EuroKera North America’s (EKNA) safety process could be subtitled, “removing obstacles to safety,” because that’s exactly what the company does. In fact, management and employees are so good at it that EKNA’s experience with behavior-based safety was included in a book written by Judy Agnew: Removing Obstacles to Safety.
Removing obstacles means never bringing them into the facility in the first place, according to management. The company’s EHS Policy states that no equipment will be purchased or installed without doing a safety evaluation on the equipment first. When EKNA added automation equipment to the kiln, the equipment did not go online until a full risk audit was conducted, including a voluntary inspection by the South Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“Safety is a key indicator and critical to our success,” says President Bill Mountain. “We spend as much time with our coworkers as our families. Having a BBS program where we look after each other rather than being mandated from the top down is how we have been successful in reducing the number of incidents.”
Mountain is being modest in giving all credit to the employees, according to QEHS Supervisor David Andrews, According to him, Mountain takes a particular phrase from the EHS Policy to heart: “The president is responsible for the EHS program at EKNA in order to prevent accidents and damage to company property.” Mountain takes the time to send handwritten notes and gift cards to employees who have a 100 percent daily participation rate in the company’s BBS program.
“It doesn’t cost money to take the time for safety and to recognize safe performance,” says Andrews, when asked how such a small company manages to stack up so well against some of the powerhouses named as America’s Safest Companies.
In addition to the BBS program and efforts to bring equipment< online safely, EKNA over the years has focused on two areas of concern: lockout/ tagout and noise.
Lockout/tagout – The LOTO program has over 150 individual documents. All of the LOTO documents have pictures of all the lock-out points for that specific piece of equipment. When EKNA revamped the LOTO program, the company conducted daily LOTO audits for 6 months to verify that all impacted employees not only were competent, but also compliant. When the South Carolina OSHA consultant came in to review the LOTO program, he called it “worldclass,” remembers Andrews.
Noise – Noise reduction has been a main focus at EKNA, with a stated goal to eliminate the need to wear hearing protection in any area. Currently, the company has eliminated the requirement for hearing protection in four production areas and is working on the rest of the facility. Such attention to safety does not come cheaply, Andrews admits. EKNA has spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to reduce noise levels by purchasing quieter equipment, properly maintaining equipment to remove rattles and bangs and dampening noise.
“Safety is a way of life and is embraced by our associates out of choice,” says Dawn Scott, vice president of human resources. “We have zero tolerance for unsafe behaviors in our glass plant in much the same way one does not accept drinking and driving. Carelessness puts us and members of our work family at risk.”
EuroKera North America accepting their awards at the American Safest Company awards ceremony at The Ritten House in Philadelphia, PA.
Read about this years America’s Safest Companies Winners
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