Safety suggestions from L'Oreal workers

Here are some changes that were implemented as a result of suggestions made by employees at L'Oréal USA's Solon Manufacturing Facility in Solon, OH:

• Safety mirrors were repositioned for use during forklift operations.

"Many of the forklifts are very big and have obstructed views due to the mast of the truck," says Bill Yeager, assistant vice president of engineering and security, hygiene and environment. "Operating in reverse is required in everyday activity, and the mirrors provide additional vision to the sides and the rear of the truck."

• Problems with the interface of pedestrians and forklifts were identified.

Suggestions included the installation of mirrors, stop signs and railings to prevent pedestrians from walking in front of a forklift, and to force pedestrians to use the safety-validated crosswalks.

• A better option was identified for high- visibility clothing.

High-visibility clothing is required in L'Oréal's warehouse areas to make pedestrians and forklift operators more visible. However, the vests being worn by workers created new risks due to their bulky design. "An employee team was assembled and developed a uniform option that includes brightly colored shirts and overwear to replace the vests. The new option was readily accepted by the site team," says Yeager.

• A risk of a door striking employees was identified.

An employee came forward to say that when the company's solid restroom doors were swung open, they nearly struck an employee reaching for the door on the opposite side. To prevent this from happening, windows with opaque glass in them were installed in the doors, so that someone on the opposite side could be seen. "This modification received positive comments due to numerous near misses that employees experienced but did not report," says Yeager.

• "Hot boxes" used in the plant to melt chemical raw materials and keep temperature sensitive chemicals warm were identified as "confined spaces."

"Mechanics assisted in the development of a lockout system to protect employees repairing these units," says Yeager.

• Leather palm gloves are required for the handling of wooden pallets, but it was noted during several audits that employees were not using the gloves to protect their hands.

This was because the gloves did not provide the dexterity necessary for handling cardboard cases of product, which the employees did after handling the wooden pallets. "It is unrealistic that a person handling five to eight pallets per hour will put their gloves on each time and then remove them to handle cases," says Yeager.

A team of employees addressed the issue by testing numerous alternative gloves and decided on a leather-palmed, mechanic-style glove that provided the proper protection while having enough dexterity to ensure they would be worn continuously. "The new gloves provided a compromise so they did not have to remove or put on additional [personal protective equipment] during their work shift," says Yeager. "The involved employees rolled out the program, and it was well received. A posting was developed and displayed at workstations site wide."