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The symbiotic relationship between plant reliability and plant safety was explored by Andrew Fraser, MD of change management consultancy, Reliable Manufacturing. Fraser illustrated the link with accident data sourced from across the globe. “This graph is from a $10m US paper company. Over a five-year period, they compared their injury rate in red with their asset utilisation rate in blue. Every fall in the blue line corresponds with a rise in the red and vice-versa. Can you see some sort of relationship?,” asked Fraser. “The more maintenance work that’s planned and scheduled, the lower the injury rate,” he said.

Maintenance technicians: not for the faint-hearted Failure to plan maintenance activity places one employee in particular danger, Fraser added. “DuPont reported that the most likely person to be injured in one of their plants was a maintenance technician with less than two years’ experience doing reactive work. Why was that person more vulnerable? Because the more experienced person is more familiar with all the workarounds.” However, in a plant permitting workarounds and

shortcuts, not even the wiliest maintenance worker can stay safe for long. Peter Walsh, chief executive of the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE), offered a salutary tale from his experiences at an operational maintenance contracting company in Australia. An operator, anxious not to be late for his son’s

birthday party, was attending an isolation procedure at the end of the day, revealed Walsh. Dressed in flip-flops and shorts for a speedier exit, the operator breached multiple safety protocols to fast track the repair job. Various workarounds later and the operator came into contact with a live 11Kv line, which blew the tip of his finger off, explained the SOE chief.

Turning a blind eye to blatant safety breaches From poor scheduling of work to sleep-deprivation, a post-accident investigation threw up an encyclopaedic list of potential causes. But one factor stood out above all others for Walsh. “The thing that really hit home to me was that when this accident happened, we had a supervisor standing in the room talking with another worker. It wasn’t just this one guy doing the wrong thing, it was a company culture. It was okay for our workers to walk around in electrical substations doing isolations without hard hats. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that’s wrong.” Putting things right again takes a passionate and very

public effort from managers, delegates heard. Chemicals and textiles manufacturer Milliken offered a benchmark in turning safety from a corporate buzzword into a company-wide belief. “In 1981, Roger Milliken [then Milliken president]

promised safety would be a priority,” explained Paul Crabtree, quality engineer at the company’s Best Factory Award-winning Bury site. “This means the first subject at July/August 2014 »

Quotes of the day

“I get really tired of hearing about safety being a burden on business. It isn’t, it never has been... Failure to give the right priority to maintenance and to safety leads to poor reliability and low productivity; it’s an unhealthy mindset that leads to real risks in health and safety and puts the business itself at risk.” Judith Hackitt, chair of the Health and Safety Executive

“The premium you will pay will reflect your attitude so, when people like myself come on site asking lots of horrible questions, all we are trying to do is to help you reduce your insurance premium.” Alan Fitzpatrick, UL-recognised risk engineer, CNA Europe/BES

“Reliability is magic. Just about every indicator I can think about – safety, environmental performance, morale, retention, customer service – gets better if we establish reliability as a core value in our organisation.” Andrew Fraser, managing director, Reliable Manufacturing

“Breaches of regulations can give rise to criminal sanction. You can find yourself in the crown or magistrates’ court. If you go into the magistrates’ court [the potential sanction is] £20,000 or 12 months in prison for each offence. If you go to the crown court then it is an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison for every offence.” Carl Dray, partner, Nabarro

“One of the big problems for a global business is how do you spread the culture and maintain that culture standard right across the business base? How do you not fall foul of ‘ah well, culture and practice in that country means we don’t do service in the same way’, for example? Some of the work that the HSE are doing about taking some of our good learning outside the UK hopefully will support and help those businesses to make sure they maintain a benchmark standard.” Carolyn Issitt, head of membership development, IOSH

“Some people don’t want a proactive culture, they are happy to be on a reactive cycle. You have to want it – and there is a good business case for wanting it. What we are trying to do is put good maintenance practices in place that are the platform for a great production operation... Ultimately, that gives us reduced cost to produce, improved productivity and a safe plant.” Derek Hill,managing director, Advanced Technology Services

“In terms of safety culture, you need to set objectives, incentivise (people need to see benefits, and not just in their own welfare, so consider financial incentives), measure, feedback and reward.” Neil Nevill, GB & IE business manager for Siemens Industry Automation Service


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