ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. — The members of the Manufacturing Safety Leadership Council, or MSLC, at AEDC are witnessing the rewards of having involvement from team members to achieve a superior safety mindset.
Since the beginning of the fiscal year 2017, the council and AEDC craft workers have implemented solutions to 181 self-reported findings due to the involvement of the craft team performing field installation work in the plant and test areas, the manufacturing fabrication areas and the laboratories.
The findings typically deal with housekeeping, electrical hazards, trips and slips, hazmat, building maintenance, eye safety, fire safety, lighting, guarding and fall safety, which affect all team members at the Complex.
Members of the council implemented a process in January called a “Hazard Hunt” to find unsafe conditions during a one hour safety stand-down which aided in the discovery of 197 findings. During the stand-down, craft and administrative team members worked together to survey their work areas and other teammates work areas to find hazards. To add a little competitive spirit and fun to the hunt, points were given for the highest number of hazards identified, the most hazards corrected during the hunt, the most serious hazard discovered, the most ideas generated to improve safety, and the area inspected with the fewest unsafe findings.
A continued process for the council, which was exercised in the hunt, is having craft workers visit work areas outside of their own area to identify unsafe items on a routine basis.
“We try to put fresh eyes in every area,” said Robby Brannan, Chairman of the MSLC and boilermaker at AEDC. “People are taken from their work area to an unfamiliar area in the hopes that they will spot unsafe items that the person working in the area might overlook.”
As stated by several of the council members during a recent meeting, craft members talk daily at morning toolbox meetings and continue these discussions throughout the workday and openly discuss their findings with their peers. Having a council member in every craft group makes it easy to capture these findings which might otherwise be lost in the communication process.
The council is composed of six voluntary craft representatives including boilermakers, pipefitters, machinists, sheet metal workers, ironworkers and electricians along with management representatives.
Scott Henninger, a deputy group manager, and Dave Simmons, a group manager, are pleased with the results of the council and credit the success to the relationship between the council members, the workers and the management.
“This is a craft-led and craft-run safety action meeting that has proven extremely successful in keeping our folks safe,” Simmons said. “We have seen a 74 percent reduction in safety hazards since the beginning of the Test Operations and Sustainment contract in July.”
Brannan believes the workers are willingly reporting the findings because they see safety hazards being resolved. He said in order to start the process of repair or elimination, they must “classify the findings to address the issue.” This may involve weighing the importance of better lighting against installing fall restraints and the team members’ inputs are a contributing factor in the decisions. A list of findings and corrected safety issues are posted for all team members to see throughout the Complex as well as photos and contact information for council members who receive reports to present during the MSLC meeting.
The council and team members had success with the installation of a laser curtain for a 60 year old, 500-ton Cincinnati Press Brake.
The press brake is used to bend steel plates up to three-quarters inch thick and 14-feet long. The safety concern for the apparatus is that the press uses large flywheels and once it is triggered, it can’t be easily stopped. If a person comes into close proximity to the moving parts, they could be injured because there wasn’t an emergency mechanism to stop the press movement.
“Manufacturing employees Marlin Stephens, an electrician, and Tracy McDonald, an industrial engineer, played instrumental roles in researching available systems and worked with several vendors to adapt their safety standard controls to match our need,” Henninger said. “The final [solution was a] system commonly called a laser curtain that senses when a person or object has crossed into a danger zone.
“The unique feature that our operators demanded was that the system had to know the difference between the part being bent and a foreign object such as a hand. To do this the system operator scans the gap and locks in a profile prior to releasing the press for each bending cycle. Marlin also integrated a rear infrared system into the control system to protect personnel behind the press.”
AEDC machinists and welders designed and installed guards to protect the laser curtain system from damage.
Henninger said as a result of their lessons learned on the large Cincinnati Press, similar systems are being installed on other machines in the Machine Shop. Newer presses and shears are being specified to have the systems factory installed by the suppliers.
Another solution called for the replacement of a 40 year old load bank fabricated by AEDC workers to test 440 volt welders that was previously accepted as standard practice in the past. Due to the advances in technology over the years, a new load bank was purchased that better protects workers and meets current codes.
The Manufacturing Safety Leadership Council members include Robby Brannan, Ken Delaney, Paul Gallagher, Kevin Glaser, Kendall Hampton, Scott Henninger, Jim Hereford, Tracy McDonald, Shannon Medley, Paul Mosley, Clara Sanders, Tim Scott, Dave Simmons, Jeff Tate, Darrell Townsend and Bob Williams.
Any MSLC member may be contacted to report a safety hazard in the manufacturing and laboratory areas.