Two Unique Triangle of Prevention Sites, Two Different Awards

Both winners of the 2017 Triangle of Prevention (TOP) awards are unique.

Local Union (LU) 912 from PBF’s Toledo Refining Complex in Oregon, Ohio, received the 2017 Fallen Workers Memorial Award for building solidarity and exhibiting collective involvement within the TOP program. The local was one of the charter TOP facilities in the 1990s to see how the program would work.

Local Union 9-675 from the 3M plant in Guin, Ala., received the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award for completing an investigation that resulted in significant improvement. More than 14 years ago, 3M almost shut the facility because of its poor safety record.

LU 912 embedded the TOP program into every union function, from working with the negotiations committee to push forward safety initiatives to bringing TOP issues to the health and safety committee, process safety management and grievances.

The local also earned the award because it successfully secured management’s acceptance of TOP—which ensured the TOP representative’s ability to perform investigations and conduct TOP steering meetings—and the rank-and-file’s trust and participation in the program.

“Our story is one of success brought on by the tireless commitment of generations of union brothers and sisters fighting to improve the working conditions at our facility,” said LU 912 TOP Representative Matt Velker.

Video Sparked Hazard Recognition

At the 3M plant, LU 9-675 TOP Coordinator Milton Simmons showed a Chemical Safety Board (CSB) video during a TOP hazard awareness refresher training. After watching the video, a local union member realized that the hazard shown was present in his plant, too.

The TOP investigation team, composed of trained workers and staff, conducted a near miss investigation, and followed the CSB’s recommendation in the video to correct the design and engineering system of safety failure.

Simmons said the TOP program involves everyone in the plant.

“Our safety culture is throughout our site and goes from the shop floor to the manager’s door,” he said. “Even managers—including our plant manager—will turn in near misses because they know TOP works and that what is turned in will get fixed.”

Union and member-created and –driven, the TOP program focuses on incident prevention through application of the seven systems of safety—design and engineering (most effective), mitigation devices, maintenance and inspection, warning devices, training, procedures and personal protective equipment.

Incidents are investigated; near misses and incidents are measured and tracked; and recommendations are made and followed through.

The USW Tony Mazzocchi Center (USWTMC) administers TOP, provides training and creates the training materials. More information can be obtained by contacting TOP Program Coordinator Steve Doherty,, 412-562-2561 OR USWTMC Program Administrator John Scardella,, 412-562-2582.

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