Crane carrying a large
100% Crew-Led Kaizen Event Eliminates
With strong support from management, a team of operators at
Alcoa’s Davenport Works in Iowa (USA) planned and implemented a two-day Kaizen
(rapid improvement) event that eliminated two fatality risks associated with
overhead cranes and four hand/arm crush risks in the coil sheet department.
“Periodically, we conduct a fatality assessment that identifies and
ranks risks,” said Mike Nicholas, equipment operator and coach for the Kaizen
event. “While we didn’t have any major fatality risks in the coil sheet
department, there were a few lower-ranked ones. As the department’s union
committee person, I had a meeting with the managers to discuss what we could do
to eliminate those risks. That’s where the idea of a crew-led Kaizen event
started, and we expanded it to include the hand/arm crush risks.”
the two-day event in November 2007, nine employees from the coil sheet
department were joined by two operators from the flat sheet department who had
experience with hand/arm crush risks. The focus for the fatality portion of the
event was two risks associated with the overhead crane—ensuring people were not
below the crane when it was carrying large trays of product, and prohibiting
pedestrian and mobile equipment traffic in a high-traffic intersection when the
crane was overhead.
“The team went and observed the problem areas,
talked to people to get their input, and brainstormed ideas,” said John Hazen,
coil operator and leader of the Kaizen event. “We generated 56 ideas and
completed 23 of them during the event, with 75% completed by the end of
Improvements already implemented or in the process of
implementation include an automated railroad gate system to isolate the crane
corridor at both ends and at all intersections while the crane is moving. The
moving crane trips a switch to close the gates it is approaching.
Kaizen team also used targeted communication about overhead crane safety to
increase awareness about vertical drop zones and the hazard of standing within
one of these zones when the crane is hauling the oversized trays.
Solutions to eliminating four hand/arm crush risks included using a
strap to thread a coil line, eliminating hands close to the edge of the metal. A
second solution was to use a tool to load coil onto the tub marker machine to
avoid having hands pinched between the machine and the coil.
successful because management told us to take the challenge and run with it and
we’ll support you with whatever ideas you come up with,” said Nicholas. “That
really made a difference, because the people participating in the Kaizen event
knew that if they came up with a good idea, there was a good chance it would get
used. I think more people are now willing to get involved and give ideas because
they see things are changing.”