Prevention Through Design is a program initiated by Tyson Foods to address the goals of making sure processing equipment is safe for employees to operate, maintain and clean before it is purchased and installed in the plant, reported Karen Thompson, area safety manager, corporate EHS services, Tyson Foods Inc. She told the audience at USPOULTRY’s Processor Workshop in Atlanta that the ultimate project objective is “to design and build equipment that is cleanable and safe for team members.”

Cross-functional team

Thompson said a team with representatives from safety, quality assurance, manufacturing services, and purchasing was formed to gather data on equipment standards and develop standard equipment guidelines. The data on equipment standards was drawn from industry and consensus guidelines.

The team referred to sanitary and safe equipment checklists from the American Meat Institute and the National Turkey Federation/National Chicken Council/ USPOULTRY. She also said the team referred to standards developed by OSHA, NIOSH, ANSI, ISO and other organizations.

After the relevant information was gathered and evaluated, Thompson said the team developed a checklist to be used for evaluation of equipment.

Communicate, persuade and motivate

Once the checklist had been developed, Thompson said that the next step was to deliver to plant operations and communicate the expectations for safety and clean ability for new and existing equipment. Teams within each plant were tasked with evaluating existing plant equipment with the goal of preventing injuries. She stressed that it is important for people conducting the reviews to take their time and not rush through them.

Thompson said Tyson has reached out to equipment manufacturers and shared the company’s checklist with them. IPPE provided an opportunity for Tyson personnel to meet face to face with the equipment vendors and discuss the dual concerns of worker safety and clean ability.

Part of continuous improvement

The Prevention Through Design program hasn’t been in place long enough for specific improvement in safety results to be attributed to it, Thompson reported, but she said it should become a part of the continuous reduction in work-related injuries  the company has experienced in recent years. When asked if any older equipment had to be retired as a result of findings of the review process, Thompson said, “No.” She explained that Tyson has some really talented fabricators and that they have been able to create guarding solutions for equipment that doesn’t interfere with the clean ability of the equipment.