Incident Sharing Is For Those Who Want To Do Better

There are many compelling reasons to join the ranks of those companies that are sharing safety incidents.

Beginning last year, GAWDA’s Safety Committee rolled out an incident sharing program to help member companies improve safety and reduce the expense and down-time that go hand in hand with many accidents. Through the program, members can share accidents and safety incidents that occurred at their companies to prevent the same thing from happening at another member company.

Why You Should Share

Placing cylinders in a basket without securing them with a primary strap is incorrect, as is stacking them on the valves of other cylinders.

Networking is frequently cited as one of the greatest benefits of GAWDA. The incident sharing program is a form of networking centered on safety information. The sharing of this information between companies helps keep everyone safe.

Experience is a great teacher, but it’s a luxury that young employees do not have. New and inexperienced employees have much to gain from safety training. In his outline of the incident sharing program in Welding & Gases Today, Safety Committee Chair Kelly Bladow says, “It is our hope that the sharing of these incidents will not only help members be aware of the fundamental safety procedures of their daily work, but teach a new generation of young employees the essential skills required to be safe in our operations.”

However, age and experience alone do not keep a person safe. One of the best ways to keep employees safe is through training, training and more training. Says Bladow, “These incidents make great safety meeting topics for your company.” In other words, a driver is likely to pay close attention to cylinder strap training if he knows that another driver recently broke his femur and missed three months of work because he failed to inspect the straps on a group of cylinders. Using real-life accident stories and photos can bring an incredible sense of urgency and realism to safety training.

No Need to Worry

Often companies can be reluctant to share the details of incidents that have affected their companies and employees. Indeed, there are many reasons a distributor could be concerned: “Will sharing an incident make me look bad to my customers?” “Will it make my employees look bad?” “Will publicizing an accident draw the OSHA/DOT inspector’s attention?” “Will my employee be upset or embarrassed that I shared an incident?”

These are legitimate concerns for any organization. Thankfully, with GAWDA’s incident sharing program, they are not ones that members need worry about. “No company names or employee names will be revealed, and the story will be sanitized in order to hide identifiers,” says Bladow. All incidents are anonymous, and can even be submitted anonymously.

Any shared incidents are for members only, so they won’t be seen by your customers, agencies or the general public. Incidents are published in GAWDA’s Safety & Technology Organizer, found under the password-protected Members Only Publications section on the GAWDA website.

To share an incident that happened at your organization, or if you have any questions about the program, email to GAWDA Consultant Mike Dodd at

Photos show examples of the incorrect use of one strap to secure smaller cylinders.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association

Incident Shared – Lessons Learned

While tightening a web strap on a group of cylinders on a truck, the strap broke. The driver lost his balance, fell and broke a femur, resulting in 90 lost workdays and over $100,000 in Workers’ Compensation costs. The driver had over 30 years in the industry.

The investigation revealed the following:

  • New straps were available in the facility.
  • Drivers had never been trained in the proper inspection of web straps.
  • Management had solely relied on drivers to determine the serviceability of straps.
  • Management had no accountability for straps other than to purchase as requested.

Action Steps

  • Drivers are now trained on strap inspection.
  • Training is done periodically to maintain awareness.
  • Management periodically inspects the straps to ensure they are replaced or repaired as needed.