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Safety award finalists
Congratulations to all 2019 Safety Innovation Award recipients!

Francis Manufacturing Company (Russia) – Hapman Sand Conveyance System

FIRST PLACE

Background
Francis Manufacturing Company is a family-owned aluminum sand foundry that produces castings weighing fractions of an ounce to several hundred pounds. 

Description
The sand molding process required approximately 20 workers to shovel sand from floor level into the molding machines. This could require workers to shovel more than 20,000 pounds of sand per nine-hour shift, resulting in significant ergonomic risks for back and upper extremity injuries. Francis Manufacturing Company worked with representatives from Hapman to design a specialized material handling solution, a hopper-conveyor system. Workers now fill the hopper with a skid steer loader, eliminating the shoveling. The conveyor automatically dispenses sand into molds, further reducing upper extremity ergonomic risks.

Results
Since installing the first unit in April 2015, the company has not experienced a musculoskeletal injury in the molding area. Automating the molder’s sand handling has resulted in reduced absenteeism and increased production. Workers have reported increased energy at the end of shifts and have fewer complaints of back and shoulder pain.

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TERYDON Inc. (Navarre) – Touch-Screen Tablet Wireless Control (a.k.a. “Lunch Box”)

SECOND PLACE 

Background
TERYDON Inc. is primarily focused on designing and manufacturing high-pressure water jet systems, tooling and accessories. 

Description
High-pressure water jet cleaning exposes workers to serious laceration hazards from direct contact with the water jet and chemical hazards associated with the material they are cleaning. Exposure to slips, trips and falls, excessive noise, and ergonomic stresses are also common when workers are positioning jetting lances, hoses and cables. TERYDON designed and built a tablet-based controller that allows the operator to control the water jet via a Bluetooth-connected device. This removes operators from the point of water jet operation, effectively eliminating their exposure to slip/trip/fall, laceration, chemical, noise and ergonomic hazards associated with manual manipulation of the hoses and cables.

Results
Since introducing the innovation in 2013, Lunch Box users have experienced no water jet-related injuries due to chemical contact, water jet lacerations or repetitive motion injuries. Users also report a significant increase in productivity due to the Lunch Box’s ability to simultaneously control multiple water jet lances. It has also eliminated the need for frequent breaks associated with manual water jetting. 

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J&R Farms (Mount Vernon) – Grain Engulfment Prevention/Retrieval System

THIRD PLACE

Background
J&R Farms is a multi-location grain cooperative with day-to-day operations focusing on storing, drying and handling grain.  

Description
During unloading, the grain flows downward from the top center of the bin, creating a “funnel” effect, drawing material and objects down to the conveyor where an unloading auger at the bottom of the bin transports the grain outside. Therefore, workers need fall and engulfment protection when accessing grain bins for maintenance or housekeeping.

J&R Farms installed a grain engulfment prevention/retrieval system inside the bins that provides a high anchor point at the bin peak and an anchor point/davit arm mounting sleeve outside the roof access manway. A lifeline and belay line protect workers before entering the bin and while they are inside it. A linear cable fall protection system, across the roof of the control room, provides proper tie-off for workers. J&R Farms also installed tie-off points and temporary anchor slings in several frequently-accessed locations on the outside of the bin as well as a fall protection system under the loadout tank (hopper area). Select entry points also have a bin entry kit consisting of pre-rigged/pre-tied: main line, belay line, haul system, lift bag, two rescue-style padded harnesses and a “Y”-lanyard. Finally, workers can deploy an aluminum davit arm retrieval system to rescue a victim out of a bin and lower them safely to the ground.

Results
Although the davit retrieval arm has not been deployed in a rescue to date, workers frequently use tie-off points during maintenance and housekeeping to provide 100-percent fall protection and peace of mind to workers.

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Yoder Drilling & Geothermal Inc. (Sugarcreek) – Geothermal Grouter Pipe/Loop Reel

HONORABLE MENTION

Background
Yoder Drilling & Geothermal Inc. provides installation of vertical, horizontal and pond loop geothermal applications. 

Description
Prior to the innovation, workers would manually force up to 200 feet of geothermal pipe down the pre-drilled hole. Additionally, they would also push down the grout hose that back-fills the hole once the pipe is in place. This exposed workers to repetitive strain injuries from pushing/pulling tasks, as well as heat/cold stress and slips/trips/falls from slippery drilling spoils. Yoder worked with several manufacturers to build a hydraulically-powered hose reel to eliminate virtually all manual pushing/pulling. The worker now controls the powered reel from a skid steer rather than pushing/pulling the hose. This also removes them from the slippery ground surrounding the borehole. 

Results
Since introducing the innovation in 2016, the company has not experienced any repetitive strain or slip/trip/fall-related injuries. The powered hose reel has increased production and efficiency. Finally, it has allowed Yoder to bid on work it previously deferred because the larger diameter hose a job required could not be manually inserted.