Quincy Compressor: A Small Company with a Mighty Safety Record

The 141 employees at Bay Minette, Ala.''s, Quincy Compressor facility have worked over 3.9 million hours without a disabling injury. That''s nearly 10 years to you and me.

By Sandy Smith

A small company that boasts of having 141 safety engineers. Isn''t that overkill, some would ask?

Not at all, says Keith Shumacher, plant manager at Quincy Compressor, Bay Minette, Ala. "All employees are involved in safety. All managers are involved in safety. We have 141 safety engineers out there," he insists.

The company motto, he adds, is "Everyone is responsible for safety."

"Employees deserve to work in a safe environment and are expected to not only work safely, but to recognize and remove hazards whenever and wherever they are encountered," says Sharon Oenning, the human resources manager at the company. Oenning also oversees the safety and environmental programs at Quincy Compressor, which manufactures rotary screw air compressors and vacuum pumps.

Key Elements

Keith and Oenning attribute the strength of Quincy''s safety program to several key elements. Although many companies have used behavior-based safety programs, near miss reporting, root cause analysis for accidents, auditing, training and recognition, Quincy manages to put a personal twist on of them:

The SafeStart Behavioral Safety program focuses on recognition of situations that can lead to unsafe behaviors. Employees are empowered to make changes or remedy situations they feel are unsafe. They are frequently asked for their input into the safety process. Employees (both salaried and hourly) earn points for completing safety audits of other areas, correcting safety hazards, implementing continuous improvement ideas to improve safety, earning green (good) rating on safety and housekeeping inspection and conducting mini-safety meetings within their teams.

Near-miss incidents are tenaciously reported by all employees and documented by the company.

"I receive a call at least twice a week from an employee or manager saying, ''Come out here and bring your camera,''" says Oenning. Employees and managers alike log near miss incidents, which are posted on the company''s environment, health and safety communications board, covered in safety meetings, and recapped on an annual basis. If the near miss requires immediate action, then the person reporting it is expected to remedy the situation or call someone who can.

Accident reenactments are videotaped if an employee was hurt or there was property damage. "We try to do it right after it happens," says Oenning. "Everybody concerned is involved." The employee who was involved recreates, in a safe manner, the situation leading to the property damage or injury. A senior employee demonstrates the correct behavior or procedure. A manufacturing engineer discusses how the situation could have been avoided; a design engineer offers suggestions for changes; and supervisors give their input.

"We show the videotape to every employee and ask for their input," says Oenning. Through this process, employees and managers are able to get to the root cause of accidents and implement steps to avoid a similar situation in the future.

So far, employees have embraced the process. "Participation has never been an issue," according to Schumacher. "People don''t seem to mind. We''re not doing it to place blame. We want to make sure it doesn''t happen again, and employees trust us. We believe our employees are doing a good job, and they know that."

Auditing is an important part of the safety process at Quincy. Every month, a member of each team audits another team for safety and housekeeping. Employees audit a different team each month, which means salaried employees might audit areas on the plant floor, while non-salaried employees are auditing office areas. This process does two things, says Oenning. It brings a new set of eyes into an area, and it helps educates employees and managers about the facility, the machinery, the products and the work. Plant safety and housekeeping performance are posted on the main EHS board.

Formal training is conducted monthly by Oenning, supervisors or manufacturing engineers. Often, hourly employees who are subject matter experts are asked to share their knowledge with other employees. Team leaders present seven-minute safety training topics.

The safety incentive program rewards safe behavior, active participation in the safety program and implemented safety improvements. Safety improvement and housekeeping improvement bulletins are posted on bulletin boards showing before and after pictures that give employees recognition for their hard work. The company offers a drawing every month for a small cash award. Quincy management believes in "recognition and celebration of achievements," says Oenning.

Conversely, managers and employees are given goals each year and receive a performance assessment based on those goals. Unsatisfactory ratings in safety and housekeeping impact their assessments and subsequently, their merit increases.

The efforts of management and employees at Quincy Compressor have paid off: the facility, which is a division of Enpro Industries in Charlotte, N.C., has reduced injuries by over 91 percent since 1996. In addition, Quincy has donated $112,000 - received as a result of corporate safety awards - to local community organizations.

"In machining and assembly, there are a lot of hazards," says Shumacher. "This is a race with no finish," he says of safety.

The finish line might be out of sight, but the team of employees at Quincy Compressor are running flat out toward an accident- and injury-free facility.

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