Safety, Health, and Wellness
Without a foundation of safe behaviors, worksites, and processes, we would not be the Company we are today. While injuries are rare occurrences at our facilities, we remain vigilant to ensure a safe work environment for all our employees and visitors to our sites.
For this reason, our approach to safety must be proactive and comprehensive, incorporating active leadership visibility, regular worksite analysis, hazard identification, and effective health and safety training.
Continuous improvement in our safety culture is another essential component of our success. Strengthening our safety culture means not only reinforcing safe behaviors, but also creating mutual accountability to ensure that people look out for one another. Across our Company, ensuring a work environment that protects workers and surrounding communities is personal.
Schnitzer’s Safety Strategy
Prevent serious injuries and fatalities
Achieve zero injuries
Cultivate personal safety leadership
Even though we were named a charter member of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ Circle of Safety Excellence, our practices, protocols, and tools to enhance safety are always evolving. Schnitzer’s safety policies and programs are based on leading industry practices and are implemented through the expertise of our safety team. Through industry organizations such as the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and the Steel Manufacturers Association, we actively participate in dialogues regarding reporting standards, benchmarks, and safety trends. In Fiscal Year 2019, Schnitzer introduced a new, multi-year safety strategy that emphasizes prevention of serious injuries and fatalities, works toward achievement of zero injuries, and empowers employees to cultivate personal safety leadership. With zero injuries as our ultimate aspiration, we are working toward a near-term goal of a 1.00 total case incident rate by the end of Fiscal Year 2025 (one recordable injury per 200,000 working hours).
Serious injury and fatality (SIF) prevention
The first pillar of our safety strategy focuses on eliminating incidents that pose the greatest risks to our employees.
For example, while pedestrian interaction with mobile equipment is a risk at all of our divisions, molten metal is a unique risk for Cascade Steel. For each task with high SIF potential, we establish controls to reduce or eliminate risk. These controls can include both behavioral change and engineering controls, such as automation and ergonomic improvements. Our next step is to reinforce with employees the critical risks they may face on the job and reiterate the necessary controls to help keep them safe. For front-line employees, this means being empowered to stop work and speak to a supervisor at any time if a control is missing or ineffective. For leaders, reducing SIF potential means engaging teams to identify critical risks and verify that controls are in place.
Beyond reducing individual injuries and fatalities, an important goal of this work is to create a shared learning environment that improves safety throughout the Company. We thoroughly investigate all incidents, allowing us to determine whether an incident is linked to a systemic issue that may require change at facilities beyond the one where the incident occurred and learn from these incidents to prevent reoccurrence.
Programs that are helping reduce SIF potential across Schnitzer include:
A safe driving camera system for over-the-road truck drivers. This system alerts drivers and managers to behaviors like speeding and unsafe braking, as well as driver fatigue.
A “molten metal pathway” at our steel mill to keep employees, visitors, and vendors safe. When a melt is occurring, people must clear the area for their safety. New signage, floor markings, lights, and alarms send a clear signal to anyone present to clear to a safe area.
Regular training for rescue teams. For the past nine years, Cascade Steel has maintained an employee-led “confined space rescue team” and “ropes rescue team” who are at the ready to assist a colleague trapped in a confined space or at heights. Team members participate in monthly training and drills, and regularly collaborate with the local McMinnville Fire Department.
Working toward achieving zero injuries
Beyond eliminating the most serious hazards, there are many ways we can help keep our people safe and ready to work. The second pillar of our safety strategy involves creating a culture in which employees understand that being productive does not take priority over being safe. We establish this expectation when new Schnitzer hires are onboarded and trained and reinforce this message to all our employees with actions like daily safety huddles to remind employees how to best protect themselves, as well as monthly Safety and Environmental town halls.
Reporting systems and monitoring processes allow us to ensure our controls are effective and we are on track to meet our goals. For example, we track not only all incidents that occur, but also near misses, allowing us to learn from and respond to potential risks. A new process known as the field-level risk assessment (FLRA) helps maintenance groups and operators prepare for non-routine tasks. To complete an FLRA, an individual or team identifies the risks that exist in the task at hand and documents the controls they will implement to address each of the identified risks.
Another initiative that is proving successful in helping us drive toward zero injuries is the Focus Sites Program, through which sites receive increased support from operations and safety leadership. In Fiscal Year 2019, 19 metals recycling and Pick-n-Pull facilities were part of the first cohort of the program. These facilities saw an overall 49 percent reduction in recordable injuries, and many sites are currently recording an injury-free performance. We will continue to roll out this program to other facilities in the future.
Working toward zero incidents and injuries also requires adopting a holistic view of occupational health. This includes informal actions, such as check-ins at the beginning of a shift to ensure employees appear mentally and physically ready for work. It also includes offerings such as a nurse line, available for free across the Company.
At Cascade Steel, where employees face particular risks due to exposure to heat and potentially hazardous materials, a formal wellness program helps keep health and safety top of mind. The mill offers water and fresh fruit to help employees stay hydrated, with special emphasis on the importance of hydration during summer months. Respirators and showers are provided to workers who are exposed to lead during the steelmaking process. In addition, an on-site fitness coordinator helps to encourage proper stretching and to create an ergonomic work environment that reduces the potential for sprains, strains, or overexertion injuries.
Personal safety leadership
We cannot meaningfully reduce major and minor safety incidents across Schnitzer without engaging employees at every level across our Company. For this reason, the third pillar of our safety strategy is to empower employees to take accountability for their own safety and that of others, and to provide tools and programs that can make this possible.
During Fiscal Year 2019, every Schnitzer supervisor and manager participated in a two-day training class on safety roles and responsibilities. The health and safety team conducts infield coaching with supervisors to ensure they are meeting expectations and providing tips on ways they can increase their teams’ engagement.
LSOs Performed in Fiscal Year 2019
One way that managers engage their teams is through Layered Safety Observations (LSOs). During an LSO, managers at multiple levels observe a worker performing a task. After the task is complete, the employee and managers have a conversation during which they discuss potential hazards involved in the task and controls that have been put in place. Managers may offer constructive feedback, and employees have the opportunity to share their own concerns or suggestions for further improvement. We expect every facility manager across Schnitzer to conduct at least one LSO per week. As we continue to embed this program within the Company, we are building trust with our employees, who are learning that LSOs are designed to facilitate productive conversations about how everyone can contribute to greater safety.
Managing risks at recycling facilities
Ensuring that radioactive materials do not enter our metals shredding facilities is a critical safety priority. We address this risk by using radiation detectors at multiple points throughout the recycling process, including when a scrap delivery vehicle first arrives at a facility and both before and after shredding. In Fiscal Year 2019, we added more points of detection for radiation in our steel manufacturing operations to further strengthen this capability. Likewise, we actively monitor for fire risk by inspecting scrap on delivery and isolating any discovered flammable materials. Forward-looking infrared cameras at some facilities are also used to proactively detect “hot spots” within scrap piles to help mitigate potential fire risks.