Case Studies

 
These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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Guardrails at bake oven
Guardrails at bake oven - before
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Before, the plant used to have a system of guardrails at its bake oven made up of a series of chains linked to movable posts. 

Guardrails at bake oven - after
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After, the new system comprises solid barriers that meet all health and safety standards.  They are easy to use, enabling workers to move them, when needed.

Trucker safety
Trucker safety
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The temporary and the new covered gangway.

Safety nets at the Port of Trois-Rivières
Safety nets at the Port of Trois-Rivières
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2007 — Health and Safety

Protection against falls: a priority at Deschambault

The people responsible for health and safety at the Deschambault Smelter focus on continuous improvement of practices to ensure the well-being of all workers.  Preventing falls is one of the key issues they are looking at in several areas of the plant.  They even formed a designated team, the Fall Protection Instructors.  Since 1999, over 600 improvement projects have been completed in an effort to minimize the risk of accidents.
 
Bake oven
The plant used to have a system of guardrails at its bake oven made up of a series of chains linked to movable posts.  These chains were not very visible and did not provide adequate protection.  Its new system comprises solid barriers that meet all health and safety standards.  They are easily identifiable thanks to their bright yellow colour.  They are also easy to use, enabling workers to move them, when needed, to areas where there is a higher risk of falling.
 
Trucker safety
Following fatal accidents within Alcoa, the Deschambault Smelter established a general directive by installing a gangway to protect truckers while they are installing or removing the tarps used to cover shipments of product.
 
A temporary gangway was built following the recommendation of the Fall Protection Instructors and the Industrial Vehicles Committee.  The temporary set-up, which was kept as a backup, and the new covered gangway are located behind the Casthouse, where there is the greatest number of users.
 
In addition to the gangways, other safety measures were installed to protect those working on open vehicles, including the use of a perch that prevents the need to climb up on trailers and the compulsory wearing of a hardhat by boom truck operators when they have to climb onto a platform to adjust their load.
 
Safety nets at the Port of Trois-Rivières
The Deschambault Smelter receives its raw materials, mainly alumina and coke, at its port facilities in Trois-Rivières.  These material are transported on large belt conveyors from the ships to the unloading dock.
 
The risks surrounding this equipment can be significant and steel mesh barriers were used to prohibit access.  The latter are, however, very heavy and difficult to manipulate.  As a result, workers who had to move them in order to access the conveyors for maintenance or repairs did not always replace them – which was unacceptable.
 
A designated team was created to deal with this challenge in a way that would meet the needs of operators and mechanics, while respecting health and safety standards.  The final product had to be light, durable and economical.  After a prototyping process that resulted in the creation of four types of guardrails, the group was able to achieve all these goals.
 
Today, workers are protected by a cord net surrounded by a flexible yellow membrane that is highly visible.  The nets were developed to be easy to manipulate, although this is no longer that much of an issue since other innovations have made it so that the workers conducting most of the maintenance work can now accomplish their tasks without having to unhook them.
 
Reflecting its general concern for health and safety, the Deschambault Smelter has shared its innovation with others.  In fact, it has been adopted by other aluminum smelters (some of them competitors) as well as by some cement plants.  Also noteworthy is that the project has been nominated for the Excellence in Innovation award by the Quebec health and safety commission (CSST).