It's been a long day. You're thirsty. You make your way to the break room to get a cup of water, but the jug atop the water cooler is empty. You reach down to lift a new five-gallon jug when you feel a sharp pain in your back. Oh no!
Pratt & Whitney Environment, Health & Safety policy states that no employee should lift more than 25 lbs. (11.34 kg.) unaided. However, the five-gallon jugs of water typically found in your nearest break area weigh 42 lbs. (19.05 kg.) each.
To eliminate this potential injury risk, Pratt & Whitney is restructuring its contracts with U.S.-based water vendors. Effective immediately at all U.S. Pratt & Whitney sites, water vendors will no longer deliver five-gallon water jugs. All sites will instead receive three-gallon jugs, which weigh 25 lbs. each – a 40.48 percent weight reduction.
Through contract negotiation, Pratt & Whitney is achieving this safety benefit with no additional cost to the company. Going forward, Pratt & Whitney is working to implement similar practices with local water suppliers at company locations worldwide.
Delivery of the new three-gallon jugs will happen automatically. Employees do not need to take any action and there will not be an interruption in your area's water delivery schedule, although they might now come more often depending on your area's water usage. Additionally, water vendors have a standard process to sanitize and re-fill water jugs, so there will be no waste increase from this change.
"Proper lifting is an important part of being safe at work," said EH&S Vice President Mary Anne Cannon. "Eliminating the use of five-gallon water jugs at our U.S. facilities is a large step forward in eliminating potential lifting hazards in the workplace, regardless if you work in a factory or office area. My team and I will continue to look for ways to eliminate lifting and other hazards from the workplace."
Cannon said her team is currently working to reduce the weight of printer paper boxes delivered to facilities, which typically weigh between 40 lbs. (18.14 kg) and 50 lbs. (22.68 kg.)
"I encourage employees to contact their supervisor or local EH&S manager to submit their own idea, or report any unsafe condition," Cannon said. "You can also report it into the EH&S near-hit reporting system."