World Safety Day: GE Continues to Find New Ways to Improve Safety
April 25, 2023
“Read Across”, a safety protocol that is becoming an industry benchmark for improving workplace safety
Weighing more than 300kg and extending six feet in diameter, a gas turbine shroud ring could cause significant injury if it fell on a foot or leg, even from a height of just a couple of centimeters. Luckily, when one of these components did come partially loose from a harness at a plant in Europe and fell 8cm to the shop floor, nobody was injured.
Despite causing no harm, the incident was classified as a potentially severe event and triggered what GE Gas Power calls an environment, health, and safety (EHS) “Read Across.” This safety protocol is not only helping to prevent or reduce similar incidents from occurring elsewhere and causing injury or worse, it also is becoming an industry benchmark for improving workplace safety, said Beyza Kurdoglu, EHS Leader for GE Gas Power in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).
While it’s standard practice for major safety incidents to be investigated to understand what caused the event and what can be done to prevent it from happening again, doing so when no harm occurs is less common.
“What’s innovative about Read Across is that the focus is not on categorizing incidents by level of injury. It recognizes that even when there is no injury or the injury is minor, the incident itself can still provide tremendous learning and opportunities to identify further safety enhancements,” said Kurdoglu, who was speaking on the eve of World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
“After all, while no injury occurred this time, the next time, it could lead to something quite serious.”
Each incident is fully investigated. For example, the shroud ring incident included a sitewide audit of all lifting operations to understand how the next potential failure or serious injury could be prevented. Using a structured approach, it identifies lessons learned and develops appropriate corrective and preventative actions that can be shared.
“We give our approach the name ‘Read Across’ because we are taking learnings from a significant event or potentially severe event that occurred in one location and sharing it globally across other GE Gas Power new unit project sites, service outage locations, manufacturing sites, and repair shops,” Kurdoglu said. The term ‘read across’ means to apply something that is true in one situation to another.
Read Across also is being extended to customers and partners through workshops. “This spreads the culture of safety and expands the impact of EHS on GE Gas Power’s broader ecosystem, with the result of preventing more injuries, saving more lives, and minimizing the number of incidents,” she said.
Read Across is just one component of GE Gas Power’s broader EHS structure that reflects the prioritization of employee safety and commitment to quality, reliability, and on-time delivery.
Other key elements include Life Saving Principles (LSPs) and the Stop Work policy. LSPs have been developed for more than a dozen “high-risk” activities and operations, such as heavy lifting, working at heights, or working with electricity. Each LSP is presented on a single poster and uses pictograms that are easy to see and understand. LSPs provide a clear visual list of safety precautions and reminders. Failure to abide by them could result in serious injury or worse.
The Stop Work policy states that any person on a worksite – not just site leaders or EHS team members – is encouraged to initiate a stop work order if they see something unsafe or even something they think might be unsafe. Embedding this into the workplace culture is an ongoing priority, she said.
“Whether it is Read Across, Stop Work, or any of our other EHS systems, we are putting safety first because we recognize that even accidents where nobody is injured are unacceptable in a company that is committed to building a world that works … safely.” Kurdoglu said.