Gardner Denver makes safety its number one priority
April 29, 2014
Before work begins each day in a Gardner Denver facility, the machinist, welders and other production crew gather for the daily “tool box safety” meeting. During this time, the crew goes over jobs for the day and discusses how they can operate safely. Any near misses or other safety issues are discussed in detail to ensure no incidents occur. If a new process is coming online, the safety manager will lead the crew in a step-by-step discussion on how to assess the risks and handle the job safely.
“It’s all about sharing and communicating,” says Whit Theobald, Gardner Denver EHS Specialist. “Gardner Denver is focused on not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. We aim to set the bar and be the gold standard for the industry. That’s from the productivity, to quality of product, to safety, which is first and foremost.”
Theobald says safe work environments start with hiring the right people. From there, all employees go through a rigorous safety orientation that stresses safety comes before anything else. A safety committee performs weekly inspections on key areas including the chemical room, eye wash station and chains and straps. In addition, Gardner Denver strives to provide all of its employees with clean work environments.
“It’s proven that a clean facility is a safe facility,” says Theobald. “When you have nicer, safer machines and tools, the employee morale is better. When morale is better, then safety is better. A happy, safe person is going to produce a better, quality product.”
Gardner Denver relies on its employees to evaluate procedures and give feedback on how to make items safer. All employees actively participate in the safety ownership program. Employees can anonymously fill out behavior-based safety cards addressing an issue they observed. Or, they have the power to address the issue on the spot without repercussion of losing their job. In addition, employees can turn in good behavior cards when they witness an employee taking the appropriate safety steps.
“In order for us to provide a safe environment, there has to be open communication,” says Theobald. “The employees are the professionals. They hone their craft. They are the boots on the ground. They know what is good or bad or what needs fixed. They know what can be done better and safer. We listen to them, and together we strive for zero incidents.”
Recently Gardner Denver launched its Safety Action Register Board to enhance its safety communication with its employees. The board will list safety items to be addressed, a timeline for completion and final outcomes. In addition, the safety committee team members, emergency response team members and a monthly score card are listed. The Safety Action Register Board provides transparency to the employees.
Theobald points out with many Gardner Denver facilities located through the U.S., it’s extremely important that all facilities have an open dialogue with each other.
“If there is a near miss, we’ll get on the phone and say this happened here,” says Theobald. “We’ll point out it could happen to you. You should investigate your facility and discuss with your crew.”
As Gardner Denver expands and increases production, safety will remain the number one priority for the company. “We don’t want our employees to sacrifice safety for productivity,” says Theobald.
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