Terry McDonald: Site Safety

With Gear Expo coming up this November, start making your plans to attend so that you can ask OEMs about the safety features of their new products and equipment.

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Gear Expo is fast approaching. This is the time to network with your peers on safety issues, as well as the many other issues you have on your mind. If you are going to Gear Expo with the intent of purchasing new equipment—be it machines, tooling, inspection equipment, and/or cutting tools—please approach the salespeople with a view toward the safety factors involved with their product. This is an easy way to prepare your safety procedures ahead of time so that, upon receipt and first use of any products purchased, your company is ready from a safety standpoint to protect your employees, as well as meeting current government safety regulations.

Of course, the main objective of attending Gear Expo is to keep up with the latest trends in gear cutting, and I am sure that this year’s Gear Expo will certainly continue this trend. I am expecting to see a lot of excitement to be centered around the gear cutting options now being offered with some of the machining centers. This is certainly an exciting trend that will no doubt continue to grow in popularity. However, this type of machine presents a whole new area of safety hazards and requirements that I must admit I don’t have a good handle on. Therefore, I believe that Gear Expo will be the place to begin my education on the safety requirements involved with this type of machining. I hope that you as safety minded individuals will also take advantage of this opportunity to increase your knowledge and awareness. There is not a better opportunity available to us in the gear industry than this exposition. Even IMTS does not offer this opportunity. The much larger crowds at IMTS make it much more difficult to have a conversation with your suppliers concerning safety, while at Gear Expo the only industry represented is the gear industry, which makes it easier to spend time discussing this important topic.

We have talked about record keeping in this column in the past, but it does bear further consideration. The keeping of accurate records on all of your employees not only describing incidents of illness and accidents along with the results and actions taken, but also safety training (dates, times, subjects covered) records are also required by OSHA, and probably your state health authorities. Each state differs in its administration and penalties for the lack of the proper records, but OSHA can and will issue a citation for each failure to train violation. These can rapidly add up if multiple employees are involved in an incident. Keeping the proper records is, of course, a burden on each of our companies and one of the easiest things to let slide. The financial side of this burden can be partially offset by your cost of insurance. Proper and accurate records will lead to lower insurance rate from most, if not all of the insurance carriers, so that will at the least help. Also, if you have a good working safety program in place, once the records are created the upkeep should be minimal.
Hopefully there are few if any incidents to record. The training is equally important to have recorded and, of course, actually performed on a regular basis. With the economy improving we are in a hiring mode, so training our new hires is of utmost importance. In fact, training should be conducted prior to any new hire actually starting work in our facility. The training must not only include the information necessary to complete the assigned tasks, but also the information on how to accomplish their work in a safe and accident-free manner. It’s important to make clear from the very beginning that safety isn’t an “extra” concern, but one that’s central to everything the company—and the new employee, in particular—is involved in. In the same way that a manufacturing process has been streamlined to be as efficient as possible, and to yield the best-possible parts the company can deliver, the way that an individual approaches his or her job also indicates the quality of the company’s operations. So safety should be taken just as seriously as any other procedure your company performs, and a good safety record is also something that should be shared with customers to help build confidence. 

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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].