Strategizing Safer Ways to Work

A Forward-Focused Approach to Safety

Safety performance is often described using lagging indicators, such as recordable injury rates. Our Building Construction Products plant in Athens, Georgia, however, wanted to use a different approach, focusing instead on leading indicators, like frequency of safety observations and completion of safety training, that may predict and eliminate future incidents. The team developed a predictive safety model, called Focus Forward, that applies best practices in workplace safety to the particular needs of the Athens facility.

Focus Forward includes a real-time scorecard that provides visibility into the safety performance of each value stream, as well as measures of incidents by shift, day of the week, time of day and other factors. Managers receive a printed version of the scorecard at the beginning of each month to help them drive a positive safety culture and reduce incidents in their areas of responsibility. In the event of an incident, managers may use “plays” on the back of the Focus Forward card to walk them through proven courses of action to steer their teams back to safety. Though the implementation of Focus Forward is still in its early stages, the Operations team has committed to use the cards to drive toward zero incidents.

Painting Excavators a Smarter Way

Collaborative strategies also were employed by Caterpillar’s Thiruvallur, India, facility in India. Here, processes were updated to paint hydraulic excavators before assembly, rather than after. To meet this new requirement, the facility introduced trolleys for moving heavy parts between stations in the assembly line—but the process was time-consuming and presented safety risks due to the amount of force needed to push and pull the carts.

A cross-functional team came together to validate the root causes of safety risks and determine potential solutions. They developed a dolly mechanism for transfer of trolleys from one station to another, powered by an electrical motor to reduce burden on operators. The dolly also features guide rollers and locking systems to simplify movement. A before-and-after, quantitative risk assessment showed that the solution reduced risk to operators and maintenance technicians by 61 percent. It also reduced rework, time needed to complete tasks and cost due to use of in-house materials.

Focusing on Safety in Melbourne

With support from Caterpillar Safety Services, our Melbourne Distribution Centre (MDC) has implemented the Zero-Incident Performance (ZIP™) Process to support and enhance its safety culture.

MDC began implementing the ZIP Process in 2016, and the journey continues today. The facility has seen a significant improvement in lagging indicator safety metrics, experiencing 78.5% decline in new injuries from 2015 through 2017.

zip process

Four Continuous Improvement (CI) Teams were created after the Safety Perception Survey highlighted opportunities in safety culture indicators. The initial four areas of focus were communication, awareness, operating procedures and recognition.

Collaboration among multiple functional areas, each providing a unique perspective about how to innovate and implement new programs, has driven CI Team success.

Safety Improvement Dialogues were established as an enhancement of the Process Improvement Dialogue to allow team members the opportunity to identify potential safety concerns, identify root cause and pursue corrective actions.

Interactive Awareness programs were developed to drive and support continuous safety education. For example, the Hazard Blitz campaign consisted of 54 hazard walks or observations with 225 hazards identified. This set the momentum of hazard reporting as a leading indicator activity.

One of the most impactful benefits of the ZIP Process is improved peer-to-peer communication about safety. Employees are driving a positive tone around safety, which encourages everyone to get involved in identifying risks, sharing knowledge and acknowledging others for safe actions.