Safety Manager: A Day in the Life

By: Lou Kren

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
In 60,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, the 70 employees spread across two shifts at Kreider Corp. work amidst a bevy of presses and other automated equipment. Making sure they leave their Springfield, OH, workplace each day in one piece is the job of Don Amburgey, Kreider’s safety and maintenance manager. Actually, that’s not completely true. The company’s commitment to safety demands that each and every employee takes safety to heart, so it is the entire company that is tasked with ensuring a safe workplace.

Safety Program Brings Lower Injury Rates

Still, Don is the point man that must make sure that all employees hear and heed the safety message. That message has gotten across, as the company boasts safety measurables such as injury and illness rates and days a, restricted, or transfer (DART) rates that have dropped below industry standards as defined by OSHA.

Kreider Corp. is a stamping and fourslide operation with value-added capabilities in assembly, welding, toolmaking, product design, and tool and die design. The company formalized its safety program in 2000, and since that time, Amburgey notes the commitment to safety by management, and the buy-pin by employees. That’s not easy, he notes.

On the Prowl for Safety Shortcuts

“It is human nature to take shortcuts, and in regard to safety,” he says, “that is what I look for.”

How does he do it?
Kreider Corp. press
This press at Kreider Corp. is outfitted with all manner of safety equipment. It is the job of the company’s safety manager to make sure the safety equipment is fully operational and put to proper use by employees.

“I patrol the shop looking for anything that might be any type of an OSHA violation, safety violation or violation of our policies and procedures,” he explains. “And of course when I see something I automatically get it corrected.”


Helping him do that are two inspectors that conduct weekly safety inspections on equipment and safety items such as fire extinguishers. Amburgey follows up on those inspections, collecting inspection reports, conducting his own walkthroughs and making sure that operators perform their own safety checks. Even forklifts must be inspected prior to operation each day (proper safety is in the details). He’ll also shepherd safety work orders and ensure proper preventive maintenance on the shopfloor. Such tasks never end.

“Per OSHA regulations, we inspect safety equipment on all our punch presses regularly, including e-stop buttons and light curtains,” Amburgey says, noting that he is charged with making sure that all such inspections are completed and recorded. “And I have to make sure that all repairs related to those safety inspections are performed in a timely manner. I’m basically a safety cop, on the lookout for any safety issues.”

Amburgey also writes all of Kreider Corp.’s safety policies and procedures, reviewing all related OSHA standards and checking them against company policies to ensure compliance.

“I also deal with any injuries and make sure that our employees receive proper treatment,” he says. “I follow up on treatment, making sure injured employees get to their doctor appointments when they need to be there. I also check on employees with work restrictions to make sure they are working within those restrictions, and manage any paperwork related to injuries and recoveries.”

Responsible for Training, Too

Amburgey works across both shifts to conduct new-employee, forklift and equipment-safety training, typically bringing second-shift employees in early to train on first shift.

“But I do pop in occasionally on second shift to conduct spot inspections,” he says.

As safety and maintenance manager, Amburgey splits his time between the two tasks.

“Of course, safety takes priority over everything else here but if a machine breaks down I have to ensure that my maintenance technician has the tools and equipment he needs to make the required repairs.”

Minding the Equipment

Another part of Amburgey’s safety job: personally install all safety guarding and sensors on machinery.

“All of our automated machinery employ safety light curtains of various lengths,” he explains, “and for die protection we use lasers to detect part ejection or in some cases mini-screens that function similarly to light curtains but with much faster response times. And we employ hard guards wherever required by OSHA—if we don’t have safety light curtains around the equipment or don’t have two-hand controls, we must use hard guards. So we guard the sides and the backs of all of our equipment with light curtains across the front, though we do use light curtains for complete perimeter guarding on some of our machinery. And I’ve updated all of our machinery with dual-processor, solid-state controls to replace the old relay logic.”

Meetings Get the Message Across

Is all that enough to keep a safety manager busy? Certainly, but don’t forget the safety-related meetings.

“We convene a staff meeting every Monday morning with safety and training as topics of discussion,” Amburgey says. The meetings include the company vice president, foreman and scheduling manager as well as engineering and plant superintendents to ensure that the entire plant is on the same safety and training page.

Amburgey also holds informal toolbox meetings any time new equipment is installed. Such a meeting covers machine shutdown procedures, and the safety features and basic operation of the new piece of equipment. MF


Related Enterprise Zones: Safety

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