This season Southeastern member gins are facing a variety of challenges. Some gins are nearly done, some just feel like they’re getting started. The fact is most have been running some time and EVERYONE from the owner to the guy sweeping the floors are getting fatigued. This is when mistakes happen. This is when complacency creeps in and we forget things. It is the very time we CAN’T forget things.
Earlier this month we sent out an safety alert detailing a couple serious accidents in the region. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we were made aware of a fatality in a gin in the region but details are not clear yet. If we are able to get details, we will send them out as an Alert to our member gins. As Barry and I were discussing this accident, we started adding up some of the things (close calls and serious accidents) we knew about already this year and it seems worse than we’ve had in a number of years. We just don’t know why.
Rather than get into a lot of detail about the accidents at this point, we feel there is a need to really focus on safety with the gin employees. We need to get back to the fundamentals of safety and while they are not sexy and down right boring, they need to be emphasized with your hands. Communication barriers need to be eliminated and you need to get the message through. Take time to go over the basics… Know your job, Know what to do and especially what NOT to do. Understand what lockout tagout means. Make sure your guards are in place and designed for easy use so they go back on when they are taken off. Have periodic safety meetings (weekly would be good).
Every year, we see accidents where the employee did something he wasn’t trained to do and got hurt. They went in a machine without being told to, they reached for something beyond a guard or barrier, they started machines up without counting heads, they didn’t set a parking brake, they didn’t check to make sure there wasn’t a module truck coming before crossing the yard. All simple things but things that have severely injured or killed employees in the past year or two.
This year we know of one fatality, one severe amputation, and a few accidents that could/should have been fatal or much more serious than they were. We have been made aware of 4 or 5 serious module truck accidents that were either fatal to the vehicle that collided with the truck or seriously injured the module truck driver. This is significantly worse than “normal”.
Please take some time to review safety procedures. Fill in any holes you might have in your program and make SURE your guys (and gals) know why we tell them these things. Safety may get in the way of speed sometimes but speed can’t get in the way of safety without severe consequences.
Call me or Barry if you have any questions or need additional safety materials or help knowing how to conduct a safety meeting etc.