Hazardous Energy Control Training

 January Health & Safety Report – January 16th 2019


Team Leader Hazardous Energy Control Training

Team Leader Hazardous Energy Control Training is a resolution for an Employee Safety Concern brought to the JHSC in Sept. 2016 when a new hire Back-up T/L found himself inside a robot enclosure through the Euchner gate, adjusting a reject cart with the power on believing this was an acceptable practice. He was concerned the training he received through new hire orientation and the monthly safety talks did not adequately prepare him in the T/L role for what is required of Hazardous Energy Control. To close this concern, this training package was developed by the Worker Reps on the JHSC based on existing training, monthly safety talks and member feedback and we also agreed to deliver it. The goal is to deliver comprehensive training on all aspects of energy control as it relates to Production Team Leaders, to meet the needs of our members and help ensure their safety. The goal for this training is for Production T/Ls and Back-up T/Ls to have a similar level of awareness and competence for Hazardous Energy Control as our Skilled Trades, especially for our newer members who don’t have the years of exposure to these procedures that some of our seasoned members do. Seasoned members can also benefit from this training as it can be a reminder for some procedures that may have been forgotten, or can maybe answer some questions you may have. Having a mix of new and experienced T/Ls together in the same class is a valuable opportunity to share experiences through discussion.

As your Worker Reps on the JHSC, it is our job to investigate critical injuries and fatalities and this is a job we don’t ever want to do… For example, on November 4, 1998 a worker was changing tooling in a horizontal lathe machine.  While changing the cutters on the lathe the automated loader which loads the machine, filled with parts and proceeded to load the lathe. The loader which was behind the worker moved into position trapping the worker between the lathe and the loader.  The worker was crushed in the machine and was killed. This tragic incident happened at GM St. Catharines Ontario Street Plant on the East Side Internal Gear Department OP #20 Werth Lathe.

The worker’s name is Joel Murray and he was 39 years old. Joel’s name is still mentioned today by both workers and managers when referring to hazardous energy safety concerns, but to those who did not know Joel, he was so much more than a faceless name or statistic. At the time of his death, Joel was a husband to Wendy for 16 years and he left a daughter Pamela aged 14 and a son Thomas aged 12. Today, Joel would be 60 years old and likely retired, and he now has 4 grandchildren he has never known. Joel was filling in for a worker who normally worked on this machine. Joel was a very safety conscious worker, but he hadn’t worked on this particular machine in over a year and probably didn’t know that the limit switches guarding the perimeter gates had been tampered with, rendering them inoperable and ineffective. The arms had been bent upwards so they made constant contact with the frame of the perimeter guard instead of resting on the guard itself. As such, the switches would always give the signal that the guard was closed. Joel entered the machining envelope to make a tooling adjustment and shortly after the automation loaded him into the machine, where he died. The company plead guilty to “failing to maintain an interlocking device in good condition” and was issued a $325,000 fine, but this is all after the fact. Nothing can bring Joel back to his family.

We appreciate the company agreeing to this resolve. No one ever wants to experience another Joel Murray tragedy. This training will be delivered by Edward Steers to all Production T/Ls and Back-up T/Ls only, every Monday afternoon from 12:30 – 2:15pm in the Vortec room beside the Engine Theatre.

2019 Metalworking Fluids Exposure Assessment   

The company has agreed to perform a metalworking fluids exposure assessment in the first quarter of 2019. The last time an exposure assessment was done in our plant was 2014. Metalworking fluids are the coolants and fluids used in machining operations, and the mists generated during those operations must be controlled to exposure levels that have been agreed to in our Master Agreement, as well as General Motors Workplace Safety System performance and technical standards. An exposure assessment is a plant wide survey to identify the total metalworking fluid oil mist aerosol concentrations using industrial hygiene testing methods. An exposure assessment involves a combination of real-time aerosol exposure surveys and personal air sampling to evaluate workers exposure and to evaluate the effectiveness of engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation systems and machine enclosures. The goal is to ensure our equipment is operating as designed and maintained in good condition, as required by law.

Aerosol exposure surveys, or aerosol mapping is a technique where a direct reading aerosol monitor is used to collect short duration area samples at building columns throughout the plant during a work shift. The data collected is processed using special software to create a colour contour map of aerosol concentrations overlaid on the floor plan of the building, giving us a snapshot of various concentration levels by department. This map will give us the data we need to help us pin point areas of the plant that may need attention to reduce aerosol concentrations if possible, to help us keep exposures to metalworking fluids as low as we can to prevent workers from experiencing symptoms, all within the framework of what has been agreed to. More to come on this topic soon.

Personal air sampling is the second part of the assessment where a collection filter, which is not a respirator, is worn by a worker during a work shift to collect aerosol to estimate an 8-hour time-weighted average exposure and is used to compare air quality measurements with the established GM Occupational Exposure Limit. Within the next couple weeks, we will be looking for six volunteers in total, one volunteer from each of the following machining areas to wear a collection filter for one shift:

In HFV6: Mod 1-2 Block, Mod 1-2 Head, Mod 3 Block/Head – one volunteer from each;

In GF6: Valve Body Machining and Prismatics Machining – one volunteer from each;

In Gen V:   Mod 1-2 Block – one volunteer;

If you are interested in volunteering to help with personal air sampling please let us or your G/L know.


Chip Management

We have been driving chip management since Aug. 2017, and are now very close to closing this issue. This is a safety issue because bacteria and mold can grow inside poorly maintained machines. Chip management is a very important part of our maintenance process that must be properly managed and not overlooked. We wanted accountability throughout the plant, that some form of chip management is being done in each department. It was not our intention to create more work for fewer people, nor are we dictating what is being done on the floor. What form that CM takes is up to the floor to determine as well as how much time the machines require. If there are issues, call us and we will back you up to get whatever you need.

Unifor Health and Safety Rep Edward Steers, 905 641 6420, Cell/Text 905 658 3271, ed.steers@gm.com

Alternate Unifor Health and Safety Rep Mike Pagano,   905 641 6420, PTT 7440029, mike.pagano@gm.com