Over 50 health and safety leaders in ArcelorMittal met in Luxembourg, 18 to 21 September, to review and improve safety performance.
The leaders were a mixture of union and managers throughout the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. The outcome of the meeting was a commitment to develop a new improvement tool kit for sites.
In 2007, the International Metalworkers’ Federation (now IndustriALL Global Union) the European Metalworkers’ Federation (now IndustriAll European Trade Union) and the United Steelworkers (USW) signed an agreement with management to create a Joint Global Health and Safety Committee (JGHSC) in ArcelorMittal. The agreement has played a central role in reducing fatalities but to date there have been 25 fatalities in the company in 2012.
Since signing the agreement the JGHSC published a “Together For Safety” report in August 2011, which reviewed all the activities carried out by the JGHSC and highlighted some areas for improvement. The report is available for download on the IndustriALL website: http://www.imfmetal.org/files/11081515505779/...
One of the areas identified by the report is the need to improve the effectiveness of joint committees at work sites. The committees are made up of union and management representatives and work on health and safety issues in the plants. As a result of the report a survey was deployed to gather perceptions on how the site committees are working today.
The survey was distributed to all members of the site joint health and safety committees and consisted of 28 questions, which covered 5 categories: working together, safety practices, meeting effectiveness, problem solving, and understanding roles. The survey results served as a baseline for discussions during the 2 day meeting.
The results of the survey showed that opportunity exists to improve safety practices and problem solving. Also, that some individual sites demonstrated opportunities for improvements in varying areas. There was a high degree of consistency in union and management responses. The response rate was 93 per cent of participants (1,457 out of 1,562).
At the Luxembourg meeting the safety leaders considered ways in which to support further improvements. A number of focus groups were formed and each focused on 1of the 5 categories included in the survey. The focus groups then reported back to a plenary session to share ideas.
The ideas generated included the development of an Improvement Tool Kit that could be deployed to each site joint committee. The JGHSC has agreed to continue developing the tool kit drafts to be finalized later this year before implementation.
Other topics discuss at the meeting included leadership development and contractor management. The leadership session focused on the credibility and visibility of leaders and how to develop their role in the site joint committees. Training and education was a major theme of the discussion about contractors. Nearly half of the fatalities that have occurred have been contractors.
Rob Johnston, Executive Director of IndustriALL Global Union, said, “The safety leaders from unions and management alike have demonstrated a strong desire to improve safety performance. The meeting will help to foster a stronger health and safety culture and improve site joint committees.”