Are Waste Elimination and Safety Related?
A deep dive on the objectives and implementation of Behavior Based Safety (BBS) and lean programs reveals a symbiotic relationship between waste elimination and safety in manufacturing. We consulted Dina Manoway, Director of Business Processes at Victaulic, to help connect the dots between lean and BBS programs.
Connecting Behavior Based Safety and Lean Principles
Constant improvement requires constant analysis, so metrics are critical for both BBS and lean efforts at Victaulic. BBS uses metrics to determine how and why safety incidents occur. After a safety incident occurs at Victaulic, supervisors meet with employees to help track and analyze the root cause of the unsafe behavior. The data is tracked and added to our database. The data we collect from these incidents help to actively identify the most frequently occurring behavior deficits causing employee injuries. Activities, observation, and training can then focus on common unsafe behaviors to drive their elimination.
Lean uses metrics, including the Facilities Excellence Mapping (FEM) program, to ensure that programs are on-track with waste elimination. Regular, scheduled analysis of data from our facilities provides the foundation for the potential lean improvements and allows waste elimination in all facets of business processes. “With lean, we make an effort to really look at the data and make informed decisions,” said Dina Manoway. “Both programs look to analyze and tackle the root cause of problems.” Collection and utilization of data are the foundation of a successful waste elimination or BBS program.
BBS and lean concepts help companies stay ahead of the curve with risk, and eliminate hazards before they become an issue. At Victaulic, “Problem Solving and Mistake Proofing” has been taught as part of the lean skillset since 2002. This skillset helps employees identify potential hazards before they become more costly. BBS programs also focus on transforming unsafe behavior into safe behavior before an incident occurs. When prevalent unsafe behaviors are identified, observation and training is focused on these specific behaviors. Observers provide immediate positive reinforcement when safe behaviors are observed, and point out any choices that increase risk of injury. This immediate feedback is essential to changing employee behaviors before an unsafe action occurs.
The teamwork element of both lean and BBS is key to the success of both programs. Waste elimination and BBS programs are clear ways to show employees that the company cares about them – about their safety, about their productivity and about their workplace organization. “We actively engage employees in lean initiatives, allowing them to identify and eliminate waste in their workplace,” said Manoway. “Both safety and lean programs let employees look out for each other.”
Continuous improvement of employee morale is also a core facet of both lean and BBS efforts at Victaulic. “Hazardous, poorly organized environments have a measureable negative effect on productivity and employee attitude,” said Manoway. “People take more pride in their work when they work on safe, organized jobsites. There is less frustration, because they know where their tools are and they know they’re safe.” Both BBS and lean concepts show employees that the company truly cares about their opinions and their safety.
The bottom line is an important consideration in both lean and BBS efforts. Eliminating waste (activities that do not change the fit, form or function nor add intelligence to a process or service) obviously will assist in cutting costs for manufacturing companies, while avoiding safety incidents also saves time and money. These activities serve to boost the productivity of a manufacturing plant, and help employees feel engaged in actively improving their surroundings and behavior.
“Your team is the core of your work,” said Manoway. “They should be with you for a long period of time, so you have to take care of them. Whether that’s educating employees on BBS, or eliminating ergonomically poor working conditions, you can demonstrate that you value your employees, which in turn helps maximize productivity.”
While the connections between BBS and waste elimination initiatives may not be clear immediately, they are linked – and together, the programs can save your company time and money while bolstering employee morale.
As we continue celebrating National Safety Awareness Month, Victaulic will be sharing our safety strategies. Make sure to check-in throughout the month of June to learn more about our journey to world-class safety excellence, and be sure to read Safety Secrets 1: Workplace Safety Basics and Safety Secrets 2: Driving Purposeful Change.
William D’Amico, Director – Environmental Health & Safety