.com. The company's Web site is [www.repair–parts–inc.com].