PCA Safety Innovation Awards


pca-innovationWe present six projects and programs—from a pool of 35 U.S. and Canadian facilities—that improved safety at cement plants in 2011.

Portland Cement Association’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee looks for examples of how the cement industry is making its plants safer places to work. The goals of the Safety Innovation Awards are:  

  1.  To honor innovative practices, programs, and projects throughout the industry.
  2.  To communicate these ideas to members of the North American cement industry.
  3. To raise the profile and importance of safety programs both inside and outside the industry.

Thirty-five entries were judged by members of the committee, along with a representative of MSHA. Winners in four categories—Quarry, Milling/Grinding, Distriubtion, and General Facility—received a monetary gift towards a “Celebration for Safety.” These awards are co-sponsored by the Portland Cement Association and the Cement Association of Canada.

Ash Grove Cement Company
Durkee, Oregon

Fabricating a holder for the ANFO truck spout created a much safer work environment for employees at Ash Grove Cement’s Durkee, Ore., quarry and plant. The design of the top of the truck was such that the auger sleeve rested on top of the truck, and required an employee to travel up the ladder in full harness gear to the top each time the auger needed to be moved for loading and unloading. The new auger support saddle allows the sleeve to rest on the side of the truck, which facilitates the hose connection without having to go up and down the truck ladder multiple times. The new design allows the spout to remain attached during transport.

Texas Industries Inc.
Midlothian, Texas

Before Texas Industries in Midlothian, Texas, developed a new device to remove the brake rotor and final drive, employees had to use a lifting strap and potentially take an unsafe position around a forklift. Employees fabricated a brake-rotor stand that allows a bolt connection to the final drive. The stand also allows easier installation of new parts such as the rotor, seal, braces, and bearings. Since the final drive no longer has to be placed on the ground, there is no cleanup, and turnaround time is decreased, therefore equipment downtime also is reduced.

Argos Cement, Roberta Plant
Calera, Alabama

A safer method to inspect confined spaces was the motivating factor for employees at the Argos Cement Roberta Plant in Calera, Alabama. Looking into a confined space through a port allows only for a limited view. By attaching a camera to a telescoping pole, there is greater visual access to more areas that are classified as confined spaces. By rotating the camera, most areas inside confined space vessels can be viewed easily using this device, and by archiving the information, employees can visually compare areas over the course of time. This helps with planning refractory and other structural changes, and can lead to more certainty about work that needs to be accomplished inside confined spaces.

Ash Grove Cement Company
Inkom, Idaho

The Ash Grove Cement Company facility in Inkom, Idaho, constructed a device for testing continuity, resistance, and polarity of electrical cords. Multiple testing devices are necessary for these electrical tests, and they are cumbersome to use with electrical cords since the user has to handle the devices and cords simultaneously. The portable cord tester eliminates the awkwardness by having all the testing equipment inside a single box, and allowing all three electrical tests with the press of a button. An indicator light shows the user whether continuity, resistance, and polarity are acceptable.

National Cement Company
Lebec, California

Employees at National Cement’s plant in Lebec, Calif., came up with a safe procedure to load sand in the gravel bed filter. The old system required eight workers, a crane operator and a signal person working four days. It created access restrictions (crane radius) and heavy lifting. These constraints worstened in bad weather. The new system uses a concrete pump to pump sand in all compartments. This cut the number of workers in half and reduced the time to one day. It also eliminated the heavy lifting, allowed greater access around the area while working, and made the process weatherproof.

Salt River Materials Group
Clarkdale, Arizona

The need to develop a safer method to reconnect tarps to customer trucks motivated employees to design a new system at the Salt River Materials Group plant in Clarkdale, Arizona. The goal of the project was to prevent customer truck drivers arriving at the facility from climbing onto the top of the flatbed trailer. The remote control system now allows drivers to reposition the tarp from ground level, thereby removing a climbing and falling hazard for the customer truck driver. Although drivers were initially skeptical about the efficiency of the newly designed process, they now appreciate that they can get back on the road quicker than before.

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