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America's Safest Companies: Safariland LLC

Nov. 11, 2013
“If you’re really going to make a change, you have to go where the boots meet the ground, where they actually have the knowledge of the day-to-day nuts and bolts of the operation. [Plant-floor associates] are the cheapest consultants you could hire.” – Patrick Ross, director of safety, health, environmental, security and risk management

For Safariland LLC, 2008 was a watershed year. In the midst of a companywide reorganization, the Ontario, Calif.-based manufacturer of law-enforcement gear decided to recalibrate what had been a disjointed and compliance-based EHS program. Safariland hired its first corporate EHS director – Patrick Ross – and began laying the foundation for a safety culture grounded in employee empowerment and engagement. 

"If you're really going to make a change, you have to go where the boots meet the ground, where they actually have the knowledge of the day-to-day nuts and bolts of the operation," Ross says. "[Plant-floor associates] are the cheapest consultants you could hire."

From the start, Ross was on a mission to create as many opportunities as possible for employee participation. He launched safety committees ("our first organized effort to solicit employee input to improve safety in our facilities") and developed a risk-assessment process called the "Red Zone." 

Building on those "cornerstones," Ross and his team have added a number of other mechanisms that encourage associate involvement, including near-miss investigations, environmental-impact assessments, morning exercises, weekly toolbox training sessions, biannual town-hall meetings and the "Go-Yield-Stop" employee observation program. 

As employees have stepped up their participation in EHS initiatives, Safariland's lost-time-injury rate has declined in lockstep – from a rate of over 6 in 2008 to a rate of zero in 2012.

The injury rate, however, is just one of four key metrics that Safariland uses to evaluate the success of its EHS program. The company combines its injury rate with measurements of employee participation (each site has a goal of 75 percent associate involvement in EHS activities), risk assessments and near-miss investigations to calculate an overall EHS score. The score plays an integral role in determining the annual bonuses for plant-floor workers, managers and executives.

Safariland LLC
Ontario, Calif.
1,384 employees/5 sites/8 EHS
professionals (5 full-time/3 part-time)

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