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The relationship between safety and sustainability

Our number one priority at The C.A. Lawton Co. is safety. When you focus on it as much as we do, you tend to notice how intertwined safety is with other important areas like sustainability. Noticing these connections is very beneficial because it allows Lawton to better integrate sustainability into our everyday work. We want to help you do the same.

“At their most basic level, sustainability and safety are really about the same thing: conserving resources. In the case of sustainability, those resources are typically thought of as environmental. In the case of safety, the resources are human,” explains Mike Taubitz (2010), author of an Operation Health & Safety article entitled, “How Safety Fits with Sustainability.”    

Bob Best, Executive VP of Technical Services at JLL, says “safety equals sustainability… sustainability is all about… initiatives and activities that preserve and protect the planet. But let’s go a step further: Isn’t it really to preserve and protect the people on the planet? That’s what safety is all about, too.”

As you can see, we’re not the only ones noticing this connection. As we focus on the safety of our employees, many times we are also affecting the safety of the environment with our actions. That’s because health is where safety and sustainability coincide, and we’re always focused on doing everything we can to ensure the health and wellness of our employees.

During several parts of the foundry process, such as the mold and core-forming process, the melting process, and when the metal is treated, contaminants are released into the air. To protect the safety of employees and the environment, foundries:

  • Enforce the use of respirators,
  • Implement projects that focus on reducing emissions,
  • Use vacuums instead of compressed air to remove loose dust and sand,
  • Monitor emissions, and
  • Install devices that seize contaminants from the furnace and direct them through a system that regulates emissions.

All of these efforts support employee and environmental health and safety.

Safety and sustainability are also connected because of the type of culture they inspire in the workplace: one of awareness and accountability. They are both ways to engage employees to think about what they do every day, how they do it, and the ways in which they can improve. That’s right, we’re talking about continuous improvement. Reinforcing the importance of safety and sustainability ensures that employees think about it every day. When a large group of employees thinks and takes action every day, small improvements add up and make a big difference.  

Additionally, in an organization like Lawton, where safety is a daily focus, you can use safety as a tool to get employees engaged with environmental safety as well. An organization can’t be fully safe without also protecting the environment in which their workers do their jobs. That directly affects the environment workers and the community lives in. Drawing that correlation really helps motivate sustainable change.

Speaking of sustainable change, foundries in Punjab, West Bengal and Rajasthan are implementing practices as a part of their sustainable foundry development to increase thermal efficiency, according to the website fmc.org.in. These efforts will allow them to greatly reduce the amount of coke they use for fuel.

As a result of their efforts, they reduced CO2 emissions by 60,000 metric tons during the initial project, and estimate that they will reduce them by another 36,000 metric tons per year after that.

The air quality and working conditions for about 2,000 foundry employees will be greatly improved and the surrounding environment and community will also reap the benefits of reduced CO2 emissions.

By focusing on sustainability and safety simultaneously, organizations can tackle key issues on a deeper level and affect greater change in their world and ours.

Works Cited

(2013, May 1). Foundry Health Risks & Hazards. Retrieved from https://envirocare.org/foundry-health-risks/

 (2014, March). Occupational Health and Safety of Foundry Workers. Retrieved from http://fmc.org.in/wp-content/uploads/cluster_develop/Foundry-Review-MARCH-2014-ISSUE.pdf

TaubitzSep, M. How Safety Fits with Sustainability. Retrieved from https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2010/09/01/How-Safety-Fits-with-Sustainability.aspx

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/sustainability/  (2016, June 16). What’s the connection between sustainability and safety? Retrieved from http://greenblog.jll.com/2016/06/16/connecting-sustainability-and-safety/

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