On 04.10.2014 the entire Leube workforce had cause for celebration. This day marked a new record for the company’s lime works in Golling, 20 km south of Salzburg/Austria: seven years of operation without a single accident – that means 2555 injury-free working days. Leube safety officers Michael Langegger, Manager of Production and Maintenance at the lime works, Klaus Czepl, Production Manager of the Leube Cement Plant and Peter Kraihamer of the Maintenance and Safety Department, explain in this interview how this outstanding safety standard was achieved.
Langegger: There is an excellent degree of interaction between the company and the workforce. Our team is extremely safety conscious. We invest a great deal in safety and undertake continuous training of all our employees. The company’s safety culture is lived from the top down and is implemented by every single employee. But for absolutely no accidents to occur, a certain amount of luck is naturally also involved.
Langegger: Our safety system consists of three components that intermesh like cogs in a machine. Firstly, Leube does everything possible to ensure that hazards do not occur. Secondly, the risk represented by unavoidable sources of hazard is minimized as far as possible. And the third component is effective personal protective equipment provided to all employees to reduce the risk of injury to a minimum.
Czepl: For every sector of the company, our safety regulations specify precisely what protective equipment the employees have to wear during work.
Kraihamer: And it is a feature of our working process that constant checks are carried out to see if anything needs to be replaced, and whether the protective equipment is actually being worn in accordance with company regulations. For instance, everybody is provided with individualised ear plugs that are specially adjusted to the employee’s auditory canal and to the noise level occurring at his/her place of work. This ensures that the employee can hear well enough and can communicate with others in spite of the ear plugs. In addition, disposable hearing protectors are available to all employees who permanently work in noisy sections of the plant.
Czepl: In the area of the preheater, our colleagues have to wear heat-protection clothing as the material can reach temperatures of up to 1000 °C at that location. The special shoes, heat protection suits, glasses and boots prevent the high temperatures from affecting the body.
Langegger: Leube also constantly holds safety briefings and safety training courses. All our suppliers are also briefed on our safety regulations on an annual basis. If any employee of an outside company forgets to wear protective clothing and equipment, for instance helmets, they are “bugged” about it by all Leube employees that they meet – i.e. everybody is under an obligation to remind them to put on the required personal protective equipment!
Langegger: I can’t say where the most hazardous places in the lime works are; after all, we haven’t had any accidents for seven years.
Czepl: In the cement works, the most dangerous places are flat surfaces. Most accidents happen because of people slipping or twisting an ankle. At the production equipment, particular care is required in the vicinity of the preheater. Because of the very high ambient temperatures, our employees wear a complete “astronaut suit”, as we jokingly call the heat protection suits.
Kraihamer: In our accident analyses we have noticed an increase in slight injuries of the hands. In fact, the Austrian Allgemeine Unfallversicherung (General Accident Insurance) has made this a priority issue. We have therefore placed a special focus on such injuries and brief all our departments on how they can be avoided. External experts and occupational health physicians support us in these efforts, as well as in all other areas of our work, in order to achieve the highest possible degree of safety in our company.
Czepl: Even before the fire, the coal dust silo met all relevant safety standards. We have numerous modern plant units in operation. But we did learn some lessons from the fire, and saw that improvements can be made, even to such good plant technology. The new coal dust silo is, so-to-say, the “luxury model” of safety technology. Everything is doubly protected. The problem which caused the 2013 fire can no longer occur. We are equipped for all possible contingencies – even for eventualities that, according to the experts, are more than improbable.
Czepl: We have a crisis manual and various procedure plans and guidelines containing instructions about what to do in case of emergency.
Langegger: Of course we carry out drills in both factories. We also regularly train together with the fire brigade, to ensure that everybody is absolutely familiar with the procedures to be followed in case of fire.