Every month, more than a dozen leaders in each Navistar manufacturing plant gather for an in-depth review of the safety progress made over the past month. The main goal of the meeting is simple – make sure Navistar employees return home, every evening, in the same condition they began their day.
“The monthly plant safety reviews are a rigorous deep dive into the safety progress at each location,” said Leon Cornelius, director, Labor Relations. “No safety incident is left without a corrective action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Leon recently joined the Tulsa Bus Plant team for their monthly safety review where they began by walking the plant floor, which is about one-million-square-feet and includes a mile-long assembly line under one roof. On the floor, they visited the site of each incident that month, reviewed it with the group leader and together flipped through a log book with photos of the incident, the corrective action taken and an updated Job Safety Analysis.
Each incident is unique, and the plants often talk with one another to find a solution. Corrective actions taken range from adding Personal Protective Equipment such as a face shield to replacing a cabinet with a new one that has self-closing doors.
Many times, the corrective actions are innovative and address ergonomic opportunities that help reduce the likelihood of strains, sprains and other injuries.
“Ergonomics plays a large role in the safety process,” said Leon. “The top ergonomic projects are tracked at each plant through a points system. Items such as the number of bends or awkward movements receive points, but if a safety incident occurs that an ergonomic project could have prevented, it immediately gets additional points and is bumped to the top.”
The Tulsa Bus Plant began two years ago with about 140 ergonomic projects on its list, and 42 of those have been completed so far. Examples include ramps for loading, conveyer belts for moving heavy items along the line and utilizing an exoskeleton to support the operator’s movements.
Leaders and Operators Taking Ownership
After the team walks the floor, business team leaders report out on recordable incidents, first aids, near misses, ergonomic opportunities and safety concerns from their departments in a thorough presentation and discussion in the office with the plant manager. Questions are asked such as, “Why did the incident occur?” or “Why did the incident cause an injury?”
“When we review each safety incident in the office, it’s important for us to keep in mind that the blame is never on the operator,” said Chuck Sibley, Tulsa Bus Plant manager. “As leaders, we take ownership in the Navistar safety process and ask ourselves what we can do make this a better place to work.”
Operators are also integrated into the safety process and are present at daily safety standup meetings throughout the enterprise. They are also encouraged to voice their opinions through the submission of a T-card.
“Often times the best safety and ergonomic ideas come directly from the operators,” said Chuck. “One of our operators was using a retractable box knife to cut felt. She asked to get a tool that looks like a giant pizza cutter instead. It’s more manageable, less likely to snag or cut her hand.”
Improved Safety Performance
In recent years, Navistar has focused on improving safety performance in our plants, and the monthly plant safety reviews are a key part of this process.
“It has always been a priority to keep our employees safe. The monthly plant safety reviews began as a way to more thoroughly collect performance data, conduct consistent processes across all Navistar plants and hold ourselves accountable,” said Mike Hom, VP, Manufacturing.
Navistar closely tracks Lost Time Case Rate (LTCR) and Injury Frequency Rate (IFR) as key safety performance indicators. Significant progress has been made with decreases in IFR and LTC almost every year the past eight years. In 2017, LTCR saw a 14.5 percent improvement from 2016 and the IFR saw a 12 percent improvement over 2016. Much of this success is credited to the monthly plant safety reviews.
“Numerous improvements are continuously taking place with the intent of standardizing safety policies, procedures, measurements and program implementations, linking all locations as one team,” said Donna Dorsey, chief human resources officer. “Cross functional collaboration has resulted in a One Navistar unified approach to safety.“