Employees at a meeting on hand safety received foam baseball mitts
Employees at a meeting on hand safety received foam baseball mitts

Taking Safety to the Next Level, with Gamification and More

How heavy transportation manufacturer EnTrans transformed its safety culture across 11 plants in six countries.

EnTrans International is the parent company of Heil Trailer, Polar Tank Trailer, Polar Service Centers, Kalyn Siebert, SERVA and Jarco. Our company experienced rapid growth over the last few years and now operates 11 manufacturing facilities and 28 service centers in six countries.

As brands and locations were added to our portfolio, EnTrans was faced with the challenge of creating a consistent culture of safety that aligned our entire network. While we had a safety program in place, it lacked engagement by operations personnel. Facilities were in a reactive mode rather than taking proactive measures to address safety risks.

Determined to develop a more effective safety program, our Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) team conducted employee interviews and surveys to identify personal attitudes about safety. The team also researched behavior-based safety tools and error reduction programs that could help EnTrans become more proactive. A review of current metrics and data reporting found only lagging indicators were being measured, such as injuries. Leading indicators—such as training, internal auditing and the implementation of behavior-based tools—also needed to be measured.

Using the research results, a company-wide safety program called Safety Matters was developed. According to Jake Radish, president of Kalyn Siebert, the program gives employees “a framework, tools, training and technology that empowers them to change how they work, how they identify and fix potential issues and increase overall safety awareness—all with the goal of creating a 100% injury-free workplace.”

Adding Gamification

EnTrans plants were already competitive with each other in the areas of production and quality, so the program built upon that spirit by incorporating game-like elements to engage employees to take ownership of their personal safety and that of their colleagues. Those elements include a points system, monthly and annual rewards and visual aids.

EnTrans facilities compete to earn the most points in eight categories ranging from safety improvements to training, metrics and inspections/audits. The facility with the most points at the end of the year wins the overall Safety Matters award, which includes a display plaque, an all-employee lunch, employee giveaway and a drawing for monetary prizes. Locations that outperform in the established safety categories and also earn high scores on the company’s safety culture assessment earn the CEO’s Award for Safety. Facilities new to the EnTrans family have an opportunity to be recognized for their strides in safety with the CEO’s Most Improved Award.

In addition to annual rewards, the Safety Matters program is tied to a monthly bonus system. To receive productivity, quality, efficiency and delivery bonuses, facilities must earn 70% of the eligible safety points each month.

When Safety Matters was first introduced, our facilities were barely earning more than 26 of the 36 points they can earn in the program. Today, most locations average between 30-34 points per month.

Visual Reminders

EnTrans plants use visual aids to engage employees with safety. Each location displays life-size cut-outs, on which are marked injuries that occur throughout the year. For instance, in 2017, the Safety Matters theme was NASCAR, so facilities had cut-outs of NASCAR drivers posted in locations in the plant where injuries had occurred. Bandages on the figures represent the locations of injuries. The cutouts provide a constant visual reminder and keep safety at the forefront.

To create the safest work environments, EnTrans uses advanced technologies and processes. “Some of the technologies we use have been adapted from other industries,” explained Derrick Healey, director of Environmental Health & Safety at Polar Service Centers. “We attend their safety conferences to see what issues they’ve experienced and the solutions developed that could be applied at our locations.”

For example, we use the Blackline Safety system, originally developed for the utility and railroad industries to maintain communication with employees working in remote areas. We use it for confined-space communication because it allows attendants outside a tank trailer to talk and text with workers welding inside. The messages are monitored off-site, and as an added measure of safety, team leaders and supervisors also monitor them.

Another technology used at tank trailer manufacturing locations is the Man Down Alarm, which protects employees who weld inside the tanks. An alarm sounds if a team member hasn’t moved within a set time and notifies those outside to provide immediate assistance.

Baby boomers prefer to learn in ways that are different from millennials or those of other generations. And, as an international company, EnTrans has employees who may have the ability to fluently speak a language different than their own, but prefer to receive training in their native tongue. The company recognizes these differences and provides safety training in a number of languages and delivery methods. The blended-learning training program that includes web-based and instructor-led training, videos and BYO L&L (Bring Your Own Lunch & Learn) webinars for managers, safety leaders and supervisors.

Boosting Buy-In

When Safety Matters began five years ago, each EnTrans facility was given the autonomy to introduce the program to their employees. The level of program buy-in during the first year varied among plants. However, after the first year revealed injuries decreased at facilities that fully embraced the program, support from management across the entire network dramatically increased. Additionally, shop-level employee participation increased after the awards for the first year were distributed.

The company invests $50,000 per year in the program to build awareness and provide rewards. Any new equipment and tools to support safety improvements are in addition to this amount. Time is spent monitoring the program and working with the various management teams to develop training and implement new tools and programs.

That time and monetary investment has paid off. Since the inception of the Safety Matters program, EnTrans facilities have achieved:

  • A reduction of more than 50% in recordable injuries
  • A reduction in Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) from 6 to 2.1 (industry average is 7.32)
  • Industry recognition at four EnTrans facilities that received Plant Safety Awards from the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA

Doug Chapple, CEO of EnTrans International, said, “We have seen a drastic increase in employee engagement at all levels of the organization since Safety Matters began. This achievement is the result of our ongoing commitment to safety, to building advanced manufacturing facilities and to creating a culture of safety using fun, engaging techniques.”

As with any company or industry, safety is an ongoing focus. Each year the Safety Matters program evolves to allow new tools, training and processes to be incorporated. With this continued advancement of the program, safety has become part of our culture as employees actively take part in helping EnTrans achieve its goal of an injury-free workplace.

Karen Czor is the director of Environmental Health & Safety for EnTrans International.

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