Magazine article Occupational Hazards

National Gypsum: Building Safe Performance

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

National Gypsum: Building Safe Performance

Article excerpt

National Gypsum manufactures gypsum wallboard, interior finishing products for wallboard and cement board. In addition, it operates its own quarries. In total, the company employs 2,700 people in over 40 plants and quarries.

Quite a challenge for safety. However, in 2002, the company's total recordable case incident rate was 2.17, the second best in the company's history. National Gypsum has been recognized for its performance. For example, its Shippington, Pa., plant won the 2002 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence. In addition, the company has won nine awards from the Gypsum Association, including one for irs Harper, Texas, quarry, which has gone 20 consecutive years without a lost workday case.

"C.D. Spangler Jr., our chairman, has made safety his number one priority," explains Wes Harkins, corporate director of Safety and Health. "When speaking with plant managers, he always underscores this point."

It's more than lip service, though. Harkins has been with the company 20 years, and the reason he stays is because he has the opportunity to continually make improvements. "A lot of my peers in other companies are in jobs where they just aren't allowed to make improvements or get anything done related to safety," he notes.

Every company with a commitment to safety has a guiding principal. At National Gypsum, it is: "Safety is not something extra we do. It is the way we do what we do." The culture says, "We will not perform any task in an unsafe manner." For example, the company's JSA/SOP process is directly integrated into its accident investigation and operator training processes.

Another prime example of the integration of safety with other processes is how maintenance is performed. The computer-based preventive maintenance program the company utilizes includes safety inspections, lockout and confined space entry processes that are fully integrated into it. "For instance, when It prints out work orders, it provides details on how to do the work safely," says Harkins. The system identifies maintenance, for example, that can be done while the equipment is running as well as maintenance that needs to be done while the equipment is shut down. When equipment needs to be shut down, there is a note on the work order to remind the maintenance person to lock the machine out. It also identifies the lockout procedure for that equipment.

The program also creates work orders specifically for safety inspections. …

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