Since the Partnership was implemented in early 2007, AK Steel has hired a new safety and health (S&H) manager out of the Butler Facility (a VPP site). In addition, they hired a new safety engineer to assist the S&H manager which has also resulted in making a positive impact at the facility. The Union Safety Steward was given an additional three union members to assist the safety and health team.
The site has implemented an ergonomic project which involved an evaluation of ergonomic hazards throughout the work site. As a result, the site implemented some creative and effective means of abatement to decrease hazards associated with lifting such as engineering a table for the melt shop that could assist employees with heavy lifts and withstand the unfriendly melt shop environment.
Also, the facility, with the assistance of the OSHA Region 5 Toledo Area Office, is working on a heat stress project that is tentatively going to be jointly presented by AK Steel and OSHA at the next Toledo Safety Day in May 2008. AK Steel has acquired the means to take body core temperatures of employees, thus they are going to perform a study to obtain heat stress data for employees in hot working environments and OSHA will research and provide the technical/safety health data to support the study. AK Steel also has implemented engineering controls in parts of their facility to deal with heat/cold stress which will also be included in the presentation.
Several phone conversations between the S&H manager, the union, and OSHA have occurred since the Partnership began which have focused on resolving and communicating information about specific safety and health-related issues. An example includes the eruption of a furnace in the melt shop which resulted in a minor first aid injury to an employee. If the employee had not been wearing PPE, the results could have been much worse. The plant and safety and health manager contacted OSHA's Region 5 Toledo Area Office and the union safety steward within hours of the incident occurring. They informed them of the incident and the measures they were taking to ensure the employees were even more protected to prevent a similar incident from occurring. All parties involved were very pleased with how the situation was handled by AK Steel as well as how communications increased.
Regularly scheduled Partnership meetings are also typically held the same day as the mandatory management monthly S&H meeting. This provides the partners the opportunity to listen to the concerns and solutions the management team at the facility addresses on a daily basis. These meetings have been very informative and received well, which also helps to strengthen the relationship between AK Steel and OSHA.
The Partnership was implemented to reduce worker injury and illness rates through the development, implementation, and maintenance of a safety and health program that focused on reducing exposures to hazards, increasing employee involvement, and conducting monthly safety audits identify and eliminate employee exposure to hazards. One of the unwritten goals of the Partnership was to develop a better working relationship between AK Steel, the union, and OSHA, and possibly apply for OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) in the future.
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