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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Sanding a casting wheel

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Changing the drying cloth using a large set of pliers

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2008 — Health and Safety

Better protection at the Bécancour Rod Plant

In a spirit of continuous improvement, occupational health and safety (OH&S) requirements have evolved over the years in the aluminium sector.  The Bécancour Rod Plant, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2007, has done the same.  In this same spirit, it recently modified some of its machines to better protect employees.
Casting wheel grinder
Following a serious accident in 2006 at the casting wheel, the group responsible for OH&S at the rod plant launched an action plan to improve the safety for machine users.  This plan touches 30-50 different devices, including the casting wheel, which was the target of one of the first initiatives.
This wheel and the accompanying band give shape to metal in fusion to create a rod.  To function at its best, the wheel much be regularly sanded.  This task was done by hand by an employee until the accident occurred.
In collaboration with employees and the worker reps for prevention, a solution was identified in 2007 involving the installation of a grinder (a large sandpaper brush) held by a support.  This device is placed into position when needed.  A worker turns the casting wheel at a slow pace from outside the protective barriers around the machine, and the grinder does the work efficiently and without exposing anyone to the risks encountered in the past.
Rag changing system
The casting wheel must also be dried from time to time, another operation that workers had to perform by hand from inside the protective barriers. The proximity to the machine while in motion was a real danger. To avoid the workers having to open the protective barriers, the rod plant team is developing a new system that enables them to complete this task from a distance using a large set of pliers.
The development of this new approach and the related tool is a team effort between the rod plant’s OH&S Committee and the Centre de recherche en outils industriels.