The Brick Industry Association has upgraded its commitment to employee health and safety over the past two years, and staged its inaugural “employee health and safety” contest for member companies earlier this year. With entries reviewed by a panel of judges including Dave Johnson, editor of Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, winners’ trophies were awarded to three organizations.

Behavior-based success

A behavior-based safety process deployed by Roswell, Georgia-based Boral Bricks was submitted by Mary Ann Keon, director of environment, health and safety. The process involves floor-level employees trained to identify behaviors most likely to cause incidents or accidents. Employees provide feedback to peers through the observation process; data on safe and at-risk behaviors is compiled and evaluated; and barriers to working safely are removed through action planning.

Each location where this process is used has seen a reduction in accident rates. One location has seen a 50-percent drop. Anecdotal evidence also points to the process working: not only has employee morale improved, but plant managers acknowledge operations are easier to manage because employees feel more empowered. This process is being implemented in five plants, and is scheduled to roll-out to the rest of the company within two years.

Customized training

Ft. Worth, Texas-based Acme Brick Company won for innovative safety & health compliance and training manuals. Submitted by Safety Manager Tom Brown, Acme’s manual provides important guidelines for complying with pertinent federal, state and local regulations. Customized guidance is given for site-specific management practices aiming to ultimately rid facilities of any recognizable safety and health hazards. Employee communication, coaching, training, human behavior, and recognition of health hazards are among topics covered.

Acme Brick recognizes employee safety and health is a shared responsibility. Senior management is engaged with the program, and the company also looks to each employee to take responsibility for his or her own safety consciousness.

Acme Brick goes beyond textbook training to instruct employees on safety and health issues. The company holds an annual kiln safety month, a monthly silica emphasis day, and a bi-annual safety day dedicated to awareness through games, contests, and a luncheon.

Since implementing these programs, injuries have decreased 73 percent. One Acme Brick plant has gone more than 30 years without a lost-time accident; several other facilities have gone more than five years without such an accident.

A third winner was Charlotte, North Carolina-based Hanson Brick Company for its safety and health compliance program, submitted by Rick Sink, director of safety, health and environment. Hanson Brick has seen a 50-percent drop in its rate of lost-time cases.

This far-reaching program is anchored by an 800-page safety advisory covering issues in both mining and manufacturing areas of Hanson Brick’s business. Divided into 48 sections, the manual provides managers at all levels with precise and easy-to-understand safety and health policy and best practices information.

The advisory is complemented by training plans and other materials. Employee safety and health handbooks dispense site-specific safety information. Handbooks are available to all new hires in three different languages.

This multi-tiered program is bolstered by an intensive management commitment. Divisional safety and health managers provide corporate oversight. Regional managers provide multi-faceted support, including regular training for supervisors and employees that aims to reduce unsafe actions. Managers perform routine site audits assisted by the local plant manager, front-line supervisors and/or local safety committees.