When John Deere acquires a business, nothing is more important than working with new employees to establish a strong safety culture.
The goal is a safety-focused culture where employees understand and see the value of safety procedures, and look out for each other.
Step one is identifying what needs to be done to improve safety at a new location. That means seeking out existing hazards, ranking those hazards by their likelihood for injuries, and making a plan to correct them.
When Deere acquired parts business A&I Products in 2010, for example, machine guarding had to be fixed or replaced on more than 200 machines at multiple locations. And, in some cases, fork truck operators required further training and certification to run the machines.
A team that included operations leadership also looked for safer ways to handle some of the 75,000 different parts that A&I manufactures and carries – parts of various shapes and sizes that employees move on the job.
The final step was to establish leadership support for safety, making managers and supervisors safety advocates. Today, safety is first on the agenda at A&I employee meetings.
A&I has implemented several key changes to improve safety, including:
- A new safety orientation program for all employees that includes emergency procedures and the use of personal protective equipment like safety glasses, gloves, hearing protection, shoes, and other job-specific safety gear
- Near-miss reporting, a process for tracking incidents that almost cause injuries or property damage and following up with corrective actions
- SERA (Safety and Ergonomic Risk Assessment), a process for identifying safety and ergonomic hazards and prioritizing work on them
- Continuous Improvement (CI), a process through which teams take action to improve specific operations or processes and address employee safety concerns
- A "red tag" process that ensures new and moved equipment is thoroughly reviewed, set up ergonomically, and that there aren't any safety issues before it is put into service
- Programs that closely manage machine guarding, chemical use, and parts storage at A&I
This focus is showing up in A&I safety figures. In 2013, the unit reported just five recordable injuries, down from 29 in 2010.