Employee magazine feature for CHEP written by Richard Stewart



CHEP facilities in the UK & Ireland made outstanding strides in safety performance in FY08, thanks to an intensive safety training program and a total team effort to identify warning signs in the workplace that present potential for injuries and incidents. The person leading the Zero Harm effort in the UK & Ireland is Hugh Kempton, OSHE Manager, who splits his time between a dozen plants and several office locations in a quest for continuous improvement.

“We took our Standard Operating Procedures and simplified them so they could be understood at all levels of the organization, across the network. Then we trained people to them,” recounts Hugh. The SOPs were translated into the languages of non-native English speaking employees, who were also counseled in any cultural differences that could affect safety. Each plant employee in the network received, on average, more than 11 hours of safety training.

Safety performance improvements in FY08 included 66% reduction in Lost Time Incidents (LTI) to 3 and 64% reduction of LTI Frequency Rate (lost-time injuries per million hours worked) to 7.3. The LTI Severity Rate (lost work days per million hours worked) dropped 97% to 2.7. Also, the Brambles Injury Frequency Rate, a new metric which combines LTI, along with European metrics of modified-duty and medical-treatment incident rates, was reduced by 25% to 14.7.

The most dramatic change in FY08 was seen in the frequency of Near Misses reported – an increase of 343%. A Near-Miss Reporting System tracks unsafe behavior and conditions that present potential for harm. Also, a Behavior Observation System encourages peers at the shop floor level to observe and challenge each other in the interest of safety, Hugh relates.

Near-Miss Reporting was portrayed as an opportunity to look for warning signs and sort out problems before harm occurs. “We asked the guys to provide input to make sure that we pick up on every issue, close it down properly, and be certain that it cannot happen again,” he says. “We wrote an easily understandable SOP on Near Misses and how to report and resolve them. Then we focused on improving communications internally.”

Safety audit scores were shared throughout the network. People in each plant could see everybody else's scores and measure themselves against their colleagues. “The pressure was to make sure that you weren't going to be at the bottom, and you'd like to be at the top. We tried to engender buy-in, empowerment and commitment from the shop floor to plant management,” he explains.

As a result, performance improved not only in safety, but also in quality and cost, according to Fernando Rodriguez, VP Plant Operations, CHEP Europe. “Hugh Kempton has done a fantastic job of putting the tools in place and working with plant management to develop the right approach to achieve safety excellence,” observes Fernando, who previously was Director, Plant Operations, UK & Ireland . The strong focus on daily management systems and instilling a different mindset towards safe behavior are keys to the success, he feels.

Hugh expects near misses to start down over the first half of this year, plateau over the third quarter, then continue down during the last quarter. “That will tell us that the corrective actions we've made have been right and that we're creating the Zero Harm environment that we know we need to have.”

Fernando feels that the only way to get top results at a site is to work in a safe environment. “The safest plant will be the best in cost and quality,” he says. “Our Zero Harm journey has been a long one, but we're seeing results – fewer and less severe incidents. And the best news is that we expect the results are going to be maintained. “We have put the foundations in place for consistent results in the future.”