Gerdau employee, Bartow resident receives national recognition
by Matt Shinall
Nov 14, 2010 | 3523 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Matt Moore
Matt Moore
Matt Moore prides himself and his employer, Gerdau Ameristeel, on their commitment to safety standards. That commitment was recognized earlier this month with a national award for safety.

The Association for Iron and Steel Technology awarded Moore with the Don B. Daily Safety Award for his research and presentation on "Leveraging Near Misses Into Improved Performance."

"It's very humbling to be recognized by my peers in the industry and certainly by the AIST, which is by far the most recognized technical organization in the steel industry," Moore said, attributing much of the success to his coworkers who aided in the project. "In our industry, Don Daily was a very important person, a very strong leader in the area of safety. So to receive an award is important and humbling but certainly to receive it with Don Daily's name on it is even more so."

Moore is the environmental manager at Gerdau's Cartersville facility; his research has lead to safety practices being implemented that have already shown improvements. The basis of his project is putting an emphasis on 'near misses' to prevent accidents.

"To define 'near misses' is to define an 'almost accident,'" Moore said, including examples such as dropping or spilling something but not being hurt. "Sometimes, employees, or all of us really even at home, would kind of excuse that and walk away from it without a whole lot of looking, without a whole lot of searching as to 'Why did I drop that? Why did I spill that? What can I do to stop that from happening?' Because in many instances, the potential of an event like that can be very serious and what we want to do is, through near misses, find out what the potential is and treat it as though it reached its maximum potential."

Moore began his research more than two years ago and has since spread the practice of studying near misses throughout the corporation. Previously, he held the position of safety coordinator for North American Operations before moving back to Cartersville to spend more time at home with his family in Adairsville. Comparing near misses to the indicator light in a car, Moore explains how these warnings can be used.

"In the sense of safety, near misses are very much like those indicator lights, but oftentimes companies or businesses or organizations fail to identify those indicator lights, they fail to look into them," Moore said. "Many companies don't put the effort into doing it and what we've found through our work at Gerdau is that the world class companies do. They spend time looking at those things and really developing a system so they can react when that indicator light comes on."

Gerdau has to date collected tens of thousands of near miss incidents that were self-reported by employees so that the circumstances may be looked at in detail.

The Cartersville Gerdau steel mill experienced a great loss with the July 23 death of Lewis "Bill" Leary. An engineer for Gerdau, Leary was struck and killed by a forklift at the Cartersville facility. Reflecting on this, Moore described how the accident has motivated their recent efforts and brings a personal reality to the need for proper safety initiatives.

"That was a very unfortunate event, but that is the motivation not only for myself but also for the safety professionals to drive forward on projects such as this one," Moore said. "There's a whole host of other projects and activities to really dedicate and continue to refocus ourselves to make sure that each person, every day goes home safely.

"Sometimes we use generic terms: incident and accident and injury. But what we're really talking about is people right here, people we know, people in our community and our churches, people that participate in sporting events and their kids are working next to us. We're talking about preventing those folks from getting hurt -- we need to make it personal and that's what we're trying to do."