As soon as the Auditor is picked up at the airport by the manufacturer the HSE aspect of the audit commences….. Reception area….Meeting room… PPE….…Employees ….The Factory…… Safety performance,…Loss Time Accidents (LTA’s) ….Fire & Emergency procedures.
HSE starts with the car journey to the valve manufacturer
Some end users have been advised by their own HSE Department not to travel in taxis or manufacturer’s company cars without the provision of seat belts. In some instances seat belts are available but are inaccessible due to rugs on the seats. Often the driver uses his phone when driving.
I also in some countries refuse to sit in the car’s front seat. The driver clearly does not adhere to speed limits…I wonder which countries they could be?
Arriving at the manufacturer
As an auditor your eyes are continuously looking around. Are the buildings poorly maintained or are they new and inviting? As you walk past open style offices what’s the first impression? Are they tidy? You have been in the building now for 10 minutes. Can safety notices be seen? Does the manufacturer give safety instructions about the plant? Where is the Muster point? What personnel protection equipment is being worn by the workers and what is being provided to visitors? E.g Hard hats, safety glasses, ear protection, safety shoes? All end users expect safety for workers and for themselves as visitors. Instructions should be given as to where visitors can walk and where they cannot? Is there any fire evacuation practice scheduled during the visit? In addition some end users prefer a “Safety moment” sharing an aspect on safety for example, on machining safety practices. So after the car journey and short time with the manufacturer the auditor begins to formulate an image on HSE.
The HSE performance statement within the Mission Statements can be omitted. End users are looking more and more to those Companies stating HSE within the Company Mission Statement with full implementation.
Does the manufacturer have a Safety Officer, a system to record near misses, accidents, analyse loss time accidents, visits to doctors and have directives to improve HSE. What HSE training is given to the workers? How many days has it been since a loss time accident? HSE data should be readily available to review.
I observe 3 areas:
The manufacturer does have a good HSE policy and implementation with full audit trial and controls…. This is great... Incentives by management are given to the workers not to record incidents or visit doctors as it impacts potential HSE bonuses for the workers. This is despicable… The manufacturer attempts HSE but they are really clueless of its foundation, structure and how to maintain a system… This is frustrating….extensive training is required.
The auditor leaves the meeting room and heads on the factory tour
Ah ..this is when HSE becomes crystal clear. As you walk out of the administration
building is the management wearing suitable PPE?
Too often office personnel seem to think they are exempt from PPE. For example a new employee had been given the HSE training but it had little effect. They wore inappropriate shoes and refused to wear safety glasses as they were uncomfortable. Was it noted that the management did not say anything?
Do they sneak a smoke in when touring? Are walkways between factory buildings clearly identified to separate from the traffic? Can clear speed limits be seen and complied with?
You approach one of the factory buildings. Are clear PPE notices shown as you enter? You enter the building….I normally just stand and resist the “quick paced tour” and watch the operation. Say nothing just observe.
Are PPE being complied with?
- Common omissions are safety glasses. After pointing this out, by the time I reach the second factory all are in compliance wearing sparkling new glasses.
- Hard hats are not worn by foreman…so the workers also do not wear.
- Ear plugs are omitted. In an area > 85db a worker only wore one ear plug as they needed to hear with the other ear!
- PPE for pouring molten metal varies considerably. Workers scars are sometimes seen.
Are there sufficient safety notices displayed to instruct the workers?
- Machinery both large and small … drills, saws, grinders, shearers?
- For machinery are there isolation procedures?
- For small handheld tools is there a safety check system?
Are the walkways clear of components and tripping hazards?
- Does the manufacturer care about tripping hazards? Holes in the walkway, trailing electrical cables, floor mats badly worn?
Fork lift operations?
- Are speed limits adhered to?
- Are seat belts worn?
- Are lifting methods safe?
- Is the fork lift itself well maintained?
- Does the reverse horn work?
Are the ladders safe and regularly checked?
Are safe electrical practices being employed?
- Are the junction boxes closed and certified?
- Is cabling of a good standard with no deterioration?
Lifting equipment and practices.
- Are overhead cranes suitably certified? All should be considered and not just those to comply with local requirements.
- Are lifting slings and chains maintained and correctly used?
The auditor has seen enough
After an exhausting audit the auditor has seen enough and calls it a day. They return to meeting room and the auditor delivers his findings and recommendations on HSE (plus other recommendations on the manufacturing plant). Often HSE is considered good enough with minor comments.
On other occasions the comments are far more serious with fundamental changes in HSE understanding and operation. In these cases the changes will often take some time as awareness and new processes will have to be developed and the workers trained. Finally may I recommend to all manufacturers that you start “A Safety Walkabout”. This consists of a manager and a multi-disciplined team that looks out for and notes HSE aspects that could be improved. You will be amazed what you will find!
Thank you for your continued support. Please contact me if you have any questions or different views. If you wish a specific topic to be covered please do not hesitate to contact me and I will try to accommodate.
Barrie Kirkman, BSc CEng MIMechE, writes a regular column for Valve World, bringing his own personal views from inside the valve business.
Barrie can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org.