Associate involvement makes safety program work

David Marshall, Robroy Industries
Tags: workplace safety

"If it is to be, it is up to me."

- Robroy Shield Program motto

It was not too long ago that many manufacturing companies considered accidents and their resulting costs part of the expense of doing business. However, today’s progressive business managers understand that reducing or eliminating costs related to safety failures has a positive impact on the bottom line. As a result, companies are creating better safety programs that not only benefit the financial health of the organization but also significantly improve protection provided to individuals on the job.

At Robroy Industries, we recognize that our associates must be our partners in the effort of ensuring safety and health in our working environment. We also know that making any change in the plant environment can be difficult. Part of that challenge lies in getting everyone from management to plant floor associates to fully participate. Therefore, when we committed ourselves to creating an effective safety program for our plants, we knew that we had to involve every level of our team in the development and implementation.

The Shield Program: Include All Team Members
During the development phase of the Robroy Industries safety program, we established a company-wide development group comprised of a wide variety of associates from every area of our business – the goal of which was to create our program’s master guidelines. The group proposed standards and non-negotiable safety criteria that were developed on the basic understanding that each individual knows his or her job better than anyone else. That knowledge includes a distinct awareness of everyday hazards and risks. Consequently, the resulting guidelines form an effective foundation for a comprehensive, associate-generated safety program. Because this effort is intended to protect our people, we named it The Shield Program.

The five basic Shield Program guidelines are as follows:

1) Safety Habits: Maintain safe work habits.

2) Safety Interaction: You are responsible for ensuring all your team members are informed and prepared to effectively do their job.

3) Safety Education: Education and proper training pays off.

4) Safety Lifestyle: Taking care of your mind and body determines how effective you’ll be on the job.

5) Safety Diligence: Don’t take unnecessary risks.

The Results of the Shield Program: Positive Long-Term Changes

The Shield Program has been very effective in creating an open dialogue that has allowed us to not only solve safety problems in our plants, but also to anticipate and prevent such problems.

Two of our associates, production manager Chuck Hibner and production supervisor Jerry Davis, have this to say about the Shield Program: “Since starting the Shield Program, our plant associates have become more conscious, more involved, and more responsive because they have more of a say in what is happening around the plant. Now, our associates are basically running the program with their suggestions and we as management have become their support. Our SMP (Self-Managed Performance) Program also ties also into this because everyone is responsible for this company, the products we produce and the service we provide, and the safety of our associates."

A host of safety changes have made been since the start of the Shield Program. A few examples are as follows:

Threader Machine

Submitted by Hibner and Davis, Robroy Conduit Division, Gilmer, Texas:

“This machine can produce sparks when the pipe is being threaded at each end. Two people work on the machine at the same time, one at each end. What would happen is that sparks would fly out of both ends of the machine, posing a safety hazard for each operator. Those operators brought this problem to the attention of the Shield council with the recommendation that a clear safety shield be placed in the middle to block the sparks from flying. The shield was installed and the safety of both operators has been greatly improved.”

Heating Elements

Submitted by Garvin Williams, Robroy Conduit line associate and Shield council member, Gilmer:

“In our plant at Robroy, it is necessary to replace the heating elements on top of a production-related oven. However, when the oven was first installed, we did not fully understand how difficult such a replacement procedure could be. There were, at that time, no rails to hang on to and it was difficult to maintain balance. Our associates, through the Shield program, suggested to management that rails and chains be installed to correct that danger. Management supported the recommendation and installed the rails and chains. That not only helped our balance, but our backs, too.”

Emergency Stop on Casing Machines

Submitted by Rocky Dyer, Duoline project manager, Duoline Technologies, Odessa, Texas:

“On the casing machines at Duoline, a manual-operating emergency stop switch was installed on the extracting back end (helper end). Previously, the machines just had one emergency stop switch on the front side (operator side). Now with both ends of the machine having emergency stop switches, both the operator and the helper can shut down the machine in an emergency situation.”

First Responder Training

Submitted by Florence Burk, human resources administrator, Duoline Technologies, Odessa:

“CPR, AED and first-aid training was delivered to all supervisors and specified associates. These individuals are those to be first called upon during an injury or accident in the Duoline plant. They assess the incident and give first aid, CPR or AED assistance, as needed. Currently, 16 associates have had first responder training. All of the trained first responders now have red uniforms to differentiate themselves from the other associates, making them clearly visible throughout the plant.”

Safety Carried Over to Customers

Submitted by Mark Becker, lead associate, hand lay-up group, Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures, Belding, Mich.:

“Recently, Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures launched the expansion of its Control Tower Series of large industrial enclosures. Added into this expansion was a slim version of the standard free-standing design up to 90 inches x 72 inches. Overlooked was the potential for the enclosure to tip forward onto the person if the doors were opened before the enclosure was secured to its mounting surface. As the lead associate in Stahlin’s hand lay-up department, I was the first to notice this condition during the initial production runs and immediately brought it to engineering’s attention. While I was not concerned so much for Stahlin’s internal processes (the enclosure is mostly lying on its back during final assembly), it was a definite concern to safeguard customers installing the units in the field. Our department and engineering immediately developed a stabilizing method and got a warning sticker placed on the outside of each door to warn the customer of a tipping hazard. This method is now incorporated into all designs that have the tendency for tipping during installation.”

ROI and Conclusion
Maintaining safety and health in our workplace allows us to not only protect our team members but also allows us to achieve our business goals and maintain our competitive edge. It is that competitive edge that guarantees our continuing success. Since all of our plants implemented this program, we have seen positive results. Not only have we been able to significantly reduce the number of incidents in the plants, but also the severity of an incident (lost time). Some of our plants in 2006 and 2007 reported zero lost days, while the others reported less than 30 compared to earlier years of reporting more than 100.

For more information on Robroy Industries, visit

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