Safe work conditions in the industry

Automation & RoboticsIndustrySouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 2/2012

Good practices in Turkey and Romania

ERDEMIR is an integrated steel mill which produces strip products. The Turkish company employs 7500 workers. There are 22 operational departments with a production site. Steel making characteristically is a heavy industry, comprising many hazards and risks in the workplace.

Among the most common causes of injury and illness in the iron and steel industry are: slips, trips and falls on the same level; falls from height; unguarded machinery; falling objects; working in confined spaces; moving machinery; on-site transport, forklifts and cranes; exposure to controlled and uncontrolled energy sources; inhalable agents (gases, vapours, dusts and fumes); skin contact with chemicals; contact with hot metal; fire and explosion; extreme temperatures; radiation (non-ionizing, ionizing); noise and vibration; electrical burns and electric shock; manual handling and repetitive work; etc.

The management of risks is not a linear process; rather it is the balancing of a number of interwoven elements which interact with each other and which have to be in balance with each other. Where suppliers and/or partners are involved, it is important to gain a shared view of the risks and how they will be managed.

Considering the size of the company, it is very important that these occupational hazards and risks are identified and evaluated in a structured and uniform way. The results obtained by risk assessment are evaluated and analysed to improve work safety. The results are also used in other occupational health and safety processes like tracing health parameters, starting preventive actions, deciding personal protective equipments, etc. Risk assessment cards prepared in Excel or Word formats can mostly not meet the needed requirements.

ERDEMIR aims to manage risk exposure by taking action to keep exposure to an acceptable level, and this in a cost-effective way. In order to do so, risk management at ERDEMIR involves having: up-to-date information about risks; decision-making processes supported by a framework of risk analysis and evaluation; processes in place to monitor risks; the right balance of control in place to deal with those risks.

ERDEMIR developed computer software to enable an effective online risk assessment. The ERDEMIR Risk Assessment Program (ERAS) software was developed by the firm’s own software team. The system enables data analysis and traceability. In addition, the system is not found on a constant base; it was designed to enable permanent adaptations to different environment factors and conditions. Additions and subtractions can be made easily.

ERAS has several parameters, which are hazards, sources of hazards, risks, working areas, risk level, health effects (acute, chronic), personal protective equipments, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), teams of risk assessment, etc. The system can be adjusted according to those parameters. Furthermore, the system is able to take into account new working conditions, technologies and/or equipment, and the requirements of new workers or trainees. New hazards and risks can easily be added or changed.

The assessment of identified risks is done in ERAS by determination of risk levels (risk classification). These risk levels are a multiple of the likelihood (probability of occurrence) and the severity of risks. For both factors (likelihood and severity), there is scale of five degrees. The minimum risk level is thus one; the maximum risk level is 25. Priority preventive actions are taken based on these risk classifications.

Risk assessment at ERDEMIR is done by specific risk assessment teams. Each unit has such a risk assessment team, which consists of five workers from the unit concerned.

The ERAS system enables easy searches and provision of procedures, instructions, required personal protective equipment, training booklets, information on past accidents, former prevention measures, etc. Search function of the ERAS program, has different criteria by what can be searched on in the system.

What was achieved?
Since the introduction of this risk assessment software, it has been much easier to determine risks and risk levels, and to take corrective actions. Moreover, in order to prevent occupational diseases, workers can be swapped between different units for specified periods. Parameters of the program are determined by the experts so that the same definition and terminology is used for every unit. This system can be accessed by all workers at any time. It has also contributed to a reduction in costs incurred for accidents and occupational illnesses.

Success factors: easy sorting and analysis of risk assessment data; adaptability of all parameters in the system; determination of programme parameters by experts so that the same definitions, terminology, and risk rating system are used for risk assessment activities in every unit; ability to ensure effective risk assessment for activities which show a variable character (the production in the operational units continues for 24 hours); easy risk analyses and revisions due to the guidance of the software to the system administrators, assessments with the workers, and traceability of the data; fast identification of hazards/hazard sources, risk concepts and health effects (acute/chronic), and fast analysis of risks; easy risk assessment of chemicals and chemical compounds; quick provision of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of chemicals and chemical compounds; etc.

Source: EU-OSHA
Risk management in Erdemir, Turkey - manufacturer of basic iron and steel and of ferro-alloys