The last 10 years have seen more than 50,000 American workers killed on the job and more than 40 million American workers lose time to work-related injury or illness.
But not one of those workers has come from L.B. Foster’s steel pipe coating facility in Birmingham, AL.
Photos: LB Foster
The plant applies FBE, ARO
and internal linings on pipes
up to 24 inches in diameter
and 100 feet long.
The plant has logged more than one million worker hours without a Lost Time Accident. No work-related injury or illness has prevented employees from fulfilling scheduled work shifts since March 26, 2001, the company reports.
The ISO 9001:2008-registered L.B. Foster Tubular Products coating plant employs about 60 workers and is located on the site of American Steel Pipe’s (ASP) Alabama operations.
The facility applies fusion bond epoxy (FBE) corrosion protection, abrasion-resistant overcoating (ARO), and internal linings on 10.75-inch to 24-inch diameter steel line pipe up to 100 feet long.
"Our Birmingham team has achieved an incredible accomplishment by maintaining 10 successful years of proactive safety in their work environment," said Merry Brumbaugh, Vice President, L.B. Foster Tubular Products.
L.B. Foster Tubular is a division of Pittsburgh-based L.B. Foster Company, a leading manufacturer, fabricator and distributor of products and services for the rail, construction, energy and utility markets.
The plant’s exceptional safety record reflects intense safety awareness encouraged by DuPont's Safety Training Observation Program and promoted with ongoing corporate-wide safety initiatives, the company says.
Foster Coated Products’
Birmingham facility is
located on the site of
American Steel Pipe’s
(ASP) Alabama operations.
"There is a total commitment to safety by team members and a real belief that all accidents are preventable," noted Tim Chiasson, General Manager of Plant Operations.
‘Acceptable for People to Get Hurt’
That wasn’t always the case, said Ben McClellan, L.B. Foster Company Environmental Health and Safety Director
A serious accident in 2001, which McClellan declined to discuss, proved to be an “eye opener” for the entire company, McClellan said in an interview Tuesday (March 1).
“The culture was that as a manufacturing facility, it was kind of acceptable for people to get hurt,” he said.
At the time, “the safety training consisted of watching a video once a month and everyone signed off on it,” he said. “We were meeting regulatory requirements, but that didn’t do anything.”
Not until constant employee feedback—even on minor incidents and near misses—was encouraged day after day, month after month, at the plant level did the culture start to change, said McClellan. Now, even a “bad near miss” can shut down production until the cause is determined and corrected.
The plant holds daily safety meetings and weekly toolbox meetings, and all of L.B. Foster’s facilities participate in a monthly phone meeting at the corporate level where every incident and near miss are reviewed, McClellan said.
A company-wide incident report database helps alert managers of different facilities to risks and patterns of behavior and incidents.
‘Hurry Up, Hurry Up’
“Employees see that we do care and we want them to work safe,” he said. “In most manufacturing environments, it’s just ‘hurry up, hurry up, get the product out the door.’ They’re all focused on the same goal. It’s hard to change that culture. That’s where we were.”
Safety does not require “a huge financial investment,” but the time commitment must be unrelenting, McClellan said. “It’s about changing cultures and beliefs.”
“I wish we could say it’s easy and it’s quick, but it’s not,” he said.
Still, “once we had the employees on board, it really made a difference.”