Morin Actuator: Less Than Zero

When you don't have injuries, the trick is not to become complacent.

When everything is perfect, it's easy to become lulled into a sense of complacency. That is what Brent White, EHS manager at Morin Actuator in Pelham, Ala., is trying to avoid.

The 77 employees at Morin Actuator, a Tyco Flow Control company that produces pneumatic and hydraulic quarter-turn actuators, don't get injured. Therefore White is forced to go beyond zero injuries as a goal and to measure safety performance by a whole new standard. A standard for America's Safest Companies is to go beyond OSHA compliance; Morin Actuator does that and then some.

“Our company views safety as an integral part of the business,” says White. “We review each process for safety hazards and identify ways to improve potentially hazardous activities. We view safety as good business.”

Well, that's not so different from how many companies view safety, he's told. “Our concern for safety also extends to our products. Morin Actuator's quality policy includes the requirement to provide its customers with a safe product and as a result, our products are engineered using a man-safe design,” adds White.

MANAGEMENT OF CHANGE

Because not all manufacturers put their products through as rigorous testing as that conducted by Morin for its produces, White says Morin utilizes a formal management of change process that is triggered when new or modified equipment, facility changes or new materials are introduced. As part of that process, employees and management perform ergonomic assessments and machine guarding surveys. Often, he said, employees suggest adding additional machine guards beyond those provided by the manufacturer of the equipment or suggested by OSHA.

For example, White said the facility added band saw that has large jaws that hold the cylinders being cut. The hands and bodies of the employees operating the machine are nowhere near the saw blades or the jaws holding the pipe, but an employee — thinking outside of the box — discovered a hazard. As the saw's parts moved to perform the cutting process, it created a pinch point between the jaw holding the cylinders and a pole in the facility. The company placed guarding around the pole to discourage people from walking between the pole and the machine.

“Employees have taken ownership of the safety process,” says White. “They've seen that if they bring an issue up, that management takes it seriously and they trust management to fix the problem.”

REWARDS

Incentives — including lunches, hats, t-shirts and other items — have been given to employees for obtaining desired safety audit results, team participation and for demonstrating program knowledge. In addition, safety is included in all employees' performance reviews and bonus plans. Employees have been recognized for their efforts in maintaining a successful safety program in local newspapers, on the corporate Web site and at company meetings.

Awards are given on a points basis, with points earned for successful safety and environmental audits, participation in surveys and training and closing out items found on the compliance audit.

Incentives also are given to employees for completing a wellness self-assessment and for participating in wellness activities. Blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol screenings are offered to all employees, along with flu vaccinations.

The foundation of safety success at Morin can be summed up by something White wrote in the company's application for America's Safest Companies: “The success of our program is reflected by a change in focus, from ‘What is the least I can do?’ [to be in compliance with OSHA and EPA standards] to ‘What is the right thing to do?’”

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