October 03, 2017

USW local union members are recognized for program achievements at the 2017 Triangle of Prevention Conference

The 2017 Triangle of Prevention (TOP) Conference convened in Philadelphia, Pa., from Sept. 26 to 28, with over 50 attendees present. United Steelworkers (USW) Local Union 10-1 hosted the conference at their local union hall.
The first two days of the conference were held as labor-management sessions and included discussion on significant issues, an eight-hour refresher training and the presentation of awards to TOP sites and local unions for their health, safety and environmental accomplishments within the program.
Awards are submitted by sites prior to the conference and reviewed by the TOP Advisory Group, consisting of elected union members from each sector in the program, who then selects the recipients. Kevin Theriot, TOP representative from Local 13-750, presented the awards at the conference this year.
The first award presented was the Glenn Erwin Award, given to TOP sites for completing an investigation that resulted in a significant improvement. The award is named after Glenn Erwin, who was instrumental in the development of the TOP Program serving as director in 1994, and retiring in 2011. Erwin was also selected by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) as a union representative to the Baker Panel investigating the explosion at the Texas City Refinery in 2005.
USW Local Union 9-675Local 9-675, representing the TOP site at 3M in Guin, Ala., received the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award for a major near-miss investigation.
During hazard awareness refresher training, a local union member pointed out a potential incident that led to a near-miss investigation, followed by corrective action. A CSB video depicting a 2007 explosion was shown during the training prompting the filing of a near-miss. The catastrophe involved a chemical tank farm and float system, where the floats were on swivels connected to cables that ran through the top of the tanks. The tanks were bonded and grounded but it was found that the float mechanism was not grounded and there was potential for static shock. The static arc from the float to the swivel caused the first tank to explode resulting in a chain reaction. The 3M facility was using the same float system, presenting a serious hazard. A near-miss investigation was conducted by the TOP team followed by action items assigned to correct this Design and Engineering Systems of Safety failure.
In addition to the refresher training which yielded this investigation, participants were led on a site walk-through.
“This was putting employees in a different department than they were familiar with,” Milton Simmons, TOP representative from Local 9-675 said. “The idea was to put a new set of eyes armed with a refresher of what [hazards] to look for in a new environment.”
The second and last award Theriot introduced was the Fallen Workers Memorial Award which is given to local unions for building solidarity and exhibiting collective involvement within the TOP Program.
The 2017 Fallen Workers Memorial Award was given to Local 1-912 representing the TOP site at PBF Refinery in Toledo, Ohio, for the development of a holistic team approach to health and safety due to the TOP program.
This site produced a Health, Safety and Environmental Department consisting of the union’s process safety management representative, full-timeUSW Local Union 1-912 safety representative, TOP coordinator, lead investigator and five-person safety team. The team is involved with comprehensive incident investigations and is an integral part of the functionality of the HSE Department. They focus on the highest Systems of Safety possible for action items and communicate lessons learned across the entire facility. The team collaborates with management daily and shares monthly reports at union meetings. The labor-management health and safety committee is divided into subcommittees designed to target specific concerns. Finally, this TOP site retains 30 brothers and sisters that are experienced incident investigators.
“Our story is one of success brought on by the tireless commitment of generations of union brothers and sisters fighting to improve the working conditions at our facility,” Matt Velker, TOP representative from Local 1-912 said. “As one of the charter TOP facilities we have been honored to carry the TOP banner since TOP was first introduced.”
The third day of the conference included only union members. Attendees expressed the importance of TOP on social media, shared site reports, discussed the continued growth of the program and held elections for new Advisory Group members.
Program members will meet again during the week of the 2018 USW Health, Safety and Environment Conference in March.

For more information regarding the Triangle of Prevention Program, visit www.uswtmc.org/top and contact Steve Doherty, program coordinator, at 412-562-2561 or sdoherty@uswtmc.org.

Photos by Michael Hancock, USW Local Union 9-562 retiree.
Photo (top, right): (from left to right) Mike Harris, John Scardella and Milton Simmons.
Photo (bottom, left): (from left to right) John Scardella, Joe Sauerwein, Matt Velker, Richard Avalos, Mike Sarns Jr. and Steve Doherty.

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