While it may be a cliche, it’s not far off to describe the workforce at Semco as a family. Many of us have worked together for years (or even decades), we all share a common purpose and interests, and we look out for one another. As we’ve outlined before, when working in graphite industries (or any heavy manufacturing industries), safety must be a top priority. The work environment can be a safe place, but workplace safety most certainly doesn’t come about on its own. Graphite manufacturing involves powerful machines, heavy blocks of raw materials, extremely high temperatures, and a host of other conditions necessary for producing graphite components for our clients. While rules and regulations are firmly in place to keep our shop floor employees safe, a truly effective (and we mean 100% effective) workplace safety strategy requires buy-in from the employees themselves. That’s where the family nature of our company comes into play.
Every month, Semco convenes its voluntary Safety Committee, a three-person committee made of employees who sign up for at least a one-year term. On the second Wednesday of each month, the Safety Committee meets to discuss new health and safety concerns, review policies addressing existing health and safety concerns, and reviews all safety related incidents, injuries, accidents, and illnesses occurring since the last committee meeting. The committee then discusses corrective actions to address these incidents. Our Safety Committee volunteers take their role very seriously -- it is the health and safety of their friends, colleagues, and even of themselves, that they are charged with protecting.
The Safety Committee’s role goes beyond reacting to unexpected hiccups that occur on the shop floor and front office. In addition to the meetings described above, the committee also performs proactive health and safety inspections around our graphite manufacturing facility. During these walk-throughs, the committee members identify and eliminate potential safety issues they encounter. To ensure continuity of strategy with the next set of members, the Safety Committee keeps careful records of all incidents and concerns they identify on their department inspections.
Developing strategy is perhaps the committee’s most important role. Through surveying employees on their walk-throughs, looking through past incident reports, carefully inspecting the facility, and meeting to share ideas and concerns, the Safety Committee is able to determine safety trainings that are needed to help maintain a safe work environment. The committee makes these recommendations to management yearly as they perform their reviews of all company health and safety policies. We believe the model our Safety Committee has developed for ensuring workplace safety is a gold standard for companies working in graphite industries.
It probably goes without saying that 2020 has been a busy year for our Safety Committee. Responding to the health threat posed by COVID-19 was quite a challenge. Our committee stayed on top of governmental recommendations and helped implement our effective cleaning and distancing policies that allowed our shop floor and office to remain safely open through the crisis. The committee really went above and beyond this year. After all, it was their work family they were looking after.