After several years of poor safety performance, Goodyear’s tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., had two major injuries in 2006 , which occurred when employees were caught in the facility’s let-off shear machinery. In one event, a machine had been left in automatic mode and seized and injured an operator’s hands when he patted down the roll of rubber on it.
“We had a huge need for improved safety,” said Charles Skaggs, Goodyear’s health and safety manager, who spoke in November at Rockwell Automation’s Automation Fair 2008 in Nashville, Tenn.
Goodyear and Rockwell installed presence-sensing equipment and light-activated barriers from August to December 2007. These devices prevent the wind-up and let-off machines from running if an operator puts a hand in them. Skaggs reported that Gadsden improved its safety performance and record by 61% in the approximately 12 months that it’s been in place.
The plant also had 34 fewer OSHA-reportable incidents during the same period, and its safety project also has reduced downtime by 34%. Finally, the $885,000 worth of safety equipment that Goodyear has installed so far paid for itself in just four months. More specifically, Gadsden’s OSHA-reportable incidents dropped from 148 in 2004 to just 29 in 2007 and only 27 in 2008, as of the conference proceedings.