OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health

ArceloMittal: OSH Implementation Done Right

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Photo 1With its main goal to become the safest company in the steel industry, ArcelorMittal Steel is one of the biggest steel companies in the world with over 320,000 employees in more than 60 countries. They are dedicated to making OSH a priority in their business as they aim to improve working conditions, reduce accident rates and execute scheduled programs of renovation and investment that will aid in enhancing OSH. The company is under constant supervision by an OSH Board consisting of trade union representatives and social labour inspectors from all branches. Unlike many other companies, each steel plant is equipped with its own OSH service managed by the main OSH specialist. The main duty of each employee is to comply with the health and safety regulations implemented by the OSH Board.

Statistical analysis has revealed a decrease in the number of work accidents at the ArcelorMittal steel plant with only minor accidents being involved. Therefore, it is safe to say that this company has achieved its aim by implementing OSH regulations and lowering its number of work related accidents.

Elements of ArceloMittal’s Safety Policy

At Arcelormittal there are four key areas that ensure that OSH is being implemented in the company. These include health and safety, human rights, ethics, and environmental stewardship.

Firstly, in order for proper health and safety, ArcelorMittal must first identify, evaluate and eliminate health and safety risks. This means distinguishing the potential hazards that can occur, evaluating who might be harmed and maturing mitigating actions and regularly receiving assessments made. In addition to this, giving effective training is another measure used to ensure good health which entails providing clear instructions and adequate information for proper training of their employees. Effective training also means educating workers in terms of hazards and risks that they may face and how to follow emergency protocols. Investigating all incidents and near hits prevents future recurrences as this basically means learning from previous mistakes.  Moreover, ArcelorMittal also establishes an effective process for preventing injuries and work related sicknesses which involve building on health and safety risk assessment and health and safety management systems. An example includes providing workers with proper work equipment, and also by carrying out annual employee health checkups.

Secondly, Human right is another key way in which ArcelorMittal implements OSH. This involves promoting freedom of association which entails respecting the rights of employees to organize groups or trade unions to ensure their rights. It also entails eliminating unlawful discrimination in the workplace by expressing equality among the workforce regardless of age, sex, race, gender, religion or disabilities. Furthermore, human rights involve eradicating harassment and violence by ensuring that workers do not encounter and engage in verbal and physical abuse or any kind of behavior that contributes to an uncomfortable workplace. In so doing they have dealt with the violence factor of Biological hazards which long remains as a problem in the modern workplace.

Thirdly ethics is another key measure used to implement OSH. This involves ensuring clear governance and monitoring of internal controls by means of eliminating corruption and addressing potential conflict. Ethics also entails providing effective training. Additionally, demonstrating accountability is another element under ethics which includes having active leadership which encourages ethical practices.

Finally, environmental stewardship is the fourth element used by ArcelorMittal to implement OSH. This is achieved by reducing CO2 emissions as far as possible by eight percent (8%). This will be met by a combination of process improvements and actions to increase energy efficiency and make efficient use of our natural resources, energy and land.

Have They Truly Implemented Occupational Safety and Health?

An example of these OSH regulations in action can be witnessed in the image below where we are introduced to an employee of the ArcelorMittal Steel plant seemingly welding a piece of steel.

AcelorMittal-089-213

                                                                                      Photo 2

Based on the above image, it is evident that ArcelorMittal values the safety and health of their employees. They have implemented some of the best OSH standards and practices for their employees to avert risk as much as possible.

In the picture, the welder is seen wearing a welder’s jacket. This is the first line of defense for his torso against the welding sparks. ArcelorMittal are within the guidelines stipulated in the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago as amended in 2006 since they are providing their employee with the necessary protective gear that he needs to be safe on the job. The bright colour of the jacket allows him to be highly visible in the industrial worksite to other workers, a very important thing in the realm of safety in any industry. By wearing the jacket, which has a collar that shields his neck, his torso is very well protected from the hazardous burns of sparks which can pitch in his direction and land on his skin from the welding process. If he was not wearing the jacket, he would have put himself in the way of potentially moderate burns around his neck and his forearms due to working at such close proximity.

The welder is also wearing welding gloves which extend midway up his forearms. This is his second line of defense against the sparks emitted during welding. In this welding scenario, the likelihood of the torch contacting the welder’s forearm is very likely. It also presents severe danger to his safety. If the torch accidentally makes contact with the gloves, the gloves will protect his hands, wrists and forearms from third degree burns. Welding in itself presents a fire hazard in that if the torch were to make contact with the wrong material, it can catch on fire. Just imagine what a professional grade welding torch such as the one pictured can do to your skin. It’s not a very nice thought is it? His use of gloves is a perfect implementation of Personal Protection Equipment. Props to ArcelorMittal for caring about their employee!

