As we work to reduce our enterprise Recordable Injury Frequency (RIF), there are countless large and small steps we have taken as demonstrated by our progress to date. But even the most dedicated facilities sometimes reach a “safety plateau,” where further improvements become more difficult to achieve. When our Mapleton, Illinois, Cast Metals Organization facility found their safety numbers plateauing at the end of 2012, they deployed facility-wide initiatives to break through to the next level of safety excellence.
In 2015, Mapleton reduced its injury rate by 18.3 percent over the previous year, and injury rates have fallen by 66.3 percent since 2010.
The safety team, aided by the commitment of each of the nearly 600 employees on-site and the Caterpillar Safety Services Zero Incident Performance (ZIP™) Process, undertook a cultural shift in how they address safety, thinking of the program as ‘creating the presence of safety’ rather than ‘the absence of injuries’. Part of this shift involved making the concept of safety personal. An acronym like RIF is not easy to relate to daily work, but seeing and discussing how each injury affects real people in their work and personal life truly drives home the importance of safety. The safety team encouraged this viewpoint by dedicating all-employee meetings to recent on-site injuries and dialogues about how to make safety proactive instead of reactive. In 2015, Mapleton reduced its injury rate by 18.3 percent over the previous year, and injury rates have fallen by 66.3 percent since 2010.
Many of the safety improvements that Mapleton has implemented to break through its safety plateau have been generated by the employees themselves using a “Green Card” program to document and communicate when employees identify, and proactively fix, a safety risk. In 2015, Mapleton employees submitted nearly 5,000 Green Cards representing potential hazards or conditions that they worked on independently or with management to address, and believed could be improved. The facility also uses a “Star Green Card” system to allow department heads to further recognize employees who have gone above and beyond to fix a potential safety risk. The facility has implemented a full-time Safety Champion position for each department, empowering employees to apply their specific knowledge of shop floor and safety practices to work with department heads to enact health and safety initiatives.
Because safety communication has been fundamental to the success of Mapleton’s efforts, the safety team created a safety improvement video, which is screened throughout the facility and updated each month to reflect the process and facility safety improvements that have been implemented. Often these videos highlight innovative solutions developed and implemented by the employees. Facility Manager Gary Bevilacqua attributes the success of the videos to the fact that it is a communication method that allows a different type of dialogue. “People are starting to talk about safety more openly and listening to the messages on the videos,” he said. “It’s generating awareness and more individuals are coming forward with new ideas and aren’t afraid to discuss them with their teams.”
Across our manufacturing operations, our employees have developed unique processes to create Cat® products. At Caterpillar Torreón, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, our employees have custom-built dozens of hand tools to help them in their daily work. After review by Torreón’s safety team, we determined that a number of those tools would benefit from ergonomic improvements to make them more efficient and protect our employees from injuries. Over the course of six months, the Torreón environment, health and safety team worked with facility employees to evaluate their hand tools using the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) hand tool checklist, and then standardized and redesigned the tools to improve safety and ease of use. As a result of these improvements, our people are safer and more productive. The Torreón team also estimates that the facility will save more than $268,000 per year in lost time and workers’ compensation costs.