June is when our thoughts turn to lakes, beaches, and the lure of quality time spent outdoors with family and friends. It also signals the end of school as kids take a break for the summer. But did you know that June is National Safety Month? Learning how to maintain a safe workplace is a year-round requirement and responsibility for us adults. That’s right: school is always in session for safety! At IWCO Direct we continuously educate, evaluate, and plan for the safety of our employees.
The safety industry has a whole alphabet soup of acronyms for agencies, tools, and metrics to help us protect the safety of our employees and our businesses, so let’s go over the ABCs of Safety at IWCO Direct:
A is for Achievement
IWCO Direct has always believed in and focused on safety in the workplace, and we’re proud of our ongoing achievements:
- Chanhassen received the Minnesota Governor’s 2018 Meritorious Achievement Award in Occupational Safety.
- IWCO Direct received the 2018 Envelope Manufacturers Association Industry Safety Leader Award.
- DART rates are at historic lows across our production sites. DART stands for Days Away, Restricted or Transferred and is used to measure company-reported injuries that result in lost time at work. DART is only one of the key indicators we use to measure safety. The national DART average is 2.5 days/100 employees; all facilities are proud to report they are well below that average.
- TRIR rates are also down across the board. TRIR refers to Total Recordable Incident Rate, which is a U.S. metric for occupational health and safety, another of the key safety performance indicators we use. TRIR is based on the number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable incidents per the total hours worked by category.
- There were no recordable injuries in 2018 in our Warminster Mail-Gard facility.
B is for Becoming Safe
While we’re extremely proud of our accomplishments, there’s always room for improvement. IWCO Direct has many initiatives planned or already underway in 2019, including:
- Multiple Safety Kaizens focusing on ergonomics, guarding, and material handling.
- Conducting Train-the-Trainers classes for Machine Guarding, which will be followed by the trainers bringing the safety techniques they learned back to our employees for further training.
- Accountability board and safety cross component of SQDIP. (SQDIP stands for Safety, Quality, Delivery, Inventory, and Productivity, and is a daily process management tool used to provide a visual assessment of operating procedures.)
- Another visual tool is the use of GEMBA walks. GEMBA translates to “the real place” and is an effective part of Lean methodology. The purpose of GEMBA walks is for managers to go to the real place, or production site, to observe the state of the process as well as to encourage communication and trust between management and staff.
- Introducing a safety image/graphic on all cartons that are processed at IWCO Direct facilities to remind employees of careful lifting techniques.
C is for a Culture of Safety
It’s not enough to just talk about safety—we have to follow through on it every day. That’s why IWCO Direct consistently promotes a culture of safety throughout all parts of our facilities by integrating the following practices into our day-to-day activities:
- The Safety mindset begins with the leadership team modeling safe behaviors and reinforcing the importance of following safe work practices.
- We dedicate proper budget resources to make necessary changes (such as extra guarding, prompt and efficient snow and ice removal, installing crosswalk lighting, and safety signals).
- We make safety a primary focus at meetings, strategic planning, and when setting goals.
- We have full-time, dedicated safety leads at each location. (Special thanks to those safety leads, Jeff Harford, Brian Blom, and Greg Bowman for their input on this blog post.)
- We hold monthly leadership safety meetings focused on improvements and awareness of issues and concerns.
Workplace safety isn’t just a necessity for industrial companies—it should be a priority for all companies. Injuries in the workplace have a huge impact; the results can be devastating both physically and to the trust of our employees and stakeholders. The bottom line is that a safe working environment is good for our employees and good for business, too.
From all of us at IWCO Direct and Mail-Gard, we hope you have a safe and happy summer. Class dismissed!
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