For years, Smithfield has been working to minimise as many risks as possible to their meat processing workers, mainly through the introduction of belt-fed or robotic saws.
They have been able to automate much of their operations, however as with all things, some processes need a human touch. But given the dangerous nature of manual meat processing, injuries occurred from time to time, with Smithfield Foods estimating that approximately $159,000 has been spent on injuries associated with band saws.
After an extensive look at the latest safety technology, including investing in their own research and development initiatives Smithfield Foods made the decision to introduce BladeStop bandsaws onto their line. Scott's BladeStop technology uses a sophisticated sensor system to quickly identify when the operator has come into contact with the saw. The saw is then mechanically shut down within milliseconds of operator contact—a timeframe that can mean the difference between a minor cut and a potentially life-changing injury requiring stitches or even amputation. Smithfield then worked with Scott to customise the saws to the particular needs of their facilities.
After testing one BladeStop™ at their Virginia facility, they went on to order five additional saws for that facility alone. The impact on staff and morale was huge with employees having the following to say:
“Bandsaws have always been a big deal to me,” says John Tignor, corporate director of health, safety, and security. “We are constantly trying to figure out new solutions within our industry.” For Tignor, who has been in the industry for nearly 30 years and has overseen several of the saw safety and research and development initiatives at Smithfield, bandsaw injuries hit particularly close to home. “My dad lost his thumb in a saw injury in 1971, and every time I see him I think of that.”
“The effective BladeStop™ technology used in our band saws has dramatically reduced safety risks and incidents,” says Parul Stevens, Smithfield’s vice president of risk management.
“I really like BladeStop™,” says Derrick H., a saw operator. “The saw requires a glove check and self-test, which reassures the operator that it is operating correctly. It’s a very good safety improvement.”
“We were impressed with the innovative and impactful solution that was created by Smithfield to reduce risk of employee injury and subsequent workers’ compensation losses in its organisation,” says David Snodgrass, assistant vice president of risk control services at Safety National. “We believe that this technology has application beyond Smithfield and look forward to seeing how this can serve as a model for other businesses who face similar risks.”