1. The Importance of Safety, Health and the Environment

1.1 An Overview of SHE

The particular activities undertaken within a SHE programme will depend to a great extent on the prevailing attitudes toward safety, health and the environment in the company and the local community. Because of this, TPM does not specify any particular policy stipulating how to proceed. The SHE activities described in this chapter and elsewhere in this manual are only examples, and the decision as to whether or not to adopt a particular activity is left entirely up to the facility or company where the activity is to be performed. Attempts have been made to unify safety activities under the ISO standards, but it is difficult to unify safety concerns, and the ISO safety standards remain voluntary initiatives.

There are currently two distinct approaches to implementing SHE activities:

(1) A ‘top-down’ management system that includes both risk analysis and workplace activities.

(2) A shop-floor programme that includes risk analysis and focuses on developing the activities in ‘bottom-up’ fashion.

1.1.1 Top-down management system

The items covered in OSHAS 18001, the de facto standard for this type of system, are:
-1 Scope
-2 Reference Publications
-3 Definitions
-4 OH&S management system elements
-4.1 General requirements
-4.2 OH&S Policy
-4.3 Planning
-4.3.1 Planning for hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control
-4.3.2 Legal and other requirements
-4.3.3 Objectives
-4.3.4 OH&S management program(s)
-4.4 Implementation and operation
-4.4.1 Structure and responsibility
-4.4.2 Training, awareness and competence
-4.4.3 Consultation and communication
-4.4.4 Documentation
-4.4.5 Document and data control
-4.4.6 Operational control
-4.4.7 Emergency preparedness and response
-4.5 Checking and corrective action
-4.5.1 Performance measurement and monitoring
-4.5.2 Accidents, incidents, non-conformance and corrective and preventive action
-4.5.3 Records and records management
-4.5.4 Audit
-4.6 Management review

SHE activities are never complete; they must be continued indefinitely. To ensure that this happens, the items listed above are distributed to the relevant parts of the PDCA cycle, which is then continuously rotated. One flaw in this process is that the activities tend to end up focusing on the acquisition and analysis of data, leaving operators with the impression that the programme has been imposed on them from above and making it difficult for them to want to participate proactively. If managers fail to take a proactive stance by leaving the supervision of the activities to someone else and not staying in constant contact with the workplace, this system is likely to collapse. It can also happen that the system becomes a mere formality after one round of the PDCA cycle. Standards for this type of top-down management system include:

  1. OSHMS (Japan)
  2. JIPM Step Deployment Programme for Eliminating Action-Type Labour Accidents
  4. ISO 9000, ISO14000
  5. OHSAS 18001

1.1.2 Bottom-up, shop-floor program

Operators are the ones who actually have to carry out the safety activities on the shop floor. This approach is an attempt to systematically develop the safety activities that are carried out on a daily basis by the operators. This type of programme consists mainly of voluntary activities, and planned activities including the use of manuals containing checklists of safety items for ensuring that the programme is being carried out.

One problem with these activities is that achievement levels depend very much on the safety awareness of each individual operator. Prevailing local attitudes toward both safety, and interpersonal relationships—especially between supervisors and their subordinates—can turn safety activities away from their true purpose. This makes it imperative for management to monitor the status of such activities carefully. Standards for this type of bottom-up, shop-floor activity include:

  1. USA: DuPont STOP programme
  2. USA: Behavioural Science
  3. Japan: Safety Awareness Training
  4. Japan: ‘Point and Call’ routines

1.1.3 TPM and SHE activity processes

Irrespective of which type of SHE programme a company chooses to implement, it will be closely tied to its TPM programme. In particular, hazard identification and continuous improvement are critical to all activities. The following are examples of programmes implemented for reducing and eliminating identified hazards:

  1. Implementation of legally-mandated measures.
  2. Modifications to safety devices on machinery and equipment (ISO12000).
  3. Use of alternative chemical substances that are almost or entirely harmless.
  4. Installation of localized ventilation equipment.
  5. Continuous improvement of standard operating procedures and methods.
  6. Implementation of safety and health training.

