Terry McDonald: Site Safety

You’ve worked hard on your safety program, and the proof is in the documentation.

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Is a safety program an income producer? Of course not, but it does contribute to our infamous “bottom line.” An active, documented safety program can and does contribute to a drastic lowering of insurance costs, as well as increasing productive time by lowering time lost due to injuries. You should notice that I specified “documented” safety program, and this has to do with the insurance companies. If you can show your insurance company documented proof of an active effort on your company’s part to increase safety, your insurance rates will be improved. The small amount of effort involved in recording your various efforts aimed at improving the safety of your employees will be well worth it in the long run, and in these days of spreadsheets and databases, it hardly takes any time at all.

In the same vein, our friends at OSHA are expecting our yearly report on workplace injuries. Please make sure that you have complied in order to avoid being hit with a fine.

There is a lot of good information that applies to all of us at www.saftgard.com. It seems to be a good resource for keeping up with what’s happening with OSHA, NIOSH, and the other various regulatory agencies, and I recommend it.

Gear Solutions is focusing on lubrication in this issue. What does lubrication have to do with safety? Well, in the most unfortunate scenario, the lack of proper lubrication can cause a moving axis of the machine to instantly freeze, and the resulting forces can make items fly off the machine, causing great injuriesä or worse. There are other safety factors to consider concerning lubrication, however. Lube oil is a chemical compound that, in the name of better protecting the machines, can have additives that irritate the skin, cause allergic reactions, and just plain smell. We must protect our workers from these hazards, and we must maintain Material Safety Data (MSD) sheets on all of the different oils we use in the shop. Often, we tend to forget to request these sheets from our suppliers because we are in a hurry, we think we already have this information, or we just don’t think of it when ordering. Unfortunately, this leaves us open to some pretty hefty fines if we are reviewed by OSHA. Again, this is a small, low-cost item that must be part of our safety program, and too often it is forgotten. It is something you should emphasize to all your employees who may order any chemicals for your companyãalways request MSD sheets!

By the way, it is a requirement that the MSD sheets be kept on file and in an accessible place for all employees to review.

Another article this month relates to data-retrieval software. All of the items I have discussed in this column are items that lend themselves to a system of data-retrieval that is available without having to purchase specific software. With the use of a simple database setup in any of the popular office packages that we all have available, we can easily document and keep track of our safety programs in a manner that will have the information readily available for any use, whether that be for insurance purposes or otherwise. If you have any questions concerning how such a database should be set up or presented, please feel free to contact me through this magazine’s Web site and I will be happy to share my database set-up technique.

One last thought: safety awareness often comes in big, unmanageable hunks only after an accident occurs. If we all concentrate on the small, individual aspects of a good safety program, then we will be able to keep those big accidents from occurring in the first place.

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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].