Zero Accidents is 'Hefty' Goal of Pactiv Corp.

At the company where a popular brand of plastic bags are manufactured, the "Pactiv Attitude" includes an emphasis on safety performance.

By Sandy Smith

The 16,000 employees at Pactiv Corp.''s 73 facilities worldwide have an attitude. Not just about the products they manufacture, which include Hefty brand bags as well as other types of packaging, but about safety as well.

Part of that Pactiv Attitude, as it is called within the company, is this: "We are committed, as a company and as individuals, to safety." At a company that stresses performance, the emphasis is not only about delivering business results, but about delivering them in the right way, says Lisa Foss, vice president of Communications for the company.

"Safety is a top priority," says Jim McHenry, CIH, CSP, director of Health and Safety for Pactiv. "Everyone is responsible for safety. Zero accidents is our goal and we work to achieve that goal through the continuous improvement of our safety programs, processes, employee awareness and personal accountability."

CEO Richard L. Wambold kicks off every quarterly employee meeting with a safety update and reminder. McHenry says safety is "part of the company''s cultural principles, not just a ''bold-on'' effort." Wambold''s Chairman''s Safety Awards are much sought after by Pactiv facilities with outstanding safety accomplishments, and 10 locations have been named to OSHA''s Voluntary Protection Program.

Safety, like all other aspects of business performance at Pactiv, is measured. Safety metrics are in operations managers'' performance agreements. Clear, direct safety metrics are tracked and shared with each operator at the company, along with other productivity and quality measures. Operations leadership meets quarterly to review "Safety Scorecards" for each facility, and safety improvement strategies are discussed with McHenry. All capital improvement projects must have safety approval before being implemented.

Employees are directly involved with safety management in three ways:

  • Employees perform or are involved in hazard assessments, area inspections and work observations to identify hazards and promote safe work behaviors.
  • Hazards that have been identified by employees through inspections, assessments and observations are evaluated and corrected.
  • Incidents and near-misses are reported by employees and investigated to identify causes, minimize losses and prevent re-occurrences.

Sidebar: Safety''s a Cinch

Key elements of Pactiv Corp.''s occupational safety and health program include:

  • 1.) Safety policy and rules are communicated and enforced.
  • 2.) Employee involvement in the safety program is promoted and recognition is provided for individuals and team safety performance.
  • 3.) Employee and contract employee training is conducted prior to potential exposure to work hazards, and safety skills training is provided to line managers, supervisors and team leaders.
  • 4.) An annual "Safety and Health Plan" defines and formalizes safety improvement programs and processes.
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