As for Safety, 'It Drives Down'

Here's a company with the right approach.

SUCCEEDING at safety is easy, if you follow the formula used by managers and workers at Louisiana-Pacific Corp.'s Engineered Wood Products plant in Golden, British Columbia, to achieve 1 million hours without a recordable injury on June 19, 2006.

"What I've told other plants at other companies is, the first thing they need to have is the commitment from their company--the very top," said Bryce Piggot, plant manager. "We can all say 'I don't want anybody to get hurt,' but our bosses expect that nobody's going to get hurt. So it drives down."

There you have it: the key to safety excellence, free of charge. But it isn't that simple, said Piggot and Lee Jesse, the plant's safety manager and a 24-year employee. The Golden plant has a full panoply of hazards, 350 hourly employees (425 total), and is unionized. Core elements of its safety success include peer-to-peer training, highly trained first aiders, zero-tolerance enforcement of lockout/tagout, entanglement and safety eyewear policies, a good return-to-work program, and more, they told me.

The plant's SEE Observation program (See, Evaluate, and Educate) requires supervisors to observe and document at least two at-risk or safe behaviors each day, so they are correcting or praising work behaviors as they happen. Its housekeeping is top notch. Piggot said the hazard near-miss reporting program also is important; people who report hazards are involved in fixing them, such as one worker who created new signage to make the plant's fire extinguishers easier to find. Safety outreach from the plant touches schools through bike rodeos and the community through an annual safety fair.

"We're doing everything we can to engage and involve the employees more and more and more," Piggot summarized. "I think success breeds more success. In the beginning there are expectations that are set, and you work hard through the bumps of people getting used to new rules. You get a very functional safety team, a very engaged safety team. And from that, you plan on doing as much as you can to engage the floor workers. And then, slowly but surely, you get all these little things that just come together. All of a sudden, your first aids have started to go down. Your serious near misses are reducing in number. I believe that people become more and more aware of what we've accomplished, and that causes a constant awareness to make sure they're working safely because they don't want to be the next injury."

Piggot's previous job was at a sawmill. "I came from the old school, thinking: 'We're going to safety ourselves right onto the bread line.' But at both plants I've been at, productivity is actually up," he said. "We're asking people, 'Do not take shortcuts, don't worry about production. You worry about safety of you and the others around you first.' And productivity in every department is actually up."

This column appeared in the September 2006 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

This article originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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