M-Group’s CEO Klaus Röpke launched the event by welcoming some 30 production and plant managers, occupational safety officers and consultants from the cement industry. He then acquainted the conferees with the three M-Group business segments: refractory technology by Möller, lime shaft kilns by Eberhardt Schwab, and safety technology by RefraSolid GmbH. The RefraVision division, devoted to digitization and innovation, could be regarded as the group’s fourth business segment.
The first specialist lecture, held by attorney Wolf-Simon Greling on the subject of entrepreneurial responsibility in occupational safety (original title: Unternehmerverantwortung im Arbeits-schutz) provided a rundown on the objectives of occupational health and safety regulations, including an account of the legal bases. He elucidated the employers’ duties with regard to compliance with occupational health and safety regulations, plus the obligations and liabilities on the part of senior managers with appurtenant responsibilities in contrast to consultants and advisors such as shop stewards, safety specialists and company medical officers.
Edmund Hinz, of AQ-Hinz Arbeitssicherheit + QM, explained why “Accidents are never coincidents: preventive measures and potentials.” As an occupational safety specialist, Hinz related his own views on various aspects of risk assessment, how accidents are caused, and how accidents should be assessed and appraised. He compared approaches like the zero-accident strategy with other means of improving corporate culture and, hence, with a safety culture in which, for example, the employee stands as the solution, not as the problem.
Then came Oliver Dreweskracht, of RefraSolid GmbH, who highlighted a number of “Safety options exemplified for a heat-exchange tower”. He explained why special safety solutions are required for securing ceilings against falling objects during repair and assembly work on refractory plant. Nets, e.g., the CatchNet or ImpactNet, are a well proven choice of solution. One other alternative, so-called umbrella systems, was explained by way of several examples, including their installation and application.
The first day ended with a guided tour of a private brewery in Detmold, followed by a convivial dinner with lots of opportunities for technical discussions and an intensive exchange of views.
The second day was opened by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Philipp Fleiger, of VDZ gGmbH, who lectured on “Alkali chromate: status and current findings”. For two years now, the VDZ Working Group on Occupational Safety has been devoting special attention to the handling of chromate (chromium[VI] compounds) that forms in kilns and preheaters due to the increasing use of high-alloy steels in the clinker burning process. On the basis of in-plant surveys and the introduction of quick-chromate testing, the VDZ working group has issued a recommendation for action on protective measures for work in exposed areas, as well as for storage and disposal. This recommendation for action is available in both German and English on the VDZ website, as is an Excel spread sheet showing examples of suitable personal protective gear for activities in the relevant areas (www.vdz-online.de).
The participants were then provided with an overview of the M-Group’s safety solutions in connection with a tour of the factory. The tour also included an easy-to-grasp explanation of topics like refractory installation work, materials management and project management, all the way from minor repairs to large-scale, turnkey refractory services.
On-site practical demonstrations illuminated the use and effectiveness of the subject safety systems. For example, a safety net and umbrella solution were subjected to a practical endurance test.
Offering a spate of best-practice examples stemming from various cement plants in which RefraSolid nets and/or umbrella systems are used, Oliver Dreweskracht opened a round-robin set of discussions that the attendees happily exploited for a lively exchange of views and experience.
Closing the successful and informative event, Stefan Sasse, of Möller Feuerfesttechnik GmbH & Co. KG, presented some possible future safety solutions in his contribution called “RefraVision – Outlook for a safe future”.