By Kurt Liebich, CEO at RedBuilt
At RedBuilt, we are going to attempt to pull our 50 year old Company into the 21st century by actively participating in the world of social media. Collectively, we have learned a lot over the last half century, and we are going to try to share our perspective with all the constituents that have an interest in our business. Hopefully, the information that we share on our site will help you to think differently about how you approach your business. Please provide us with your feedback. Your input and suggestions will help us to continue to improve. In my first blog, I would like to share some of my thoughts about creating and sustaining a world class safety culture.
Today, Redbuilt’s rolling 12 month recordable incident rate dropped below 1.0 for the first time in our Company’s history. This means that for every 100 associates that we work with, less than 1.0 individual will suffer an injury that requires medical attention during the course of the year. Said differently, for RedBuilt this means that we injured 3 associates over the last year. While our goal is obviously “injury free”, I am incredibly proud of this accomplishment. Our benchmark data suggests that this performance is world class for a Company that manufactures structural wood products.
When I first joined Trus Joist in the early 1990’s, we did not manage Safety. In those days, we focused on increasing productivity and lowering manufacturing cost, but our leaders did not spend much time thinking about driving world class safety performance. It was not that we didn’t care for our associates, we did. However, we did not understand the importance of leading and managing safety performance. Safety was not our top priority. This all changed in the mid-90’s, when one of our manufacturing associates in Georgia was killed working on one of our LVL presses. This event triggered a 15 year journey to improve our culture. Every leader and every associate became actively involved.
Throughout this journey, I have learned many lessons. Most importantly, I learned that working safely must become the #1 priority, and it must become a core value of the organization. Like most successful initiatives, safety must be driven by leadership, and it must be embraced and supported by each and every associate in the organization.
Do your employees have a passion for working safely? Do they have the ability to identify unsafe operations and behaviors or are they blinded by bad habits?
When you first begin to implement a safety program, focus on the areas that present the greatest risk to your employees. In my experience, in a manufacturing environment, I would focus my energy in the following areas:
- Lock Out/ Tag Out: Can your associates get themselves inside equipment that can hurt them?
- Confined Space: Are there locations in your facilities that present danger?
- Proper Guarding: Do we have the right guards/barriers on all our equipment?
- Fall Protection: Can our associates fall from elevated locations?
- Mobile Equipment: How much risk are we taking with our forklifts?
In my experience, in immature safety cultures, these are the areas that represent the greatest risk to your associates health and safety.
Today, I think RedBuilt’s greatest risk is in the selling organization. With smart phones and texting, there is a tremendous risk associated with multi-tasking while driving. The next time you get behind the wheel, take the time to observe how many drivers are talking on their cell phone or texting while driving. It is a disturbing trend. At RedBuilt, we have policies that deal with this risk, but I still worry that the temptation to respond to customers will over ride sound judgment.
Creating a world class safety culture is a journey; a journey that never ends.