The Kloeckner Memphis branch reached an important safety milestone. They have gone two years without an accident and still counting. At over 730 days accident-free, they shattered their previous record of 427. To celebrate, the whole team went for a day at the ballpark to watch the Memphis Redbirds. Everyone also received certificates and commemorative t-shirts.
“It boosts morale,” said Plant Manager Jimbo Walton. “If you don’t have good morale, then you are going to lose everything. You are going to lose your safety, your quality, and your production. If you don’t take care of your guys and boost their morale, then everything we have achieved so far would turn around.”
Creating a safe work environment didn’t come overnight. Every morning in Memphis starts with a safety toolbox meeting. Additionally, there are monthly safety meetings, and also individual training for every member of the team. Walton believes that going to individualized training instead of doing it in a group setting has made a big difference.
“You don’t get the safety focus on the individual when you are in a group setting,” Walton said. “Before it was more of a class setting with multiple people. Then you get the class clown in there that is playing around and he distracts everyone away from the safety topic.”
Memphis has been using the SafeStart program for over a year now and has completed five units. The SafeStart program is a safety training program used by many Kloeckner branches. It helps create a safer work environment by making employees more safety conscious and reducing human error.
“SafeStart, I think, is getting everyone more apt to looking for the line of fire,” Walton said.
This month, Pedro Ambros was named SafeStart employee of the month. Usually, it is based off a SafeStart story which the steering committee selects, but this month employees voted on who they thought was the safest person in the plant. Ambros was chosen by his peers not only for his safety but also his ability to help others stay safe.
“Pedro comes out of the break room with all of his PPE on and wearing it properly and he keeps an eye on his fellow teammates,” Walton said. “He is just an all-around safe guy.”
The Memphis team has really put safety as the number one priority, and that has made a huge difference. Where production used to come first at times, now safety is always before production. Even if the sales department comes with an order that needs to be filled immediately, safety still remains at the top of everyone’s mind.
“We have to protect our people,” Walton said. “That is why safety needs to be number one. If you don’t protect your people, you aren’t going to keep them.”