Employees Drive Safety at Doe Run
16 Aug 2019
When it comes to safety, we won’t be satisfied with our performance until we have zero accidents. In 2018, employees helped create and launch several new safety initiatives to help us improve.
“Every Doe Run employee, from interns to upper management, is charged with thinking about the safest way to do their job,” said Justin Province, production superintendent at Resource Recycling. “I tell my team that no one knows how to do their job as well as they do, so we rely on employees to elevate safety issues and help develop solutions.”
In 2018, employees assisted in several safety improvements across the company, thanks to their contributions to our first ever SLAM safety competition. Employees submitted their best ideas for improving worker safety, using the SLAM (which stands for Stop, Look, Analyze, Manage) risk management framework from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The employees with the top three safety solutions received a prize. Richard Snow, an electrician who has worked at Doe Run for 13 years, was one employee with a winning idea.
“One of the issues we had was co-workers calling the electrical shop when their equipment stopped running for no apparent reason. Frequently, the solution was simply resetting the electrical trip breakers – just like restarting your computer when it locks up,” said Richard. “But employees didn’t know how to do this. By the time they notified the maintenance department and an electrician could reach them, they may have lost 30 minutes of production time. I proposed training employees to identify when a situation requires a simple reset, and to safely do it themselves, so they can more quickly get their equipment back up and running.”
Richard taught dozens of hands-on classes for employees. The work led to more in-depth electrical training for supervisors as well.
Improving safety is a continuous process. Our employees are often the best source for new ideas, which is why we are empowering employees to help create new programs that solve safety issues.Anthony Staley, general manager – Resource Recycling
Learning from Near-Incidents
The number of incidents at Resource Recycling was reduced in 2018, largely because of a new process for examining and learning from the incidents that didn’t happen.
“Part of reducing our incident rate is giving near-incidents as much attention as actual accidents,” said Justin. “We introduced a new process where the management team and general manager review each incident and near miss to understand what happened and come up with plans to prevent similar incidents in the future. Our employees help elevate these situations to our attention.”
Among the changes we’re implementing at Resource Recycling are a new trenching and excavation policy to keep employees safe near open trenches, and a new parking policy that will better secure vehicles when they’re parked within the plant.
At our Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling Division (SEMO), we are improving employee task training on equipment. Beginning in 2019, employees will have the opportunity to practice at their own pace until they can safely use machinery in a productive work setting. We are also rolling out tools to make it easier for employees to document and cordon off potentially hazardous areas. In addition, employees will focus on reporting near-incidents so we can catalog and learn from them to prevent actual incidents.
Despite our ongoing commitment to continuous safety improvement, like any workplace, accidents can still happen. Tragically, we experienced a fatality at our Resource Recycling facility in March 2019, as we were working on this report. We are cooperating with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate the cause of the accident.
Reducing Blood Lead Levels
Resource Recycling achieved another year of record-low employee blood-lead levels in 2018. In lead mining and lead battery recycling, blood-lead levels measure the trace amount of lead in the bloodstream. Our employees have their blood tested regularly to ensure their safety. We remove workers from high-exposure jobs if they reach 30 micrograms of lead per deciliter of whole blood (μg/dL), but use a much more stringent level of 19 μg/dL as a tracking milestone to be even more protective. By comparison, the adjusted OSHA standard for medical reassignment of an employee is 53 μg/dL.
Employees at every operation are required to follow specific hygiene and safety procedures. At locations where there is more lead dust, such as some buildings at Resource Recycling, employees are required to wear more protective equipment, like a full-face respirator. Other locations, like the mines, have very limited exposure because the lead is still in hard rock form. Depending on an employee’s job duties and location, precautions may include:
- Wearing personal protective equipment, such as a full-face respirator, glasses and gloves;
- Wearing a uniform that is laundered after use;
- Washing hands and changing uniforms before eating; or
- Showering before heading home for the day.
We work one-on-one with any employee with levels above the threshold to make sure they are following hygiene best practices, and we may even reassign them to another area of the plant if necessary. In 2018, only 11 employees at Resource Recycling had levels over 19 μg/dL, compared with 134 employees just two years earlier. Blood-lead levels also dropped at SEMO, where only four employees exceeded 19 μg/dL.
“Managing employee hygiene practices is another place where our employees have brought new ideas to us,” said Justin. “We have ongoing safety meetings and follow protective equipment and hygiene policies to help reduce exposure. Additionally, employees’ job and work area knowledge help them see other solutions that can make a huge impact on safety.”
For example, the crews at the blast furnace control area at Resource Recycling identified that covering the control room walls with plexiglass made it easier to clean potential lead dust from the wall. Read more about how we are keeping blood-lead levels low here.
In 2018, several of Doe Run’s locations achieved important safety milestones as a result of our safe work practices:
- Sweetwater Mill surpassed 21 years with no lost-time accidents.
- Brushy Creek Mill surpassed 12 years with no lost-time accidents.
- SEMO Port surpassed 12 years with no lost-time accidents.
- Our manufacturing subsidiary, Fabricated Products, Inc.’s (FPI), Seafab Metals location surpassed 18 years with no lost-time accidents.
Read more about our safety achievements here.