US: The Portland Cement Association (PCA) has announced the winners of the 2018 Safety Innovation Awards. The awards recognise creative safety-enhancing projects in the cement industry. Winners were determined by a panel of judges that evaluated submissions from across the country for milling/grinding, distribution, pyroprocessing and general facility.
Cemex USA’s Miami plant Florida won the milling/grinding category with its new process to load ball mills. The site developed a new mill loading process that uses a small hopper for grinding media, and an incline transport system with buckets to convey the grinding media directly to the mill. This new system eliminates the interaction between the employee and the machine, reduces the number of people needed to load the mill from five to two, and eliminates the need for employees to stand on top of the mill. This new system also improves mill loading rates from seven drums/hr to 30 drums/hr.
Cemex USA’s Houston operations in Texas won the pyroprocessing category for it use of drones for hazardous inspections. It has implemented a system for using protected air drones to inspect enclosed and confined spaces. Visual inspections of enclosed areas (preheater towers, tanks, silos, process ducts, etc) normally require intrusive equipment, long delays for system cooling, and placement of employees on scaffolding in confined spaces. These drones utilise an outer protective cage to minimize the risk of breakage due to impact. The drone program has eliminated the risk of putting staff in confined spaces, reduced the cost of scaffolding, and reduced the overall time for inspections.
LafargeHolcim US’ Corporate Program in Chicago won the distribution category for its X-Factor barge cover. It has developed a process for barge cover removal that reduces the risk of falls from employees stepping on to the barge. The X-Factor barge cover, developed over the last three years with a contractor, uses the latest technology and a no-touch design to allow a crane operator to perform all functions associated with barge lid handling without additional human assistance. Barge workers will no longer be required to step onto the barge to remove or replace barge covers, eliminating a potential fall risk.
Ash Grove Cement’s Louisville plant in Nebraska won the general facility category for its use of magnets as duct hole patches. Ash Grove has developed a hole-patch technique using magnets. Magnetic patches are quick, simple, and effective at preventing or limiting the release of materials from holes created in ducts caused by abrasion, leading to a cleaner plant, reduced slip, trip and fall risks, and fewer related Mine Safety and Health Administration housekeeping citations.
Cemex USA’s Brooksville in Florida also won the general facility category for its filters moved to ground level project. It redesigned the blower housings to move the filter from the top of the blower housings to an easily accessible location at ground level. The redesigned blower housing eliminates the need for employees to climb up and down a ladder, reducing overexertion and fall hazard.