This is a Dangerous Business

This is a Dangerous Business

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When I heard about the recent criminal conviction of a site manager whose negligence took the lives of three employees, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I was incensed at the fact that someone in a management position would risk the lives of workers in order to save time or money. And I was reminded that manufacturing is a dangerous business that imposes an almost sacred responsibility on management for the safety of workers.

That may sound funny. People wouldn’t ordinarily view manufacturing casters as a dangerous occupation. The reality is that our employees work every day with all kinds of machinery that exerts huge amounts of force. If the equipment is mishandled or if a malfunction is not responded to properly, then injuries can happen. Believe me, I’ve seen my share of minor mishaps and even one or two serious incidents – and they are not pretty.

Safety is always top of mind for me. It’s always on my agenda and here’s what we are doing about protecting the safety of our staff.

Daily Walk-Through. Every day at 7:15 am, I’m accompanied by our VP of Manufacturing, our Plant Manager and our Quality Assurance Manager on a full walk through of the plant. While production is a large part of our focus, I am always watching out for matters of safety. Are employees wearing the correct safety gear? Are the exits clear? Are aisles uncluttered? Is machinery being used properly? If I see anything that is amiss, it gets dealt with immediately.

Health & Safety Committee. Just having such a committee isn’t a big deal but fully vesting it with independent authority is. The majority of our Health & Safety Committee members are employees, not management. And yet they have tremendous responsibility for the ongoing safety in our plant. They meet regularly, conduct their own frequent walkthroughs and create policy. I purposely stay at arms length from the Committee because even the tiniest possibility that safety would be sacrificed  – or be perceived to have been sacrificed – for any financial purpose is reprehensible.

Incident Response. When something goes wrong, I want to understand what happened in complete detail. On occasion I have spent hours reviewing video from the plant floor in order to be fully understand the cause of  – and the response to – a safety situation. Ultimately, it’s never just one factor that leads to an accident. There are always numerous cascading causes and being able to trace the root of the problem is critical.

Communicate. When it comes to safety there is a straight line from the factory floor to my office. I want to know about anything that is having an effect on the safety of our staff.  When something goes wrong, I personally speak with the production team involved. The point of the conversation is not to criticize or berate but rather to determine the steps that will make sure the problem never re-occurs. At full staff gatherings, it’s important that I’m the one who speaks about the importance of safety so that our employees understand that it’s an absolute priority.

Whenever I hear about a worker that is seriously injured or God forbid dies on the job, I am mortified. Every one of those incidents is preventable and I often think that if company owners or managers had been less concerned with profit and more concerned with safety, the incident would never have occurred.

At Algood our greatest investment is our employees and we will do whatever it takes to keep that investment safe and secure.

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Algood Casters has manufactured, designed and developed industrial and specialty casters, brakes and wheels since 1969, in capacities from 25 to 65,000 lbs.