Percentage of targeted tasks completed
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Ergonomics: a priority at Alcoa’s Baie-Comeau Smelter
Ergonomic initiatives at the Bécancour Smelter
Projects to reduce ergonomic risks - Deschambault Smelter
Employees at our plants have access to capable and well-credentialed healthcare providers that guarantee compliance with Alcoa’s health and safety standards and perform all required annual medical exams. Our on-site medical personnel also provide regular employee check-ups, a service that is highly appreciated and helps foster a climate of trust within our facilities.
Identifying and measuring risks
At Alcoa, we aim to identify and quantify all health risks in the following categories:
- Chemical, physical, and biological agents present in Alcoa facilities related to our manufacturing processes, operations or products;
- Work-related injuries that may be triggered or exacerbated by non-workplace factors; and
- Acute and chronic diseases that may be associated with, or impacted by, workplace factors.
Our rigorous health risk assessment program both quantifies and qualifies these risks. Our facilities identify and define all health risks in their working environment, both for existing tasks and processes as well as for those under development. The quantitative component of the assessment, which is regularly updated, measures and quantifies the risks.
Once the assessment is completed, we establish long-term and incremental targets aimed at eliminating and systematically controlling the risks. This enables us to quantitatively monitor our progress toward achieving the ideals we have established as our benchmarks.
The main risks we aim to reduce and control are noise and chemical exposure, and the risks associated with ergonomics. By 2015, we want to reduce the number of groups overexposed to noise by 6% and to chemicals by 3%. In addition, we are establishing a check list that will allow for a reduction in ergonomic risks year by year, with a target reduction of 50% by 2020.
We bettered our 2015 noise reduction objective in 2013, reducing overexposure by 7% compared to our goal of 6%. For chemical products, we almost reached our 2020 target – a 50% reduction in overexposure – by achieving 48%, mainly as a result of the closure of Baie-Comeau Smelter’s Söderberg plant.
The Deschambault Smelter, meanwhile, was cited for excellence as part of the Alcoa protocol for assessing workplace quality.
Reducing health risks in the workplace
Our corporate objectives are based on eliminating the primary causes of undue health risks. Our focus is on the long-term eradication of inherent risks, whenever possible, rather than the use of layers of protection to manage risk. Worldwide multidisciplinary teams are created on an ad hoc basis to deal with various aspects of a particular objective.
In addition, our facilities identify risks associated with chemical and noise exposure, and ergonomics, so they can put control measures in place such as engineering solutions, product substitutions, work practices management or other solutions (e.g. personal protective equipment), medical monitoring, etc.
Work practices management
Our facilities use ergonomics assessment tools to identify major ergonomic risks and reduce strains, sprains and long-term muscle and tendon problems, conditions that can affect quality of life. We are also developing workstations adapted to the abilities of the individual.
In addition, preventive measures have been implemented to reduce the risks associated with heat exposure, since employees who perform demanding tasks, work in hot environments or wear protective clothing can be at risk for heat-related illnesses.