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1,600 accident-free days at thyssenkrupp rothe erde USA Inc.

How we achieved a positive safety culture shift in the last couple of years

Here at thyssenkrupp rothe erde USA Inc., located in Aurora, Ohio, we have experienced a noticeable positive safety culture shift over the years relative to a heightened awareness of safety at all levels within our operations.

This has led to over 4 years (1600 days) in the Aurora Bearing Plant and close to 2 years (700 days) in the Aurora Ring Rolling Mill since any last recordable accident. We like to think that this is a major accomplishment for any manufacturing operation and are certainly proud of all our colleagues who have met the challenge relative to safety awareness. An attitude of caring that is driven from top management, along with providing employees with the necessary skills and tools to operate in a safe and healthy manner, further drives a culture of ownership and participation across an organization and ultimately translates to fewer unwanted incidents along with healthy environment.

In having discussions with some of our associates regarding the safety culture and what from their perception has continued to drive this, we have received some interesting observations and comments. The seniority of our workforce is pretty diverse ranging from 40 years to 4 years. They have different perspectives as well as stories from where we have come to where we are now. Overall, the sense is that we have considerably improved many processes and procedures over the years to promote a safer work place and environment. As in most operations over the years to hear stories of  the old practices and what was acceptable at that time compared to the evolution of safety improvements now was and continues to be enlightening.

 

Communication is key to enhance safety at work

Some of the key points that have been noted by our employees regarding our safety evolution is the communication we have brought forth as an organization through weekly meetings, our near miss program and how we have continued to make improvements through acknowledging that the safety culture is everyone’s responsibility. This open and persistent communications relative to safety has been a primary driver. A simple example would be the reporting of incidents such as near misses and at-risk behavior or the willingness to cooperate with management in ensuring a safe and healthy working environment.

Communications coupled with changes of how our safety committee has been structured and evolved has also helped in a more productive and collaborative approach for increased awareness and accountability. In addition, the commitment by management for necessary investment relative to improved safety measures has most certainly been well received by the workforce.  

 

We asked our employees about occupational safety

When asked the following key questions relative to our safety culture the employees had a chance to reflect directly and provide their perspective and input:

  1. Is the company providing you with the sense all requirements are being satisfied including improvement activities to minimize wastes and recycling?

  • “I believe the company strives toward environmental consciousness.  Current policies In regard to recycling and waste management will greatly impact our future. I.E. the implementation of L.E.D lights at the Aurora campus saves energy thus reducing the carbon footprint and overhead costs.  There are cardboard, paper and plastic recycling receptacles available to employees. These units are utilized frequently, although an initiative to raise awareness to recycle would significantly reduce trash output."

 

2. Over the past years, do you feel these measures above have facilitated safety improvements improving your workplace?

  • “The focus on safety awareness in the Aurora Bearing Plant has improved significantly.  With the implementation of near miss cards, employees have the ability to identify and report potential Dangerous/Hazardous situations. This direct line of communication reduces response time, which in the past would have taken much longer to resolve a situation.  The near miss cards have had a positive effect toward the efficacy of the safety program.”

 

3. What is your opinion on growing this culture and the support received from the company?

  • “I think the companies renewed interest in the well being of its employees, is not only refreshing but paramount to the success and growth of the business.  In light of the Pandemic over the past year the company has done very well abiding to CDC guidelines protecting the workforce. This change in culture is continually evolving.  We must continue to work together to not only meet expectations but exceed them.”

  • “In my opinion, the company has changed the culture of safety and employee health/wellness tremendously. Management holds a weekly meeting that always begins with a message about safety. Safety supplies are easily accessible to all through the use of Fastenal vending machines. With the use of near miss cards, we are able to communicate safety issues to supervisors in a timely manner and in turn, those issues are addressed in a timely manner. With the ability to use stop cards, we are able to stop an employee on the spot from doing something that might get them injured. The integration of light-weight, battery operated tools has contributed to better ergonomics in the work place environment and the comfort and long-term health of employees.”

     

Implementing occupational health & safety for the sake of compliance is not the answer.  Care about the wellbeing of your work force and your operations is. Otherwise, ‘for the sake of compliance’ your safety culture is not where it should be.