Dubuque Works' safety record is the result of sound processes, management support, ongoing communications, and employee engagement.
Fourteen million hours. That's how much time John Deere Dubuque Works had logged without a lost-time accident at the end of fiscal year 2012. The milestone represents the number of consecutive hours worked by full-time and contingent employees without incurring an occupational injury that resulted in days away from work.
It's the kind of performance that has earned the construction and forestry equipment factory a reputation as one of the company's top safety performers, year in and year out.
Dubuque Works' record is the result of sound safety processes, management support, ongoing communications, and employee engagement – all aimed at eliminating injuries on and off the job.
Among the factory's key safety processes:
- 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 safety concerns that employees have. At Dubuque Works, CI boards in work areas show the status and details of projects and who is responsible.
- A "red tag" process that ensures new and transferred equipment is thoroughly reviewed and set up appropriately from an ergonomics standpoint and there aren't any safety issues or concerns before it is put into service.
- Ergo Days, during which engineers collaborate with production employees to improve the ergonomics, or design, of employees' work and workstations.
At Dubuque Works, factory leaders sit on a safety management team that gets together every month to set goals, review policies, and look at initiatives that could improve safety. They also start many meetings at the factory talking about safety, including all-employee meetings.
Workers that make products like backhoes, crawlers, skid steers and track feller bunchers have designated safety leadership teams that meet bi-weekly to address safety concerns. Each team typically includes a mix of supervisors, engineers, welders, and assemblers.
The factory also has a weekly safety newsletter, reviewed during employee meetings, and mandatory monthly safety training sessions with different topics each month for all wage and salary employees. Furthermore, employees are routinely recognized for strong safety records, as well as for coming up with ideas that could improve safety.
Dubuque Works' commitment to safety remains top-of-mind for employees and visitors thanks to a 7,000-lb. boulder sitting inside a factory entrance and covered with hundreds of signatures. The boulder is part of a larger safety display and represents one of the factory's most successful training programs, Safety ROCKS (Realigning Our Culture through Knowledge of Safety). Employees who completed the program signed the rock and committed themselves to working safely.