As you may know, I am heavily involved in and a big advocate of lean manufacturing. It results in more parts being made with less waste and leads to a clean, safe workplace. Many facilities focus on the former while ignoring the latter. Even at facilities that concentrate on having a clean workplace, too many do not sufficiently address the safety aspect.
A lot of shops just concentrate on the obvious hazards found in a manufacturing environment. Eliminating tripping hazards comes to mind. But what about the less obvious threats to worker safety? How do you take those elements into account?
To address this concern, our shop uses unsafe acts or conditions tickets (UACTs). The form is specific to our needs. The internet has many samples; you can take a little from various samples until you ultimately fashion a ticket that suits your needs.
UACTs help identify and deal with potential safety issues before they become actual safety hazards. UACTs are also used to identify shop equipment or areas that need attention before they become safety concerns. Even associates who perform unsafe acts can have a UACT written about them.
We instituted UACTs early last year at our facility. Since then, almost 300 UACTs have been written, with more than 250 already corrected. Here are a few samples that were written up, some of which you might not even associate right away with safety:
- One UACT suggested installing light-blocking window film. We have windows along the tops of our walls. During parts of the day when the sun is shining, our forklift operators and associates can be temporarily blinded. This can cause them to walk into something in the aisles or drive a forklift into something, injuring themselves.
- Another UACT recommended purchasing a wax pot for coating our tools. Old technology for sure, but in the old days wax was used to protect the cutting edges from being nicked. We wax the edges to prevent our associates from cutting themselves when they grab the tools.
- After the wax pot was installed, a UACT was turned in for a timer for the pot. This suggestion was intended to prevent a fire if the last person using the pot does not turn it off.
These are just a few of the many UACTs that have been submitted in the past year. Other, more obvious ones focused on machine leaks, cracked viewing windows on CNC machines and items in marked aisles. We even had one for the door leading from the office to the shop. The door is a solid one without a viewing window. It seems people have come flying out of the office as plant associates walked by. Oops!
My company is dedicated to employee safety. Every month, we place an informal quota on UACTs that we in management would like to see. The quota is based on working days per month. Whenever we have group meetings, we encourage all employees to write UACTs. We don’t enforce the quota, but we do encourage participation. Our associates do not get a monetary incentive to write UACTs, but they get satisfaction in making their workplace safer.
Over the past 2 years, we have substantially reduced the lost-time-accident rate at our facility. This improvement translates to lower costs in the form of lower insurance premiums. In turn, these lower costs help our lean initiative.
Related Glossary Terms
- computer numerical control ( CNC)
computer numerical control ( CNC)
Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.
- lean manufacturing
Companywide culture of continuous improvement, waste reduction and minimal inventory as practiced by individuals in every aspect of the business.