Aggregates Manager Pull-out Guide: Keep a Clean House
Knoop says the key to ensuring a safe work environment is to conduct quality workplace examinations, which MSHA requires to take place during each shift. “Having employees trained in what to look for and how to go about correcting unsafe conditions or acts is fundamental in ensuring that the house is kept clean,” he adds.
Keeping a clean house in your operation, as the title might imply, is “nice,” says Joe Casper, NSSGA vice president of safety services. “But it has a dual set of meanings. Yes, it is important to keep your site neat and clean, because it affects how your customers and neighbors perceive your operation. But it also is extremely important for safety,” he says.
To Casper, housekeeping issues can lead to a number of injuries and near misses. In order to effectively address the safety aspect of housekeeping, it is important to “get under the hood” of what is going on behind the cause of housekeeping concerns, to ensure that standards are truly being met. In addition, operations should work to create processes for analyzing near misses, as well as conduct audits of the practices or mistakes that led to the near miss. All of these endeavors work toward an ultimate goal of operating under a culture of safety.
Casper says housekeeping telegraphs an obligation to employees to think for themselves. “This includes thinking about exceeding the standards and taking care of the little things,” he says.
He offers a parallel between housekeeping at aggregate operations and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s crime-fighting efforts. “When Giuliani was elected mayor of New York City, he said he would go after crime by first attacking the little crimes — for example, the ‘squeegee’ people,” Casper says. “His theory was that by going after the little crimes, the big crimes would follow. It seems counterintuitive, but the data showed he was right.”
The same holds true when making an effort to address the “minor” aggregates housekeeping issues, says Casper. “If you take care to address the smaller things, the larger things will follow. And that will lead to better compliance overall with MSHA standards and a safer overall operation,” he explains.
“Housekeeping, to the outside observer — whether he or she is a customer or an MSHA inspector — is a good indicator of where a company is in respect to safety,” says Mark Rock, vice president risk management for CalPortland Co.
That said, CalPortland works hard to tie housekeeping in with its extensive safety regimen, which has made some groundbreaking progress with MSHA.
According to Rock, CalPortland approached and formed a partnership with the Western District of MSHA in 2006, with a goal of creating better understanding between the two entities. “MSHA came up with criteria that it wanted in our agreement, and we were able to come up with our own agreement criteria,” Rock explains. “There was give and take, and, in October 2006, we had a formal, structured agreement.”
With the agreement in place, Rock says, MSHA holds CalPortland to a higher standard than usual, but MSHA also is part of the solution to reaching that standard. “We wanted to be able to meet on issues and collectively solve them,” he says.
Since that time, the increased rapport with MSHA has been nothing short of incredible, Rock says. Inspectors know they will be treated with respect and will get cooperation from personnel at CalPortland sites. And in return, they are a great resource for best practices. “We can pick up the phone and call them. It’s an incredible benefit,” he adds.
The partnership does not mean CalPortland doesn’t receive citations, and it doesn’t mean the company won’t contest them, if necessary. “But without this partnership, I don’t think we could be as good as we are in respect to employee safety,” Rock notes.
MORE FROM Articles
SUBSCRIBE & FOLLOW
- Former gravel quarry-turned-landfill transforms into nature reserve523 Views
- North Carolina grants Martin Marietta water quality certification for limestone quarry259 Views
- Vulcan-blocking bill dies in Alabama legislature251 Views
- Road restrictions may stop quarry construction in Kentucky221 Views
- Two suspects charged with arson in Jack’s Mountain Quarry case in Virginia128 Views