Paper360 - May/June 2013 - (Page 32)

THE BOTTOM LINE SAFETY TAPPISAFE Through the Eyes of a Labor Attorney A consistent safety orientation program can help protect employees and other people entering the mill GLENN OSTLE A n accident is a horrible occurrence at any time but when it happens at work, it often falls into the realm of Eric Hobbs, a labor and employer attorney with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP in Milwaukee, Wis., who has been dealing with health and safety issues since 1984. “Every accident is awful,” says Hobbs who does a lot of OSHA work for a number of different industries. “We want employees to go home uninjured and certainly alive at the end of the day.” One way to help ensure this within the pulp and paper industry is standardized safety orientation for everyone who has reason to enter a mill, according to Hobbs who is counsel to the Pulp and Paper Safety Association and the Pulp and Paper Manufacturers’ Association, and Employer Co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Occupational Safety and Health Law Committee. For that reason, he supports the work TAPPI and member companies are doing with the TAPPISAFE program. “To a mill or plant, safety orientation is critical,” explains Hobbs who says that it is required by OSHA as well as by different companies, but also is simply a good business practice. “TAPPISAFE is one means of achieving efficient and consistent safety orientation, plant to plant and mill to mill,” he says. “It serves to protect a mill’s employees and the employees of those third parties coming into the mill.” Hobbs is referring to contract workers and other visitors whose jobs bring them to a mill where they are required to undergo canned safety presentations before every visit. “Many of these workers, such as welders, carpenters or other tradesmen, go into a company’s different facilities or into a number of different companies’ locations. Every time they arrive, they have to be “re-trained” so the employer 32 Paper360º MAY/JUNE 2013 can say that they received a safety orientation before they were allowed in—which is incredibly inefficient.” “My own view is that these kinds of safety presentations are frustrating and a hindrance to, rather than a promoter of, occupational safety in the workplace. Some workers resent the fact that they have to go through safety orientation over and over again, so they pay little if any attention, which is counterproductive. Or they have gone through similar orientation so many times they think they don’t have to listen to it, the same way people ignore the safety announcement on an airplane. How many times can you be told how to fasten your seatbelt before you zone out when the announcement is made?” “I represent management so I’m on the other side of OSHA all the time. A program like TAPPISAFE helps make my job a lot easier.” Hobbs explains that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), has jurisdiction in only 23 States. The rest of the States have their own “little OSHAs” that Federal OSHA generally oversees. The reason for this is that when the OSHA Act was passed in 1970, a lot of States already had their own OSHAs and didn’t want to change. “One of the beauties of the TAPPISAFE program is that it is as useful to me in State plan states as it is in the Federal system. It is terrific to have a product like this when OSHA arrives on-site. “At a hearing, I can call employees to see if they received a required safety orientation, but OSHA isn’t necessarily going to just take my word for it during an inspection,” says Hobbs. “If I can show them on paper that it was done, and show them the material covered, that’s ‘gold’ to me.” Eric Hobbs Whenever an industry—as an industry— takes action on safety and health, it is a positive thing, according to Hobbs who points out that the quality of safety training tends to vary from company to company and even from facility to facility within a company, as can policies and recordkeeping. Company size isn’t always indicative of quality or effectiveness, and corporate culture plays a large part, according to Hobbs. Smaller companies, although they don’t have the resources of larger fi rms, sometimes are able to focus those resources and have excellent health and safety programs. Large companies have more resources and are usually able to do a better job, but in some cases their safety orientation programs aren’t of the same quality or effectiveness. “TAPPISAFE can help any company, large or small. It includes excellent program materials that are compliant with standards within the industry, and a record of the safety orientation is maintained which is important to prove that it was done,” says Hobbs. “More important, it helps ensure that people coming into the mill are protected.” “I think TAPPISAFE is great stuff, and my colleagues who have looked at it have drawn a similar conclusion.” Glenn Ostle is Editorial Director/Associate Publisher for Paper360° magazine and can be reached at: Eric Hobbs can be reached at:

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Paper360 - May/June 2013

Over the Wire . . . News Summary
The 2013 TAPPI Award Winners
Successful Asset Management in the Paper Industry from an OEM Point of View
TAPPI Journal Summaries
Managing the Risk of Fire and Explosion in the Pulp and Paper Industry
Broadening the Availability of Carbon Fibers with Lignin
TAPPISAFE Through the Eyes of a Labor Attorney
Bleached Softwood Kraft Pulp
Association News
What’s New on

Paper360 - May/June 2013