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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2007 — Health and Safety

Safety: a priority at the homogenization furnace in the Bécancour aluminum smelter

Since becoming operational, the new homogenization furnace at the Bécancour smelter has been equipped with a number of safety devices to protect workers. The plant's multidisciplinary team charged with carrying out the risk analysis before the furnace was built established a fundamental rule: zero access to the danger zone.

To ensure that this rule is respected at all times, a physical barrier was placed around the furnace. Moreover, photocell beams were installed at the furnace input and output areas. If anything or anyone interrupts one of these beams when the furnace is running, it will immediately shut down. The operator's control panel also includes a control that shuts off all energy supply when the pressure of the operator's hand becomes either too strong or too weak.
A safety protocol has been developed for different kinds of intervention such as maintenance or diagnosing breakdowns. All these activities are carried out in a state of zero energy, whether that energy is in electrical, thermal or other form. Lockout devices have been created to make sure everything works properly every time.
Training sessions specifically focused on these special safety devices have been added to training on more traditional issues, such as protection against falls. Automated programs that generate activity reports, as well as alerts in case of breakdown, manage all the safety mechanisms.