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Leaders in the manufacturing sector know that safety correlates positively with overall business success. They also know that safety in the workplace goes beyond simply complying with regulations. At Bonduelle Fresh Americas we’ve found that the key is to build and maintain an organizational culture that highly values safety from the C-suite down to the frontline, and continuously drive behavior to reinforce that culture.
"Supported by data and analytics, organizations can literally change the conversation with employees by pinpointing their positive behaviors and reinforcing the behaviors they want to encourage"
Fortunately for those of us working in organizations that prioritize safety at the highest levels, digital technology continues to improve to empower us to double down on what we call a behavior-based safety model. Many off-the-shelf solutions today are more affordable, more flexible and more customizable than ever before. This enables leaders to monitor, track and analyze safety data to not only mitigate unsafe behaviors, but also reinforce positive behaviors and, ultimately, improve outcomes.
Going back decades in the manufacturing space, the interface between supervisors and frontline employees in regard to industrial safety occurred mainly around an employee’s non-compliance. But with technology providing the ability to capture so many modes of employee activity, the interactions can shift for the better. We all know that younger employees – particularly Millennials and Generation Z – respond better to positive reinforcement. Supported by data and analytics, organizations can literally change the conversation with employees by pinpointing their positive behaviors and reinforcing the behaviors they want to encourage.
Two examples help illustrate this paradigm shift.
Inexpensive, off-the-shelf software is available that runs on iOS and Android mobile devices to enable supervisors both to conduct safety inspections and make behavior-based safety observations in real time throughout any facility. This not only eliminates paper-based forms, but more importantly improves compliance and accountability on the back end by making data available for analysis by safety, operations and other teams.
If a supervisor identifies a problem on a scheduled inspection or via an ad hoc observation — ranging from a blocked fire extinguisher to an employee missing a piece of protective equipment — he or she can record it, take a photo of it, assign corrective action and immediately upload the data via the cloud. This information also is aggregated immediately so leaders can spot trends and make proactive decisions about addressing unsafe conditions or talking with individual employees, groups and departments about unsafe behaviors before they become larger problems.
A supervisor can also note and record employee activities that support a culture of safety. Again, organizations that truly lead in safety tend to think beyond a check-the-box mindset of simply complying with regulations. They also stress going above and beyond by reinforcing their own best practices that safeguard their people, customers, equipment and facilities. With these best practices literally coded into software on a mobile device, supervisors can highlight individuals and groups that exhibit positive behaviors, leveraging data to highlight them as models for others in the organization to follow.
Another example involves wireless fleet management technology. Obviously these systems have been in use in fleet vehicles on the road for many years. Today they can also be very effective in improving safety and operations in powered industrial trucks (e.g. forklifts and pallet jacks) within manufacturing facilities. Many powered truck manufacturers offer these solutions integrated with their vehicles.
Even people who work in the manufacturing sector but do not spend ample time on a shop floor or in a warehouse may not realize how dangerous a powered truck can be. Even a small forklift can weigh more than 5,000 pounds, heavier than a midsize SUV. Keeping operators and the people around them safe is a critical component of any safety program, and wireless fleet management technology can play a critical role.
These systems track vehicles in a facility in real time via a wifi network, monitoring speed, acceleration, impacts, distance traveled, number of lifts performed and other parameters. Of course, this enables supervisors to track for safety non-compliance, but also frees up their time because the technology can limit vehicle speeds.
Moreover, vehicles can be configured to react in a specific way based on these parameters. For example, a low-g impact can trigger an email alert to a supervisor or the safety team, who can address the situation with the operator at the end of the shift. Whereas a high-g impact can both shut down the vehicle and alert the supervisor/safety team for an immediate response and to restart the vehicle, if appropriate. In my experience, successful implementation of this type of solution has been known to reduce impacts by as much as 70% to 80%.
On the back end, collecting and analyzing information enables teams to collaborate to proactively address safety issues. For instance, data showing vehicles adversely impacting the floor in a specific area can be a sign the surface is deteriorating and should be repaired.
And, again, data can be examined to pinpoint the organization’s desired performance by operators. Those operating safely and efficiently should be praised and held up as models for their peers.
Safety and operational efficiency. Those truly are two critical factors to manufacturing success. In Bonduelle Fresh America’s experience, these types of digital tools can not only drive both safety and operational efficiency, but also show through hard data how they positively correlate. And that creates a winning formula for leading organizations.