Safety Training Is Serious Business At Vallourec

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ricky Rollins woke up one morning a few days after Christmas in 1995 thinking it was just another day on the job at the steel mill where he once worked.

Instead, everything changed that day when a loose piece of slag struck his head, crushing part of his skull. The accident completely altered his attitude toward safety in the workplace, and he now makes it his business to tell others how important it is to be vigilant, smart and safe on the job.

“Everything we do has a monumental effect, not just for the people in our circle, but the guy beside you and his circle,” Rollins said Tuesday. He is the founder of Indiana-based Ricky Rollins Safety Speeches.

Rollins addressed workers at Vallourec’s operations here as part of parent company Vallourec’s Safety Day — a day set aside when production shuts down across the corporation’s global operations so employees can receive advice and training on safety.

“I was nearly killed,” Rollins said, and noted he was present when another horrible accident nearly killed another worker. “It almost cost a man his life, but it almost cost his wife her husband, and almost cost their three sons their father, just because we weren’t our brothers keeper that day.”

Rollins message is how to remain safe on and off the job, whether it’s paying close attention to one’s workstation or adhering to something as simple as snapping on a seat belt before starting a car.

Rollins, who retired in January from Steel Dynamics Inc., decided to devote all of his time this year to safety education for any industry or business that could use his services. “Most of my contacts are in the steel industry,” he said.

Safety Day is an annual event across Vallourec when the corporation’s 18,000 employees worldwide participate in daylong informational seminars and training sessions, said Kristin Malosh, Vallourec director of environmental, health and safety for North America. Ricky Rollins and Kristin Malosh conducted the company’s annual safety day.

“We take the time out to talk about safety with all of our employees,” Malosh said. “We talk about safety at work and safety at home.”

Risks such as drunk driving and texting while driving are addressed in these workshops, while other emergency procedures such as knowing how to properly operate a fire extinguisher are addressed.

Vallourec Star employs about 500 between its two plants just off Martin Luther King Boulevard. Each shift was to participate in the informational and training sessions yesterday. Employees from Vallourec Star’s sister plant, VAM USA, also took participated.

Vallourec Star’s Youngstown works manufactures pipe and tube used in the oil and gas exploration industry. Business has improved here over the last year since energy companies resumed drilling across the country after a sharp downturn that started toward the end of 2014.

“Something we’re focusing on today is crane safety,” Malosh said. “We use a lot of overhead cranes that hold heavy loads, so it’s really important that our employees are safe.”

Moreover, the premise is to instill a whole attitude and culture in regard to safety that a person can apply to all aspects of everyday life.

Vallourec has held Safety Day each year since 2010, Malosh said, but she emphasizes that the program isn’t limited to one day on a calendar.

“Every day is safety day,” she added. “We really have seen dramatic results and improvements on our lost-time injury rate as well as our total recordable injury rate.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.