Using Milliken & Co., a two-time America’s Safest Companies winner, as an example, Phil McIntyre discussed the nine keys to a successful safety process at the 2012 America’s Safest Companies Conference in Chicago.
McIntyre, director of business development and marketing at Milliken, shared what he called the immutable components to creating a world-class safety program:
1. Leadership expectations and communication. “It makes business sense to improve safety, but if that’s your message, it’s hard for it to resonate down to the floor,” McIntyre explained. Instead, the core message should be “We don’t want anyone to get hurt.” With that said, McIntyre added that by operating safely, Milliken manages to prevent an estimated $17.1 million in income loss a year, which provides a powerful internal argument for safety.
2. Measurements and review. “It’s one thing for a CEO to get on a platform and say safety is a value – you need follow-up and review mechanisms as well,” McIntyre explained.
3. Organization structure. An organization that succeeds in safety must have a strong structure in place, including subject matter expertise and code/compliance/auditing capability.
4. Reporting. To achieve safety success, safety must be front and center – and a top priority – in organization reporting.
5. Standardization. Organizations should be flexible but standardized in their safety efforts. For example, an individual in the work force should feel autonomy to make changes yet stay tethered to standardization, McIntyre explained.
6. Time and dollar commitment. McIntyre broke down the average amount per employee Milliken spends on safety prior to an incident occurring ($1,228) vs. the industry average ($425 per employee). But Milliken’s average cost per employee post-incident is only $253, compared to the $2,533 per employee spent industry-wide. When pre- and post-incident costs are added together, Milliken is paying less overall than others – showing that it’s best to make the investment in safety before incidents, not after.
7. Education. Companies that strive to create successful safety processes must have training modules, code and compliance guidelines and other educational mechanisms in place.
8. Case management. According to McIntyre, world-class safety systems must have solid case management in place from the moment an injury occurs. If handled appropriately, the case management time may be greatly decreased. At Milliken, the average time to manage the case is 6 weeks, compared to the all-industry average of 13 months.
9. Awareness activities. The final key to a successful safety program, McIntyre said, is to keep the work force engaged, always keep safety at the top of mind and to have a proactive focus.
Using these nine ingredients, Milliken has become a leader in the safety arena – and strives to keep improving. “We are always challenging ourselves to find a better way to do things,” McIntyre told conference attendees.