Let’s not forget that certain types of welding also pose an electrical hazard since various types of welding requires the use of an electrical arc. The gloves further protect him from electrocution by electrode in the event that the electrode ever contacts his gloves while using an arc welder. Also, welding presents a secondary shock electrical hazard and by wearing gloves, the welder is properly well insulated and has isolated the risk of experiencing a secondary shock which can be life threatening with as little as twenty volts.

Not to mention that if he should touch a metal structure immediately after welding, he would not risk burning his skin on his hands which is another benefit of having the heat resistant, welding gloves.

Sadly, even the greatest attempts to implement OSH correctly are flawed. The welder’s face is uncovered and this screams unsafe. As noted above, sparks pitch everywhere from welding. Should a spark land on his face, not only will it burn his skin but it can result in itching and long term inflammation. A lot of new welders often complain about redness on their skin or the burning sensation on their faces but they never ask themselves, “what can I do to prevent this?” As stylish as the photo is, we can see the welder was given a pair of very trendy welding glasses but these only protected his eyes leaving his face and ears wide open for sparks. The welder should have been given a full face welding mask to completely avert any risk of sparks flying into his face and ears. Further, a glimpse of his hair is caught in the photo. Based on a document by the American Welding Society(2014), welders should wear a fire-resistant cap to protect their head and hair from the radiation and sparks which result from welding. With a few pieces of equipment, ArceloMittal can effectively and quite simply mitigate and remove this risk, thereby lowering their future accident count.

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Example of a 3M SpeedGlas Welding Helmet. It has auto darkening functionality and is a full face mask.

Another drawback is the posture of the welder. If his job requires him to stand all day long on his feet and maintain such a posture, he will suffer with major ergonomic problems later in his life. Ergonomic hazards occur in many forms and this is no exception. Since the welder’s body is bent over his workstation, he is at risk for lower back pain and muscle stiffening from long hours. He can also suffer from arthralgia leading to long term discomfort both during work and after work.

Based on the image illustrated above, we can see that ArceloMittal makes a great effort to fulfill and achieve one of its major objectives to be one of the safest companies in its industry. We have seen how much they value Occupational Health and Safety with regards to providing workers with proper Personal Protection Equipment in situations where the risk cannot be averted entirely and we must commend them for doing so. However, we also assessed where there were short comings with their practices and with a few simple remedies, ArceloMittal can totally achieve its objective of corresponding with Occupational Safety and Health in all its totality.

Sources:

Secondary Shock Information: http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us/support/welding-solutions/Pages/Five-potential-welding-safety-hazards.aspx

Safety & Health Fact Sheet #33: http://www.aws.org/library/doclib/fs33-201404.pdf

Arcelomittal Case Study: https://www.google.tt/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CBsQFjAAahUKEwjIjcOd6c_IAhUJKx4KHU9NB9I&url=https%3A%2F%2Fosha.europa.eu%2Fdata%2Fcase-studies%2Fbecause-we-are-not-as-strong-as-our-products%2Farcelormittal.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHw9ezUaprNnvVArwORy_7ocMvuHA

Photo 1: http://cdn9.wn.com/ph/img/2f/d0/512777d04e1fc449eae6886be047-grande.jpg

Photo 2: http://corporate.arcelormittal.com/~/media/Images/A/ArcelorMittal/Images/storyhub/contentbanner/AcelorMittal-089-213.jpg?h=214&la=en&w=785

Photo 3: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41bP7KuToNL._SL.jpg

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2 thoughts on “ArceloMittal: OSH Implementation Done Right

  1. This article would become stronger if it outlined more substantial ways in which the company has structured its OSH management system to boost safe acts and enhance safe conditions. While mention is made of improved safety performance, actual statistics have not been shared to give evidence of the claim. Also, what kind of OSH metrics are used? What safe systems of work?

    The absence of a face mask for the welder was another big concern, as was the statement that new welders do not ask how they can prevent a burning sensation on their face. Did someone at the company actually say that about new welders? It seems highly improbable since, if my face was getting singed, I would definitely be trying to figure out ways to protect myself, and in a hurry!

    Like

  2. This post offered some good insights for someone like me who is not well versed in occupational safety and health matters. The title caught my eye as I anticipated some exposure to best practice, and indeed, the analysis made me aware of areas that I had never thought about in relation to OSH like human rights and ethics. This company seems committed – at least on paper – to the highest level of health and safety procedures and I liked the idea of an OSH specialist at each plant.

    The post was generally easy to follow, which is good as this was my first introduction to this company (the spelling of the name differed throughout the post) but I didn’t realize there was a Trinidad-based operation until midway through. Stating that a bit higher would add greater context.

    It would have been great if you could have viewed the local operations as stock pictures don’t always paint a true picture of practice; however, I agree with the flaws and hazards which were identified and the changes that need to be made to address them. Hopefully, that is not what obtains daily at the company!

    Having read this post, I will definitely have to expand my view of what OSH entails!

    Good read….

    Like

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