Mississippi's largest private employer is improving its safety rules and regulations for the New Year. Ingalls Shipyard officials hope the stricter rules will reduce workplace injuries and keep them off the safety violation list.
A supersized billboard announcing Ingalls shipyard's new and improved safety rules now greets its more than 9,000 shipbuilders.
"We have like 40 some procedures that we totally made sure we revamped them to do what we do, and they actually cover safety, quality, cost, schedule, and it all ties-in," safety manager Johnny Pope said.
Among the changes is the dress code.
"We used to have a zoning process in place, but the zoning process has gone away. People are going to have to wear a hard hat, safety glasses, steel toe shoes and hearing protection the minute they enter their gates. You're not going to be able to get into the facility anymore without that type of PPE," Pope said.
Safety liaison Les Johnson welcomes the change. He represents hundreds of electrical workers at the shipyard.
"I have learned that 60 percent of all OSHA reportable injures nationwide are among those who have been working for their employer less than six months, so we have to put a lot of focus on that," Johnson said.
Ingalls also has medical trailers equipped with first aid supplies setup near several work sites to handle injuries quicker.
"We will assess the injury and gauge whether it is something they need to go to the hospital for immediately, or if we can just deal with it here," shipbuilder Jimmy Wade said.
And another change, the supervisor of the injured person will now go out with a special team to examine the accident site as soon as it happens.
"One thing is we want to investigate every injury, and second thing is what it allows us to do is go correct and abate unsafe conditions," Pope said.
"We are going to be hiring on about 4,000 more employees over the next couple of years. We need to instill in these employees that we need to keep our shipbuilders safe," Johnson said.
Ingalls also has a special council that includes the president, vice presidents, and safety team members. This group meets monthly to discuss policies and procedures at the yard. Again, the new rules go into effect January 7.
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