PN can be resource for safety issues I am an environmental compliance manager with some responsibility for safety and health issues at our facilities. Normally, I would scan your publication for recycling ideas and general industry news. But this issue actually had articles regarding workplace safety — a rare occurrence!
The April 10, Page 1 article "OSHA targets plants with high injury rates" quotes Sentinel Polyolefins LLC Chief Financial Officer Michael Rehwinkel as stating, "What it came down to — [Sentinel] didn't have the resources to understand the source of the injuries."
Yes, we in environmental health and safety have plenty of trade publications covering EH&S — however, those are all very general in nature. Plastics compounders have historically been little autonomous enterprises, trying to maintain business confidentiality in an atmosphere of cutthroat competition.
Processing plants may be scattered all over the world, but we all work with similar types of machinery, raw materials, health, safety and environmental issues. If a processor in Kalamazoo comes up with a better safety program, perhaps it should be shared. Certainly sharing ways of reducing injuries or protecting the environment couldn't hurt a company's competitive position.
Allow me to suggest that industry publications such as yours have a tremendous opportunity to disseminate tons of health and safety information specific to and therefore extremely valuable to the plastics processing industry. Your publication could become one of those needed "resources" of which Mr. Rehwinkel spoke. Give it a thought. Better yet, give it a try!
Dona J. Bergman
Let's revisit stats on workplace safety
I read with interest your piece on workplace safety in the plastics industry and how OSHA has created a list of 13,000 workplaces to target for "wall-to-wall" inspections. Some of my friends' companies are on that list. Fortunately we are not.
I think it would be interesting to go below what OSHA has presented here to some more meaningful statistics about frequency. The number of lost work days really measures only severity. One long-loss-time incident can distort a small operation's numbers and get it on the "list."
To be fair, one also has to look at the frequency of accidents to judge the safety performance of a plant, a company or an industry.
Since OSHA collects all this data regarding frequency, I encourage you to go back to them and get comparisons between plastics and all manufacturers, for lost-time frequency and OSHA-recordable frequencies, and put those comparisons in a future issue. That will tell us if we have a problem and how we're tracking over time.
I also think that this would be a great statistic to put in your annual industry ranking, along with the financial and sales numbers.
HPG International Inc.