Saturday, May 6, 2017

"was his duty to make sure everyone escaped..(40 lived)"

During our plant tours around the globe we on occasion are asked to speak to supervisors or foremen about safety related topics. During our speeches we talk about responsibility. We explain that with their position as supervisor or foremen comes with a responsibility. That responsibility has two faces; production and safety. We explain that some in attendance have refused accepting responsibility. They want the additional pay but not the responsibility. Bluntly we tell the audience whether or not you accept the responsibility it is yours once you take the position. Those under you will watch your every move. Do you wear safety glasses and hearing protection as required or do you not? How can you expect those under you to follow the rules when their supervisor does not? That responsibility extends to emergencies. Here is a recent story of a foremen who acknowledge his responsibility and 40 workers are safe because of it.

The third shift supervisor at Muskegon Casting says there was an explosion and, in what seemed like seconds, the plant was full of flames.

The factory in the Port City Industrial Park on Sheridan Drive was also full of workers when the fire broke out late Tuesday, March 14, 2017.

He is the supervisor, so Mark Houtman says he knew it was his duty to make sure everyone escaped.

He went to work stations, lavatories and break rooms rushing everyone out. There were about 40 employees inside, and Houtman says he didn't leave until they were all safe.

“I would say it was between a minute and a minute and a half to when the fire actually started to the time I got everybody out,” recalls Houtman. “I turned around and I was totally engulfed in flames. And we did good. No one got hurt. No one went to the hospital.

"God was watching out for us.”

The fire at the automotive parts plant started just before midnight Tuesday and burned until late Wednesday morning.

The owner says he will rebuild and none of the employees will lose their jobs. Investigators are still looking for the exact cause of the fire.

We normally would not mention the company name. But this story in particular we feel can be used as a training tool in our industry. We feel that the company nor workers did anything wrong and we hope by publicizing this story we'll bring no unwarranted attention to this company. That is never our intention. This particular supervisor and this company should be commended on the safe evacuation of the personnel. Sadly we know of numerous incidents where workers were unaccounted for during evacuations and perished in the aftermath. We are so very proud that this supervisor and this company are in our industry.

The supervisor stated that he heard an explosion upon leaving his office and knew immediately that an evacuation should occur. Within 90 seconds he ran throughout his workplace making sure everyone was accounted for. 90 seconds is not very long. Does your plant have a time goal on safely evacuating your plant if an emergency occurs? If not why not. This plant was engulfed, and we mean engulfed in flames with 90 seconds.

This posting can also be used to train workers on the importance of following their training. The supervisor said that he prevented workers from going to collect their personal belongings before exiting. We shake our head at that. When an emergency evacuation occurs workers are to follow their directions and immediately head for the exit and the meetup or rendezvous point. Never ever go back for your personal possessions. Ever or you could lose your life and risk the lives of your coworkers and the firemen searching for you. 

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