Part Two: The Journey to Safety Excellence

As a continuation of our first National Safety Month blog, Victaulic has undertaken a company-wide endeavor to become a world-class safety-oriented organization. From our foundry workers on the pour deck to our receptionists welcoming our customers at the front desks, all Victaulic employees have an expectation of being able to do their jobs safely and effectively each day so they can return home to their families.

In 2016, Victaulic experienced its safest year ever. If your company wants to embark upon a rewarding journey to safety excellence, here are two more key recommendations to help you get there:

To the Letter

Complaint. Compliant. Switching one letter for another completely changes the word.

Similarly, safety excellence cannot be attained without first achieving compliance – every detail matters. Sample regulatory requirements include the wearing and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), machine guarding, training and a multitude of program requirements, like hazard awareness, heat stress, hearing conservation, confine space entry, etc.  Your organization’s requirements will vary, depending on the type of manufacturing facility you maintain, but whatever guidelines and requirements you have, you must create a Safety and Health Management System (SHMS) that addresses all regulatory requirements as well as the plans, programs and policies specific to your organization.

At Victaulic, the easy part was creating the SHMS. The challenge is compliance by all facilities. I applied a simple philosophy learned during my 21-year naval career to help kick-start compliance and standardization: You get what you inspect, not what you expect. Translation: create a “wall-to-wall” safety audit checklist that each activity is evaluated against. This annual audit ensures global standardization, familiarity with and compliance to the SHMS requirements, and provides a scorecard for continuous safety and environmental improvement for each of your organization’s global activities.

Compliance to the SHMS almost always results in a measurable reduction of recordable injury rates. More importantly, it establishes a strong safety foundation for driving future safety improvements.

Once we established our SHMS, we were able to sustain compliance and move toward world-class safety excellence by incorporating a few strategic initiatives:

  • Effective communication up and down the organizational chain of command
  • Driving safety ownership from leadership to management, down to supervisory and employee levels
  • Identifying opportunities to empower and engage employees to further drive safety awareness
  • Celebrating successes to:
  • Further enhance employee morale
  • Instill pride
  • Strengthen employee/management relationship
  • Show that ”management cares”

 

Culture Shift

Winning the hearts and minds of your employees, driving purposeful change, and increasing levels of employee engagement and empowerment are all essential elements of achieving workplace safety excellence. With continuous improvement comes a shift in culture. Bonds of trust develop between management and the workforce. Leadership must continue driving the vision so that the strategies can be adjusted. Benchmarking against other organizations is an essential part of the strategy and a great way to judge progress.

When you succeed in changing the culture, you positively change employee behaviors toward safety.  They start caring about each other; they take ownership of workplace safety. They take these behaviors home with them and employ them in their personal lives. When they see that the organization truly cares about their safety, they want to be part of the change.

So, how do you know their behaviors toward safety are positively changing? How do you determine if they believe the organization cares about their safety? Ask them! Perception surveys are a strong, timely and very effective means to determine if your efforts are bearing fruit. These surveys are indispensable in determining whether or not you have to change or adjust your strategy to continuously improve your safety posture. From a personal perspective, I have had no greater feeling of accomplishment when the survey responses indicated that:

99% of the respondents believe safety is a top priority at Victaulic
98% of the respondents believe that the Victaulic cares about keeping their workspaces safe
99.1% of the respondents believe that Victaulic is a safe place to work

 

How do you know when you’ve achieved a level of world-class safety excellence and you can sit back and rest on your laurels? You don’t. You never rest on your laurels. Remember – this journey has no final destination, just a lot of starts and stops along the way.

William D'Amico

William D’Amico, Director – Environmental Health & Safety

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