1.1.4 The relationship between OHSAS 18001 and the JIPM Step Deployment Program

JIPM’s Step Deployment programme bears a strong resemblance to the implementation of OHSAS 18001. However, the procedure used in the Step Deployment Programme for identifying and eliminating hazards from the shop floor is much more down-to-earth and practical. The activities help to define the ideal situation, which can then be used as a standard for evaluating the actual situation on site. Targets are established, inspection standards created, and training completed, after which improvement activities can be carried out. Further activities for maintaining and enhancing safety levels include review of safety standards and criteria, implementation of safety assessment, and safety diagnoses by top management, all of which contribute to an upward spiral in safety. JIPM’s Step Deployment programme can thus be regarded as a practical implementation of OHSAS 18001.

2. Safety Programs

It is of the utmost importance to prevent any of the large numbers of people engaged in manufacturing from falling sick or getting injured. All companies must operate a health and safety programme designed to avert illnesses, injuries and accidents, and minimize the effect on individuals and the business if something untoward does happen. Companies must also identify the costs associated with accidents, and seek to prevent the business losses consequent upon them. Health and safety activities of this kind are indispensable for all firms, whatever their size, and the management of health and safety in the workplace means managing the basic measures required in order to ensure that employees can always work under safe and hygienic conditions. Company health and safety management has to conform to the requirements of the applicable labour laws, and laws on health and safety at work.

2.1 Health and Safety and their Relationship with Productivity and Economy

A company’s greatest asset is the people it employs, and respect for humanity should form the basis of all activities in the health and safety field. The idea that safety is paramount must be explicitly stated as a key part of the corporate philosophy and actively promoted both inside and outside the company. An effective safety management plan can be built on the basis of the following key safety policies:

  • Safety is the foundation of all business operations
  • Safety and higher productivity go hand in hand
  • Safety improvements lead to more efficient production
  • Safety improves communication
  • Safety prevents equipment-related losses

Companies that demonstrate a high standard of health and safety management usually have well-defined systems of working and are rigorously managed and highly productive, as well as being extremely cost-effective.Any production operation is in a constant state of flux, and some of the changes that occur from day to day may sow the seeds of potential health problems or accidents. We ourselves are the only ones in a position to spot such problems and nip them in the bud, and it is up to us to do so. However, the only way we can ensure that everything involved is properly controlled is to develop an effective health and safety management system.

2.2 Workplace Incidents and Problems to Be Solved in Creating a Safe Workplace

For every accident that actually occurs at a facility, there are any number of near misses, and true safety cannot be achieved unless these near misses are also eliminated. To put it another way, the difference between an accident and a near miss is nothing more than luck. Near misses reveal hidden risks, and it is crucial to focus on eliminating each and every risk once it has been exposed by a near miss. The following is an explanation of this principle, originally defined by the American engineer H.W. Heinrich.

Workplace problems and the Heinrich principle

The Heinrich principle is a well-known theory relating to accidents. As Figure 11.2 illustrates, it states that for every serious (lost-time) accident that occurs in a workplace, approximately 29 minor injuries such as pinches, cuts or bruises occur, together with a further 300 or so harmless incidents or ‘near-misses’. For example, let us imagine a rolling mill, where an operator wipes the rollers clean with a cloth while they are running. If this is done around once an hour, it means that the operator will touch the rollers eight times a day, or 160 times a month, or around 2,000 times during the course of a complete year. Hence, there is a distinct possibility that the cloth might get caught between the rollers at some point or that the operator may get his hands pinched. If two or three serious accidents have occurred at a site, then the Heinrich principle implies that a large number of minor accidents and harmless incidents will also have occurred. Yet, at many sites like this, first-aid cases and near-misses are not considered to be a major safety concern, and management has no clear idea of the hazardous situation that actually exists on the shop floor. To put it another way, if there have already been 300 near-misses in a workplace, then it should be no surprise if a serious accident happens.

More often than one would expect, upon close examination, our workplace and working practices give plenty of cause for concern (Figure 11.3 shows some typical examples of safety issues for readers to check through and see if any apply to their own situation). This happens because we tend to ignore near misses and minor accidents. Yet, like more serious accidents, these can arise from the smallest of problems – workers slipping on a patch of wet floor, catching and injuring themselves on a protruding object, bruising their knuckles when a spanner slips, tripping over through being in too much of a hurry, and so on. It is extremely rare for the same incident to occur twice in the same place for the same reason, as conditions are always changing. What is more, the same type of accident may be produced by a different combination of causes each time, making it essential to eliminate every conceivable hazard from the shop floor.

