Safety Stretches

Safety Tips and Strategies

Safety Stretches
Stretching during the pre-shift safety meeting

Safety Culture at Kloeckner

Kloeckner Metals is committed to the safety of its employees. Of course, it is one thing to say that, and quite another to show it. That’s why Kloeckner has implemented a variety of programs and processes to ensure that employee safety is always at the forefront.

“We have a moral obligation to keep our employees safe,” said Rick Gruca, Director of Safety, Health, Environmental and Sustainability at Kloeckner. “It is the right thing to do.”

In order to keep employees safe, Kloeckner is working to create a safety culture at all levels of the organization. The SafeStart program is one way Kloeckner is creating this safety culture. Another critical component is encouraging workers to look out for one another. When a person sees someone doing something unsafe, they need to speak up.

“We’re human and we all make mistakes,” Rick said. “Our hope is that if I’m getting ready to do something stupid, my colleague is there to prevent it, to say something.”

As an extension of employees looking out for each other, close-call reporting is one initiative that has already shown great promise in driving safety culture. A close call is basically a near-hit or an “almost” accident. It is any incident where an employee engages with a hazard or risk, but the behavior doesn’t lead to damage or an injury. The idea is to address the close calls before they become more serious. The first part is the reporting, and the second part is taking corrective action. In addition to implementing a new incentive program, it has been important to change the mentality from a blame-mentality to a learning mentality in order to encourage more close-call reporting.

“A lot of people were not reporting close calls because they felt that there were going to be negative consequences,” Rick said. “What we are really trying to do is hear about every single one of those and not blame anybody, but learn from those and take some action.”

Another new initiative that is having a large impact is having pre-shift safety meetings. During the meetings, employees talk about safety as well as review any close calls that were reported the previous day. Employees also stretch and get physically ready for the day’s work.

“It has a lot to do with engagement,” Rick said. “That engagement is with the supervisors and managers out on the floor, doing these pre-shift meetings, and showing their commitment to safety.”

A monthly safety review call with managers is also improving safety at Kloeckner. The calls include participation from Rick, senior management at the corporate office (including the CEO and COO), and all of the branch managers. During the calls, all of the previous month’s accidents are reviewed. The branch managers discuss who had the accidents at their branch, what happened, what led to the injury, what kind of injury it was, and what steps were taken to prevent it from happening in the future. Often other branch managers will have experience with similar accidents and they will share what they did to address them.

“Our CEO, COO, and EVPs, they are the ones who are driving it and facilitating these monthly accident review calls,” Rick said. “I like to say that safety is top-down driven, but it is also from the bottom up. A lot of impact has come from our operations group. I really need to give them a lot of the credit for that. They are really the ones who are driving engagement with employees. They are doing these pre-shift meetings. It was actually their idea to do it.”

So far, the new safety initiatives are having a measurable impact. After the changes in the close call reporting system went into effect, reported close calls went from around 18 per month to 700 in the fourth quarter of 2018. During that same time period, there were zero lost-time accidents, compared to 59 in the first three quarters. The ultimate goal is to get accidents down to zero. Instead of talking about safety first, it should be safety always.

“It should just be part of what we do,” Rick said. “Everybody says that employees are the greatest asset of the company, right? This just proves it.”

Some Helpful Safety Tips:

  • Look before you walk
  • Make sure your eyes are on the task, whatever the task may be
  • Watch where you step
  • Keep your hands off of material
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Use proper personal protective equipment
  • Communicate hazards to those in management
  • Come to work prepared to do the job
  • Minimize distractions
  • Keep your mind on the task
  • Self-Trigger when in a potentially hazardous situation
  • Don’t leave forklifts up when they are parked
  • Develop overall safe behaviors and habits
Christopher Myers
Safety Stretches
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