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No matter what job you do or how long you’ve done it, there is nothing like a good pair of safety eyes, said Doug Lehman, a UAW Local 647 member in Cincinnati.
“Safety eyes are a way of looking at things. No matter if you have been doing the same job for 15 years. Safety eyes mean you look at things in a different, safer way,” said Lehman, the first-shift safety committee chairman at GE Aviation.
UAW members and management at GE Aviation are making safety a priority and making sure workers get a chance to get those safety eyes through training sponsored by the UAW and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“It’s a way to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to staying safe on the job,” said Gary Jordan, Local 647 president and chair of the GE unit. “We want to make sure that we all respect safety and get our members to retirement safely.”
At GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, UAW members develop, machine, build and test aviation and marine engines in a 7-million-square-foot facility on 500 acres near Cincinnati in Evendale.
Local 647 represents about 1,000 members in the GE unit. Members build engines such as the GE90, which is designed for the Boeing 777 and holds the world record for 127,900 pounds of thrust.
The plant also produces the LM6000 engine, which is said to be the most fuel-efficient simple-cycle gas turbine in its size class. It is used on offshore platforms in marine environments. Engines are also built for cruise ships, military aircraft and other commercial airplanes.
GE Aviation hosts safety training about three times a year that provide participants with information on OSHA regulations, working in confined spaces, accident reporting and recordkeeping and ergonomics. About 150 Local 647 members have completed the 30-hour training and received safety certifications.
When workers use their safety eyes, said Jordan, they are better able to protect eyes and hands while machining and assembling jet engines, guard against falls whether they are from 48 inches off the ground or 16 feet up, and maintain safe distances from moving equipment such as forklifts.
Some of the trainings, with 50 to 75 taking the classes, include participants from Cincinnati-area employers such as Ford Motor Co., Buckley Mfg., General Motors, International Automotive Components, Miller Brewery, GE Erlanger and the Evendale Fire Department.
“Having other companies participate also provides a huge opportunity for everyone to share best practices from other industries,” Jordan said.
“Our expectation is safety on all levels,” Lehman said. “Management is equally aware of that, and we all demand that our workplace be the safest it can be. That makes for a good combination.”
Said Jordan, “The most important thing is that we all work together to keep safety elevated to its highest levels.”