Setting up processes and procedures is a major step. The program should be tailored to the specific area. For instance, you don't want to have a NASA-oriented FOD program at a small aircraft maintenance facility — it simply wouldn't work. You want to make sure that you look at the guidelines, NAS 412 (please see sidebar), and determine what you can pull out of that document, to create your own plan. In tailoring the program, for example, in the area of tool control, you would need to decide what type of tool control would be necessary.
It's important too that there is a process owner — somebody willing to take charge of the program, maintain the documents, and work with the team. In many companies, the FOD program is run from the Safety Office.
Gaining employee involvement is essential for a successful plan. FOD prevention is a program that has to be supported from the top down; and it has to be worked from the grass roots level up. It's important to instill program ownership to the employees. Our program is a success because we have a strong base of employee involvement. It's important that problems be presented to employee teams — the people who work in our manufacturing areas are smarter about working in our manufacturing areas than anybody else. So, we want to make sure that those people have the opportunity to say how they would improve things in that area based on their experiences. Soliciting observations and solutions from those people is very important. It's essential to recruit key players from all areas of your operation. You want enthusiastic people who want to do this, to be involved.
Education and awareness are the keys to a good FOD program. Annual training for everyone is something that is essential. At least remind people once a year with some type of formal training about the key elements of the FOD prevention program. Training is a formalized process and new people should be trained in FOD awareness right away. There's lots of help available and NAPFI has an extensive video library and will send people videos upon request.
People like incentives. Try to award things not so significant that they are fought over. Boeing gives items like hats, T-shirts, coffee mugs, with FOD prevention themes on them. People are nominated by their peers and awards are given at crew and staff meetings. Each year carries a different theme and the 1999 theme is "Clean As You Go." FOD prevention however, is ongoing, it's a campaign. A yearly theme, we've found, has been a good way to keep the message in front of the people. Boeing also has a mobile FOD display, displays with found items, and posters to promote FOD awareness.
Maintaining a program
While themes, displays, newsletters, and awards are good for keeping personnel focused on FOD, Swanburg offers things technicians can do to help to maintain the program.
• Follow the area FOD procedures and work to a "clean as you go" ethic. Clean after each job or operation to ensure that the area is FOD-free.
•Report lost tools or lost items—anything that they notice that is not there at the end of the day. It's very important that people are praised for coming forward to report missing items — if they feel threatened by that, you won't hear anything.
• Be accountable for the tools used — whatever is taken on to the aircraft, must come back and they need to verify that before they close an area, that the area is FOD-free. Boeing technicians actually designed and implemented a tool control program by developing a "shadowbox" arrangement for their toolbox, an idea borrowed from the military, for tool storage. A contoured space exists for every tool to help ensure accountability. Going further, when an employee begins their shift, they acquire a ring of tool checks for the tools they will need that day. When a tool is removed from the box, a tool check is placed in the open space created — there is one check per tool necessary for the task. At the end of the day, checks and tools should balance, no empty spaces in the tool drawer and a full ring of checks is turned back in.
• Securing loose items prior to and during the entry onto an aircraft is essential. Sometimes technicians go into areas that are very small. They need to be sure that anything — loose change, badges, pens, and pencils — be removed from their pockets so that it does not fall out and become FOD. Even pins from safety glasses, if they are not locking pins, can fall out and become FOD.
• Perform daily visual inspections. FOD walks — inspections of the areas around the flight line and in the hangar, should be done by management and technicians, together. These walks are significant in a couple of ways. First, it cleans up the area. Second, it promotes that picking up FOD is everyone's responsibility.
• Employees should be involved with management to eliminate FOD. This is essential in a FOD program. Employees should feel comfortable in talking with management about FOD and in working together to combat the problem.
• Developing a constant awareness of FOD by keeping the message alive through posters, newsletters, incentive programs, etc., is an important step for maintaining success in a program.
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