Companies that believe workplace safety planning should be proactive rather than reactive address the safety of their employees before dangerous incidents occur and beyond only what the law mandates. In the first of a series of blog posts highlighting companies that have taken extra steps to satisfy Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety requirements in their Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), a cooperative program that recognizes employers and employees who proactively prevent worksite injuries and illnesses, here we look at the General Electric Sayre Railcar Repair shop.
Located in north-central Pennsylvania, this GE full-service railcar service shop’s 100+ workers repair and service all types of railroad cars. GE Rail Services was first recognized as a Star worksite under VPP in 2001. VPP Star status recognizes the efforts of managers and employees who have achieved exemplary safety and health management systems.
At the Sayre service shop, a number of safety improvements were made due to the site’s ergonomics team – made up of 18-20 employee team members – which was involved in determining worksite needs in relation to best ergonomic practices. Supported by management, the team has conducted employee comfort surveys to gauge the quantitative risk associated with job tasks.
In addition to performing repairs and/or modifications, the many activities at the Sayre shop include removing residual commodity and removing paint and interior lining (abrasive blasting).
OSHA believes that by using good work practices, the risk of exposure to air contaminants and other safety/health risks associated with abrasive blasting can be minimized. Such practices include using industrial vacuum systems equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters or wet methods when removing accumulated dust. Companies looking to participate in the VPP program while facing dust issues related to abrasive blasting should consider a DEMARCO Industrial Vacuum system.