risk management

Risk and Risk Management

Taking Risks

Risk is an important part of life. We each have to manage it, often times encourage it, and in some cases, we even try to eliminate it. Typically, we think of positive risk related to growing our retirement accounts, investing in a new home, or maybe taking a leap and buying an investment property or starting a business. These are considered fairly normal risks to take, but as with all risk, they have the power to produce a scenario where there can be an uncontrolled loss of something valuable – usually your time and money. When we stop taking risks because of uncertainty, we stop moving forward and are likely to become idle.

Many successful people say that the luckiest of us are those who are prepared to take the greatest risks. They say that we create our luck by taking the necessary steps to open the door which makes change, progression, and success all possible.

Encouraging someone to take a risk is something that all parents, mentors, and leaders are familiar with. When we encourage risk is it is usually because we care about the person and want them to grow and learn, and ultimately become successful. These are typically calculated situations that, for the most part, have limited down-side and will likely provide a good shot for a favorable outcome. We know that with enough time and effort a young child will catch on to the concept of riding a bike and that it will benefit their life to know how to ride one. The risks can include scraped knees and elbows, and maybe some hurt feelings and a few tears, but those are all things we can live with.

Another way to look at risk is how it’s handled at Metalwest. Most of us take on only the amount of risk that we can financially or personally handle, knowing that we can start over or try again if things don’t go according to plan. Things are a little different in a setting like ours where we handle material with enormous amounts of weight, operate powerful equipment, and drive delivery vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. In this environment, if an uncalculated risk is taken and things don’t go according to plan, it is entirely possible that what’s lost is much more than a little bit of time and some money.

Proactively Managing Risk

At Metalwest we try to increase everyone’s awareness by openly sharing information and by utilizing training programs that help teach us how to understand and manage our unintentional and risky behavior. Allowing ourselves to become so fatigued that we are mentally and physically exhausted is a risk because it will eventually lead to inattention.

The same goes for rushing and allowing yourself to become frustrated. Each of these can cause us to make mistakes that end up increasing the likelihood of becoming injured, and they are almost guaranteed to contribute to a significant loss in productivity.

Training is a very important part of managing risk and folks in our company have been working hard to improve the processes related to it. We don’t want to just add content or find additional training, we want to keep training simple and make it as effective as possible. A well-trained person is much less likely to make poor decisions and therefore is better prepared to manage risk.

We have all heard that our business is not about metal, it’s about people, and that’s all of us! Properly managing risk helps guarantee that we all go home at the end of the day and ensures the success of our business.

By Dave Suchey - Health, Safety, and Environment Manager at Metalwest
Safety Habits - Forklift

Developing Good Safety Habits

Safety Habits Outside of the Workplace

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Have you ever watched someone walk out of the supermarket, and without even looking for vehicles, step right into the parking lot and begin walking towards their car? I think we’ve all witnessed this a time or two. Maybe there are a few of us brave enough to admit being one of those distracted and careless shoppers who’s put our life in the hands of a stranger whom we expect to be paying attention. I know I’ve done it and that’s a scary thought.

I see this happen all too often and it makes me think of how easily we can become disconnected to our surroundings, and how the potentially catastrophic consequences are just an afterthought. Think about it for a minute. While most people don’t drive faster than 5 or 10 MPH in a parking lot or in front of a store’s entrance, I’ve still seen a few people exceed that. They would never have time to stop if someone walked out in front of them. If you were teaching your children, or anyone you truly care about how to safely navigate a busy parking lot, I’m sure you would want them to develop good safety habits like making eye contact with the people behind the wheel to ensure that they are being noticed and acknowledged.

Inside of the Workplace

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Like many out-of-work scenarios, we can use this example to help us become more aware while at work. For much of the day, our production floors (as well as yours I’m sure) have personnel operating forklifts, man-lifts, and a variety of cranes to complete their work. While we train our equipment operators to always remain aware and give pedestrians the right-of-way, I’d imagine everyone agrees that it’s much easier and safer for our pedestrians to stay out of the line-of-fire than it is to have an operator attempt to stop a heavy piece of equipment without much notice.

By putting real effort into building good habits you can reduce risk caused by complacency. All of us become complacent from time to time, and no one can tell you what you should work on… Unless it’s looking for cars before walking out of the store, everyone should do that!

Developing good habits doesn’t take too much work either, just pick one thing, like making eye contact with forklift and crane operators before you walk into the area. Once this becomes a habit, start to work on a new one.

It’s easy, we just need to realize that there is improvement to be made and that we all can get a little better at preventing accidents by putting a little effort into improving our daily habits.

Check out more posts in our safety series here.

Guest post by Dave Suchey, Health, Safety, and Environment Manager at Metalwest
trailer observation cameras

Trailer Observation Cameras: Employee Safety Series

At Metalwest, safety is one of our top priorities. We are constantly making improvements to our everyday tasks to make sure our employees return home safely to their families each and every day.

One of the improvements we are currently working on is equipping our trucks with trailer observation cameras to help increase driver visibility.

Trailer Observation Cameras

trailer observation camerasAt Metalwest, we are currently placing trailer observation cameras into each of our truck trailers that is equipped with Conestoga systems. A Conestoga is a sliding tarp system that transforms a flatbed into a covered trailer. Adding cameras to the Conestoga system gives the driver visibility of the product he/she is hauling. During transit, it is a possibility for material to shift if it is not properly secure.

Unfortunately, in our industry accidents can and do happen. It is our top priority to prevent them from happening. However, steel products are heavy and sharp. If a skid of sheet or a large coil came loose during transit it could slide off the truck entirely, putting other drivers in danger. It could also slide just enough to put the individual who later unloads the truck in danger.

We recently started using Conestoga trailer covers to help ensure the quality of our material, but that also created a loss of visibility for our drivers. With these observation systems, our drivers can take advantage of all of the benefits that tarp systems provide, while knowing exactly what is going on with the product they are transporting at all times.

It is our hope that these cameras will allow our drivers to prevent any accidents before they happen. After all, we are not just about the steel. It is one more way we go Beyond Metal.

David Suchey, corporate safety manager, contributed to this article.