Unsafe workplaces generally have poorly defined rules and procedures, if they have any at all, and such standards as may exist are usually ignored. Perhaps your workplace has also lapsed into behaviour that is not truly safe. Does any of the following apply to you?

  • Laudable goals, such as ‘Safety First’ and ‘Zero Accidents’, have been declared, but no specific practical action is being taken to achieve them.
  • Safety patrols do the rounds, but they do not really know what they are looking for; any remedial action suggested is left up to the shop floor and is not followed up.
  • Action is only taken after an accident has actually happened.
  • Action is only aimed at visible problems, leaving the underlying causes of accidents untouched.

The next section takes a closer look at why this type of situation may arise.

2.3 Why do People Fail to Observe Rules Properly?

As Figure 11.4 illustrates, if we want rules to be followed, we must:

• Create a working environment that allows the rules to be observed
• Ensure that the people who have to observe the rules understand why they have to observe them, and let them work out their own ways of doing so.

However, as many case studies attest, knowing this is not in itself enough to build a safe and secure workplace – the company must also know the right way to proceed.

Figure 11.2 The Heinrich principle

An unsafe, insecure working environment

The equipment and machinery cannot be used safely and securely

  • Machinery breaks down unexpectedly, making it impossible to meet the day’s production targets.
  • Changeovers are complex, and are done differently by each person. Adjustments are time-consuming.
  • Frequent rework means that quality checks have to be carried out all the time.
  • The equipment keeps stopping, and operators repeatedly have to restart it.
  • The work tasks cannot be carried out safely and securely
  • There are many difficult or complicated tasks, and operators sometimes make mistakes even when concentrating hard.
  • The workload is not properly balanced, and each person feels that he or she is working harder than anyone else.
  • People feel as though they spend the whole day rushing around.
  • People sometimes get the impression that what they are doing is just a waste of time.
  • The work environment is not worker-friendly
  • There is oil all over the place, overalls get very dirty, and there are danger spots where workers may slip and fall over.
  • Tools, jigs and other implements are not properly sorted and arranged, so operators have to spend time looking for the right ones.
  • The cleaning required after the end of work is time-consuming.
  • Near misses occur from time to time in the course of normal work operations.
  • The workplace is too hot in summer and too cold in winter; many tasks require great physical exertion, and noise levels are high.

Figure 11.4

2.4 The Basic Approaches to Safety

Any safety programme should be based on two main approaches. One of these aims to prevent any incident that has occurred from happening again, and could therefore be termed a reactive approach, while the other tries to identify the potential causes of accidents before the accidents actually happen, and could therefore be termed a proactive approach. The two approaches must be deployed in combination in order to build safe workplaces.

(1) The reactive approach

The starting-point for this approach is an analysis of something that has actually happened. For example, if there has been an accident, then the conditions under which it occurred are carefully investigated, and the causes are analysed from various angles, to ensure that the same incident does not happen again. Steps are also taken to eliminate similar hazards, so that the same kind of accident does not happen elsewhere. Take, for example, a case where someone has got their hand trapped in some rotating machinery, and it has been deduced that the accident happened because the guard rails were set too far apart. Appropriate measures are first taken at the point where the accident occurred, but the spacing between guard rails is also reviewed at other locations in the workplace. If any rails are deemed unsuitable, they are also corrected to prevent the possibility of a similar accident occurring elsewhere. Another part of the reactive approach consists of taking action to eliminate near-misses in all other workplaces, not just in the one where they actually happened. This is still considered reactive because it addresses problems that have already been detected (that is, known danger points). In terms of the Heinrich principle, it is a top-down approach. Because it eradicates causes directly, it prevents the same kinds of accidents from happening twice in the same kinds of situations.

