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Safety award finalists
Congratulations to all 2018 Safety Innovation Award Recipients!

Navistar – Cab Destructive Weld Tear Down

FIRST PLACE

Background

Navistar is a manufacturer of commercial trucks, buses, defense vehicles and engines. As a part of their operations, truck cabs are torn down and spot welds are validated. This process involves the employee peeling each welded seam with a modified T-bar to expose the spot weld nuggets. Employees had to exert an excessive amount of manual force in a process similar to opening a sardine can. To reduce exertion, Navistar employed a pneumatic nut driver that would provide the force needed to tear apart welds. However, the pneumatic tool can transfer 120 pounds of reaction forces to the employee. These forces can cause employees to compensate with awkward postures that may lead to falls. The employee is required to peel apart up to 2100 spot welds per cab. Workers are exposed to sharp parts, high reaction forces and pinch points from the pneumatic tool. Workers must wear personal protective equipment, including a bump cap, safety glasses, welder helmet and face shield, welder’s coat with Kevlar sleeves, cut resistant gloves, safety shoes and a leather apron. 

Description

To reduce forces on employees during weld tear down, Navistar worked with the machine tool company 3ARM to develop an articulating arm that will hold their pneumatic tool. The manipulating arm is suspended overhead from a gantry crane, and was specifically designed to absorb all reaction forces generated from peeling apart welds. As a result, employees in this task can complete tear down of an entire cab without exerting any force, and feel no soreness after work. When used with a pneumatic lift table, employees are also able to work in less strenuous positions, and tear down can be completed almost entirely from outside of the cab. Even employees who were previously injured doing this task can use the new equipment with relative ease.

Results

1. Reduced the potential of falling, bad postures, and awkward positions due to high reaction forces. 

2. Reduced the potential of abrasions and lacerations caused by sharp parts.

3. Morale and productivity improved. 

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MPW Industrial Services – M1-RV Crawler

SECOND PLACE and PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Background

MPW Industrial Services offers a variety of industrial cleaning, water treatment and facility and environmental services to thousands of clients throughout North America. Cleaning clarifier tanks is a labor-intensive process, exposing technicians to various health and safety hazards. Technicians would enter the tank and use water blast guns to push debris to the center. Hazards include, slip, trip and falls, heat stress, toxic vapors, confined spaces, and extreme exhaustion. Due to these hazards, this process took 12 to 15 people to complete the task over the course of multiple shifts. 

Description

The M1-RV Crawler is a remote-controlled vacuuming system designed by MPW engineers. The M1-RV uses a water blaster and an auger to break large pieces of debris for easy removal. With a built-in video monitor, technicians can easily maneuver the M1-RV up and down ramps or stairs, through potentially dangerous confined spaces. The crawler also has additional attachments for different environments, with new ones constantly being developed to meet the needs of MPW’s customers. The M1-RV has been a resounding success in improving safety at MPW, and since implementation 16 more units have been added to their fleets across North America.

Results

1. The M1-RV eliminates employee exposure from hazards of cleaning the clarifier tanks. 

2. Eliminates the need for technicians to enter confined space areas. 

3. Cleaning time is reduced, which leads to customer savings. 

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Terracon Consultants Inc. – YM3000 Pin Puller

THIRD PLACE

Background

Terracon Consultants Inc. provides solutions to environmental, facilities, geotechnical, and materials engineering challenges. With over 140 offices across the nation, Terracon provides services on thousands of projects each year. Soil density readings are taken for roadbeds and foundations by driving and pulling a 28-inch pin into the ground, leaving a hole in which the density gauge probe is inserted. Workers were required to pull the pin by bending or kneeling on the ground, twisting the flat bar, and pulling the bar to remove the pin from the tight soil. This flat bar puller exposes workers to poor ergonomic postures, strains, and repetitive motion. The kneeling and bending also prevented workers from having good visibility and situational awareness on active construction sites, and reduced their ability to be seen by heavy equipment operators. Technicians on construction sites may take 30-50 readings per day. 

Description

The YankMeister 3000 (YM3000) Pin Puller was developed in house by a Terracon Industrial Hygienist, with input from field technicians. After 3 iterations, Terracon implemented a redesigned T-handle that is adjustable in height and allows employees to remain standing. This reduces the bending and kneeling required by the old method. By placing employees in better positions, technicians can use their leg muscles instead of the back to help lift pins from the ground. Consequently, Terracon consultants can consistently produce vertical pulls that are more precise for meter placement, increasing the quality of data collection. Terracon has distributed 1,100 pin pullers to employees across all their offices. Each employee is assigned their own pin puller that is used on a daily basis.

Results

1. Reduces the potential of back or wrist strains from pin pulling. 

2. After three months of implementation, there have been no back or wrist strain incidents reported by technicians.

3. Reduces fatigue and improving productivity.

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Ramco Electric Motors – Aluminum Die-Casting Automated Biscuit Return

HONORABLE MENTION

Background

Ramco Electric Motors die-casts over 90,000 electric motor cores and rotors each year. A byproduct of the rotor casting is a separate aluminum piece, or biscuit, that is discarded in a bin. This biscuit must be manually dropped back into the 1300-degree liquid aluminum bath. The process requires the worker to pick up the hot biscuits and carefully drop them into the crucible without splashing. Workers must wear personal protective equipment to protect themselves from heat related hazards in order to approach the crucible. This includes heat resistant clothing, gloves, and face protection. Employees are also exposed to ergonomics risk factors such as repetitive bending of the waist from the retrieval of the biscuit. 

Description

Ramco’s production team, engineer, and technicians worked to developed a conveyor system that would deliver biscuits from the machine back to the crucible. The system is controlled through a programmable logic controller (PLC) that precisely times biscuit return with the casting process. A video display placed near the operator station is used to monitor for malfunctions. Additional guards have been placed around the conveyor to contain sporadic splash of liquid aluminum when a biscuit is dropped into the crucible. Employee exposure to hazards is greatly reduced, as they only approach the crucible during maintenance or when adding a fresh ingot.

Results

1. Eliminated the exposures of an individual performing the task of dropping the biscuits in the crucible. 

2. Reduces the potential of burns from the splashing of liquid aluminum.

3. Improved worker morale due to the elimination of the task.