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Zero Incident Culture: A Continuous Process

“We’re striving to get to the point where we have no incidents whatsoever; no scrapes, no lacerations, no bumps in the head—all those things that can happen on a daily basis,” says James Hefti, vice president of human resources at Advanced Technology Services, Inc. (ATS).

ATS is an international corporation that improves the productivity and profitability of international manufacturers through production equipment maintenance, information technology, and spare parts repair.

Hefti says that the ATS incident rate (any reportable incident) has improved by over 65 percent over the past 4 years. The lost time case rate (employee absence due to a work-related incident) has improved by more than 80 percent.

How do they do it? Hefti says the effort is driven by a culture where individuals put safety first.

Number One Value

The critical component of the ATS plan is making safety the number one value of the culture. “Live Safety” is the value employees are expected to live by at work and at home.

“We even interview job candidates for that value to make sure we’re getting the right people on board,” says Hefti. “Nothing comes before safety—not profits, not customers.”

Safety is also the first topic addressed in employee meetings on a department or worksite level. For example, office safety was discussed at a recent HR staff meeting. Safety at home is also often covered with topics such as ladder safety and safety in lawn care.

Safety training at ATS begins with onboard training and continues through online training requirements. For example, a maintenance technician must complete 12 basic courses, one per month, and depending on his or her job, additional specialized courses and certification. Regular refresher courses are also required in compliance with OSHA standards.

“Safety is a journey you can’t stop going down,” says Hefti. “You don’t ever get to a point where you says you’ve done all you can do.”

Safety a Value, Not a Priority

“You really have to have a culture that believes in safety, and it has to be a value, not a priority,” Hefti points out. “Priorities change and shift from one emergency to the next, and safety gets put on the back burner. It has to be on the front burner before everything else.”

ATS Manager of Safety Scott Stone adds: “You need 100 percent dedication from leadership to get a large-scale home and work safety initiative launched and sustained as a corporation. For us, it’s the highest value. We believe in it; we never let it down; we keep on it day after day after day. It just takes one bad injury to change your life, to end someone’s life, and change a company forever—so commitment it key.”

Tomorrow, we look at another company where safety is an “official big deal.”

Categories: Safety, Training
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  1. July 8, 2013 at 12:04 AM

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