Four manufacturers that raised the bar on workplace safety

Category: Industry
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Four manufacturers that raised the bar on workplace safety

If you want to know what makes a good safety system tick, look at someone who’s already figured it out. This statement rings especially true for manufacturing. Since the manufacturing field comprises so many distinct industries, trying to pin down a uniform set of rules can be downright time-consuming and painfully ineffective.

Rather than making a list of general guidelines, we researched several manufacturing companies that have implemented award-winning safety policies. These employers are top of the line when it comes to manufacturing safety. Each one has been recognized as a leader and an innovator in its respective field, but it also doesn’t hurt to receive accolades from distinguished safety review boards. Read on to find out what makes these companies safety success stories.

Kimberly-Clark Australia

The manufacturer of paper and personal care products was the 2015 winner in the category of Best Health and Wellbeing Program at the Australian National Safety Awards. Above all, KCA was recognized for its outstanding Early Intervention Program, which is designed to “evaluate the effectiveness of employee health, risk factors for chronic conditions, movement function, injury prevalence, and injury severity.” It’s refreshing to see a modern company take a proactive approach to safety concerns that affect an aging workforce, who are one of the main targets of the initiative.

KCA also uses the “Who’s Counting on You” mantra to keep safety top of mind:

Our ‘Who’s counting on you?’ safety message is our way of reminding our employees that it’s our number one objective to ensure every Kimberly-Clark employee, contractor and visitor goes home safe at the end of each day.

When it comes to safety, KCA doesn’t just talk the talk. Their zero-injury goal sure sounds good on paper, but it really comes to life in their record of achievements. Their most recent sustainability report boasts a 7% reduction in reportable injuries and the lowest injury rate ever recorded across the Kimberly-Clark Australia New Zealand region.


The defense and aerospace giant is the largest company to be awarded the title of one of America’s Safest Companies in 2013. The company’s “Why I Work Safe” campaign contributed greatly to its recognition as a leader in safety. The campaign consists of several initiatives meant to raise awareness of the importance of on-the-job safety, and unlike many other programs, the initiatives are hands-on, interactive, and memorable. Their employee badge program is an example of an extremely successful safety strategy that articulates safety in a way that is personal to every employee:

Employees received a badge with the following message on the back: “Look at the front of this card. There is no task so important that you cannot take the time to do it safely.” On the front side of the badge was a blank photo holder with the heading “Why I Work Safe.” Employees inserted photos of their children, spouses, pets, homes, cars and boats.

Employees were also encouraged to submit short videos about why they work safely.

Nestle Waters Canada

Nestle Waters Canada is the 2014 gold winner of Canada’s Safest Employer Awards in the manufacturing category. For their leadership, a solid record of zero serious injuries or fatalities is essential, but that is just the beginning. The company has also signed on to OHSAS 18001, an international health and safety management certification that requires health and safety risk management and a commitment to exceeding minimum safety standards.

What do they do differently? Nestle safety operatives recognize that the need to work with urgency does mean rushing and skirting around safety protocols. Accessing machines is done through a lockout process, which describes the details of the safety procedure to the employee. Besides being taught safety practices, employees at all levels are empowered to act to improve safety in the organization. One of their more popular initiatives is the Care Card program, which allows reporting of safety concerns:

[The program] encourages employees to fill out a card when they see someone working at risk and use it as a basis for documenting discussions about safety issues to pre-empt injuries. Topics could include untidy spaces that might lead to slips and falls or a new employee using the wrong tool for a job.

USG Corp

USG Corp manufactures and distributes a wide variety of building materials. Their products have been used in the construction of architectural feats such as the Burj Khalifa (currently the world’s tallest building), the Shanghai World Financial Centre, and many others. The secret to USG’s success is adopting a model of centralized compliance. That is, performance on key metrics like training and safety is measured through one key indicator: a safety activity rating (SAR). The SAR is maintained consistently across all locations.

A significant portion of USG Corp’s success comes from the fact that as a company, they are not satisfied with performing at the minimum standard. And the bar is high: their facilities operate between 5 and 20 times better than the industry safety norm. Over one-third of their manufacturing facilities have received a Star designation by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which commits the company to implement safety policies that surpass the agency’s minimum regulations. The company also makes a point to investigate near-miss incidents, using them as a learning experience and a form of prevention. Even their social media profiles exude safety consciousness, which helps present a public image that complements their strong record.

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