Written by Hugh Maxwell, Previous HSE Director, Vesuvius. 
Vesuvius are an international market leader supplying refractory products, solutions and supervision of labour in high-risk steel manufacturing locations. This involves deployment of labour and supervisory staff in high-risk activities and areas supporting steel production.

In 2007 and 2008 Vesuvius suffered employee fatalities in steel plants in Trinec, Czech Republic and Teesside, England. Since then Hugh Maxwell, HSE Director led a Global improvement initiative from 2008 aimed at reducing accidents, reducing severity and eliminating workplace fatalities in high-risk industrial activities. The programme has reduced lost-time numbers in 2008 from 184 to less than 50 per year for employees and contractors in the Vesuvius group, from 2013 until current day. The increased focus and behavioural changes have ensured no fatalities in global steel plants for any Vesuvius employee or contactor since 2008. Additional high safety standards and improved practices have meant that there have been no lost-time injuries in any European, Middle Eastern or Russian steel plant work for nearly three years. Hugh’s work has resulted in the following:

  • Specific training in key safety topics such as behavioural safety and auditing, incident investigation and risk assessment, starting with senior management and then cascading to all supervisory levels and beyond.
  • Greater employee and management engagement in health and safety prior to work and throughout work activities. Standardization of repetitive tasks and a risk-based approach for non-standard activities.
  • Pre-contractual acceptance safety assessments to make the workplace safer for all concerned.
  • Developing safety partnerships globally with our whole customer base.

Having developed a strong working relationship and trust with one of our key international customers, Hyundai Steel, Vesuvius provided ongoing support and assistance from their internal safety expertise throughout 2014 until 2016 to assist in promoting greater safety awareness and focus in high risk areas of activity. In October 2013, an initial safety audit was conducted by Vesuvius senior HSE Management, focusing upon sharing Permit to Work best practices following a severe accident in the Hyundai Plant resulting in five contractor fatalities. Further recommendations were shared with the customer relating to increasing safety focus and awareness. In February 2014, a follow up visit provided support focusing upon the Continuous Casting Departments 1 and 2 and Ladle Preparation areas, where concerns and effective improvement recommendations were discussed and agreed solutions implemented by our Customer’s highly committed Management.

Safety Leadership

Strong Safety from Vesuvius was shared initially with Hyundai area Management. Vesuvius PLC Chairman, Sir John McDonough had the opportunity to visit Hyundai during the time this support was being given, positively reinforcing our contribution towards meeting our customer’s needs over and above the supply of traditional product-based applications. Such opportunities are mutually beneficial and allow us to add value in areas where many other contractors do not see the importance of good safety foundations and practices. Our relationship and support to Hyundai Steel through this safety initiative shows just how important our role truly is – not just supplying high performance product solutions but in turn contributing more to a healthier and safer workplace. We developed a safety partnership and shared training in Korean to ensure best practices were shared, risks identified, new systems to improve control of contractors, permit to work, gas detection, elimination of coactivity’s in high-risk areas and improved pre-work assessment and OK to start measures were established.

 *Please note, the views expressed by the original article author are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of Washingtondowling Associates Ltd or The SHE Show and therefore we take no responsibility for the content or accuracy of this post.