Blog | August 12, 2019

Lead Battery Industry Celebrates OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week 2019

Members of The Doe Run Company Maroon Mine Rescue Team, from left to right: Nathan Setzer, Steve Setzer, Jarred Tackett, Andrew Hampton and Jacob Piatt.

“Go home safe everyday” is the mantra of the lead battery industry. With that in mind, many of our industry’s manufacturers, recyclers and suppliers, including Battery Council International (BCI) members, are again proudly participating in Safe + Sound Week, August 12-18, 2019.

Organized by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the annual nationwide event recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information on how to keep America’s workers safe. Last year, more than 2,700 businesses committed to raise that awareness.

In the Spotlight: Four Participating BCI Member Companies 

The week-long focus on safety gives companies an opportunity to identify special programs within their organizations and recognize employees who go above and beyond. The Doe Run Company, East Penn Manufacturing, Crown Battery and Gopher Resource are among the BCI member companies participating in Safe + Sound Week 2019.

The Doe Run Company

Missouri-based The Doe Run Company is using the week to recognize milestones in workplace safety and mine rescue achievements, explained Steve Batts, Doe Run vice president and chief operating officer.

“We encourage our employees to take an active role in sharing ideas and implementing new programs that minimize safety issues. As a result of our safe work practices, several of our sites achieve important safety milestones year after year.” In 2019 alone, Doe Run’s Sweetwater Mill achieved 22 years without a lost-time accident, and its Mine No. 29 achieved nine years without a lost-time accident. In total, 10 of its operations have achieved multiple years without lost-time accidents.

The company’s mine-rescue teams have also had an impressive year. The teams compete in mine rescue competitions annually to keep their skills sharp, in the event of an underground emergency. Doe Run’s Gray Mine Rescue team won the title of Overall Contest Champion at the Northern Mine Rescue Competition in New York; the Maroon Mine Rescue team won the same title at the Southwest Regional Mine Rescue Contest in New Mexico. Companywide, Doe Run employees participated in more than 30,000 hours of training in 2018, including extensive health and safety training. This focus on training has helped Doe Run’s facilities reduce the total case incident rates (TCIR) by over 32% since 2015.

Crown Battery

Privately owned Crown Battery emphasizes ongoing safety training throughout the year, and is always looking for new opportunities for people to learn, and to be sure that they are learning. This year, for Safe + Sound week, the Fremont, Ohio, battery manufacturer has developed a unique program that gives every employee a chance to learn, and the potential to earn extra cash while doing so.

They’ve developed a series of eight quizzes on safety topics ranging from Fall Protection to Forklift Safety and Hazard Communication, topics they cover in new employee orientation and their annual all-employee Training Day.  As employees operate within the company’s facilities, they’ll see special Safe + Sound Week posters with QR codes that can be scanned with a mobile phone to access the quizzes. Each completed quiz with a passing score automatically enters the employee into a raffle for a gift card. Completing multiple quizzes earns additional entries into the prize pool.

Jim Anderson, Crown Battery’s health, safety, and environment manager, explains, “Safety is one of our core values and an organization-wide effort. For Safe + Sound week we wanted to create something a little different that makes that learning fun, and maybe even a little competitive.”

East Penn Manufacturing

East Penn Manufacturing, operating battery production and recycling facilities in Berks County Pennsylvania, will recognize employees who exhibit exemplary safe-work practices and proactively train new employees on healthy work behaviors. Each of the company’s Safety Committees will select an employee who provides help and information on safe work practices to new employees. To recognize these efforts, a video board in each lunchroom will share photos of the selected employees and their nominators.

Gopher Resource

In Minnesota, national lead battery recycler Gopher Resource is implementing a new program called SafeStart. This significant investment in additional safety is driven by the company’s dedication to its overriding core value, “Protecting People and Communities.”

Between its Eagan, Minn., and Tampa, Fla., facilities, Gopher Resource has 16 SafeStart trainers who are in the initial steps of launching the five-module program for all employees. SafeStart doesn’t replace other safety programs or processes, but is layered over existing programs to enhance ongoing efforts to reduce incidents.

The SafeStart concept is simple: When safety awareness is up, injuries are down. The program addresses unintentional human error and critical safety habits, which reduce risk and the probability of injury. The goal is to reduce work-based incidents by equipping employees with the tools necessary to self-trigger to prevent or reduce critical errors both at home and in the workplace. More than 60 countries have used SafeStart and found it to reduce injuries by 30–70% within a short time frame.

The Legacy of Safe, Reliable Lead Batteries

Lead batteries have a long history as the most reliable, safe and trusted technology available for energy storage. For more than a century, lead batteries have been safely and reliably used in industries such as transportation, communication, security, marine, nuclear, medical and aviation.

That same focus on safe use sets the bar high for worker safety, as manufacturers and recyclers strive to continually advance safety practices that protect workers, communities and the environment.

Safe + Sound Week, August 12-18, 2019, is a nationwide event to raise awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs that include management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards. 

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Venkat Srinivasan from the Argonne Collaborative Center

The lead acid battery ... is legendary. We can recycle 95+ percent of [these] batteries all across the world. It's a very safe chemistry, ... [and] we understand how to use it very, very well.

Dr. Venkat Srinivasan, Director, Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science