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Foundry Safety is an Integral Part of Company Culture

Doug Kurkul

There are approximately 1,700 metalcasting facilities in the United States and hundreds more in Canada and Mexico. These facilities design and produce the highly-engineered metal castings without which our economy could not function.  

Nothing is more important than the safety of the men and women who comprise our industry’s workforce. Increasingly, foundries are making safety an integral part of their company culture and a full-time focus. From the CEO through all operations, safety is emphasized and discussed on a daily basis, procedures are frequently reviewed, and new employees are thoroughly trained. All employees receive reminders and refresher training. 

The American Foundry Society offers an array of programs and resources that are supporting, promoting, and improving foundry safety. In this month’s column, we identify some of those resources. 

The AFS Safety Committee is part of AFS’s highly active Environment, Health and Safety Division. The information shared within the Division’s conferences, meetings, and communications is incredibly valuable as we work together to foster environmental quality and safe workplaces. We encourage every foundry to designate at least one representative to participate in the EHS Division. The only requirement is an AFS membership.  

The AFS Safety 101 Workshop will be presented March 18-20 at AFS HQ in Schaumburg, Illinois. Perfect for new employees or a refresher, it features expert instructors including AFS Safety Committee Chair Brent Charlton (Metal Technologies) and other experts. The topics to be taught include “You’re the Safety Person – Now What,” “Doing Safety Differently,” “OSHA Update,” “Lockout Tagout,” “Robotics and Risk-Based Assessment for Machinery,” “Respirable Crystalline Silica,” “Respiratory Protection,” “Industrial Hygiene Overview,” “Electrical Safety/Arc Flash,” “Hearing Conservation,” “Emergency Planning and Fire Protection,” “Safety Metrics,” “Developing a Training Program,” “Fall Protection,” and “Incident Investigation.” (AFS is also offering an Advanced Waste Seminar in Schaumburg on May 15-16.)  

AFS member Ted Schorn (Enkei America) recently hosted an AFS webinar in which he analyzed the most recent OSHA safety statistics. The webinar is available in the on-demand, Archived Webinar section of the AFS website (www.afsinc.org) and we recommend that foundry leaders devote time to this webinar. 

Because a culture of foundry safety starts at the top, the AFS Foundry Leadership Summit, September 22-24 at the Broadmoor Resort, will feature Dr. Todd Conklin, a respected safety and human-performance expert. Registration for the Summit will open in May.  

In the AFS online bookstore, we offer the AFS Health & Safety Guide, Air Sampling Method for Assessing Worker Exposure to Crystalline Silica, and other resources. Foundry E-Learning also offers two modules pertaining to safety.  

Each foundry has its own way of delivering the message. Brent Charlton says the four D’s are one way to communicate about safety risks. The four D’s are dumb, dangerous, difficult, or different. You can find videos on LinkedIn that Brent recorded during National Safety Month 2023 that explain the four D’s. 

We look forward to working with all metalcasters to promote safety. To join the Safety Committee, please contact Kim Perna: kperna@afsinc.org.