Small Packaging: Taking a Proactive Stance on Safety

Kimberly BraamMauser News, Safety, Small Packaging

"Every accident is preventable," says Allen Coppolo, Director, Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S), Small Packaging.  And, it's this positive philosophy that is powering efforts to create a proactive safety program and culture that involves employees in all 26 Small Packaging plants.

"Instead of addressing injuries after the fact, we 're focusing on prescriptive measures to prevent them from happening in the first place," he says.

Plants that have good safety performance are both practical and out-of-the-box thinkers, asking: What is really necessary to do our jobs - - and what can we do differently to make them safer?

Forward thinking
While the standard in the industry is to measure safety performance in terms of lagging indicators, for example, the number of recordable injuries, this approach only provides a record of how many things went wrong, Allen explained. With the goal of gaining better insights into how to help prevent injuries before they happen, the Small Packaging plants are starting to examine leading indicators, such as employee engagement levels, training sessions held and audit scores. Allen, working with his counterparts in Large Packaging, will be tracking these and other indicators of safety through a common management platform called EHS Insight.

"We are not only tracking injury incidents, but also the actions and behaviors we are taking to prevent them in the first place. The results of those measurements can be prescriptive in how to get closer to our safety goals," Allen says.

First things first
Priorities should be guided by what Allen calls a hierarchy of needs, starting with the physical work environment. Recent emphasis has been to ensure small packaging machinery is compliant with current safety standards, and implementing controls to eliminate potential hazards. Allen reports that installation of machine guards have made wholesale improvements to several work areas across Small Packaging.

Allen adds that there's a logic to the work. First, we need to provide the right environment and tools for employees to work safely, then we provide training and communications to help employees understand how to use the tools at their disposal to work safely; then we must audit and coach through observation to ensure we are seeing the right behaviors.

Everyone's contributions matter
Allen cautions that meeting our goal of zero injuries and zero harm doesn't happen overnight. He says it takes a long-term commitment and holistic approach. Working together is something Allen is passionate about. "The only way a safety program can be successful is if it exists in a culture of interdependence – that means we are looking out, not only for ourselves, but all our coworkers. Teamwork is essential and two-way, open communication is critical to be able to address needs quickly, deal with change and challenges, and get us get us where we need to be."