The reactive approach also includes systematic action. A safety policy should be established and then translated into annual and monthly safety action plans, with the results of implementing these plans monitored by monthly consultative committees and safety patrols. A chain of activities like this is very important in establishing safety at work.

(2) The proactive approach

This approach aims to eradicate potential causes while they are still relatively insignificant, and before they actually cause an incident. In terms of the Heinrich principle, this is a bottom-up approach. It is like having a ‘task force’ whose mission is to deal with potential causes before they become actual causes (potential causes are like the suspects in murders, while actual causes are the murderers themselves; if all potential murderers were rounded up before they had a chance to do any mischief, then no murders would ever happen.) These potential causes are the sources of accidents or near-misses, and must therefore be found and eliminated one by one. Standards must then be devised to prevent the potential causes from re-emerging, and the workplace properly managed to ensure that the standards are followed (see Figure 11.5). These two approaches must be implemented in tandem in order to preserve safety in the workplace and eliminate accidents.

Figure 11.5

2.5 The Need for Full Involvement of All Employees

The proactive approach aims to catch problems at the ‘suspect’ stage, and is used to identify potential causes while they are still minor issues. With drive units, for example, this means identifying looseness, abnormal noises, overheating, vibration, and anything else that could lead to a failure, while any problems with fastenings, such as bolts that have worked loose or fallen off, must also be spotted early on. To do this, the workplace must be cleaned periodically to maintain it in a condition that allows small imperfections like these to be spotted straight away, while equipment must be regularly lubricated, and fastenings re-tightened. This means that shop-floor operators are the main agents in the proactive approach. By formulating their own standards, eliminating sources of contamination, and devising ways to make checks easier to carry out, the operators themselves gradually create a situation in which any problems are immediately obvious – and, through this process, they acquire the ability to identify minor abnormalities before they have a chance to become serious. Problems of this kind cannot be detected readily by managers during occasional shop-floor visits – they can only be found reliably by the workers who operate the equipment day in, day out. What is more, corrective action taken at an early stage rarely requires advanced skills, and, more often than not, can be done by the same person who has discovered the problem.

The reactive approach, on the other hand, requires various types of investigation and analysis, and careful assessment of the results of the proactive approach is an important part of it. This process should therefore be led by managers, who should analyse any accidents that have occurred and periodically patrol the workplace to assess the safety situation.

2.6 Building a Companywide Safety Management Structure (see Figure 11.6)

A companywide safety management structure must have the following functions:

  • Creating statutory systems: appointing health and safety committee, health and safety officers, etc.
  • Deciding and approving safety-related issues: safety decisions should not be left up to individuals – they must be made on an official company basis and communicated to everyone.
  • Assessing safety: safety conditions in the workplace must be evaluated by managers and shop-floor operators together. One way of doing this is to carry out regular safety patrols. The plant’s track record on safety should be compiled in a monthly safety report, so that the safety situation can be kept under continuous review.

2.7 Safety Activities Combining Management and the Shop Floor

As explained above, creating a safe workplace requires joint action by managers and operators. In practice, however, this type of coordination is often lacking. There are various reasons for this. To begin with, both parties tend to have particular strengths and weaknesses, and the company may also have problems rooted in its culture and philosophy that hinder a cooperative approach. Employees tend to see such problems as impossible, or at best, extremely time-consuming, to resolve. However, the company must get each side to understand and accept the other side’s flaws, so that it can then go about finding the best way to promote its safety program. The first point to consider is the thinking underlying the assignment of safety responsibilities to managers and  operators. Figure 11.7 gives an overview of the key safety activities and the group they should be assigned to. If anything, the reactive approach tends to be carried out by managers, while the proactive approach is the domain of shop-floor workers. Both approaches contain some common key elements, such as workplace surveys, training and development, and, of course, mutual understanding. All the necessary safety initiatives cannot be completed at the drop of a hat – building a safe workplace takes time. And each branch of activity is related to others, so it cannot just be developed in isolation. Finally, if we take things to their logical conclusion, we can see that the potential for accidents exists whenever there is work to be done, and if there were no work, there would be no safety problems. Another key perspective is thus to look at every task to see what makes it necessary, and try to improve safety by eliminating it.

Chapter 11. Safety, Health and Environment. Part 2

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