More Than Safety: Risk Reduction and Workplace Safety

This is Part 4 of an 8-part series on OrthoLite’s EHS program: a premier initiative in the footwear industry for safety, empowerment, and social responsibility. See the end of this article for links to more posts.

Workplace safety is the absolute, non-negotiable center of OrthoLite’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) program. There are more than 3,300 people behind each insole we produce. Their health and security are, and will always be, paramount.

We sustain that focus with a proactive and responsive approach. Dedicated leaders ensure that each OrthoLite facility is actively reducing potential hazards, while also providing every team member with the safeguards, tools, and training they need to stay safe and healthy.

Actions and Implementations

As described in our post detailing how our global EHS program is organized, each of our factory managers has the authority to implement unique safety plans. While the highest standards and performance expectations apply to all, we allow our local leaders to prioritize and execute plans based on the needs of their specific facility and workforce.

Universally, OrthoLite safety programs are based on a strategy-to-action pathway via: Audits, Permits and Analysis; Staff Training; Signage and Visual Management; and Regular Safety Improvements/Actions.

OrthoLite health and safety

Audits, Permits and Analysis

With a general manager and a dedicated EHS manager at every OrthoLite factory, risk reduction through facility audits and upkeep is a consistent activity throughout the year. Example tasks include, but are not limited to: maintaining compliance with all local permits, fire system maintenance, regular equipment inspections and maintenance, monitoring light and noise levels, water and air quality testing, regular operations meetings, and production safety meetings.

OrthoLite health and safety

Staff Training

If we expect our team to “think safe and act safe,” it’s our responsibility to provide the tools that make this safety culture possible. We prioritize regular and ongoing training at every level of employment.

This includes, but is not limited to: risk assessment, machine-specific training, waste handling clinics, sanitation training, hazardous work training, establishing safety-conscious processes for navigating inside our facilities, and regular drills for fire, chemical spill management and emergency evacuations. We’re also developing online training programs to provide more flexible and convenient learning options for our teams.

Importantly, we actively engage every team member to be part of the solution. Full teams participate in regular GEMBA walks, where everyone is encouraged and expected to point out potential hazards and opportunities for improvement. The most impactful employee recommendations are honored company-wide with the President’s Safety Award.

OrthoLite health and safety

Signage and Visual Management

Effective signage is crucial to a safety program. It serves as a visual identifier, reminder and training guide. Toward this end, we make every effort to both design and locate signs for maximum, positive impact.

Our signs may include warnings of potential hazards, tips for safety protocols, reminders of good training. Other forms of visual safety management include painted curbs, painted walkways and painted motorized transport lanes.

OrthoLite health and safety

Safety Improvements/Actions

To close the loop on every potential safety improvement, we take action and report on it. We track every risk reduction observation, as well as every “unsafe” report and “near miss,” when an accident nearly took place and was avoided.

We then document the response and the actions taken, via: management activities, performance improvements, safety and permit inspections, communication and training provided, and management of changes (i.e. changing a procedure or facility layout to improve safety).

These are all leading indicators for safety performance, and it’s one way OrthoLite differentiates itself when it comes to elevating workplace safety.

OrthoLite health and safety

Measuring Leading and Lagging Indicators Ensures Proactive and Responsive Engagement

The leading indicators covered above are generally proactive identifications and actions taken to prevent accidents. When an accident or safety infraction does occur, we track those too.

For workplace safety, on-the-job injuries and accidents are reported as lagging indicators. In the thankfully rare event of a workplace accident, caring for our injured team member is the urgent and highest priority. Then, we analyze the incident to determine if we need to change operations, training or safety protocols. Because our safety workplace programs are constantly in evaluation, we are able to respond and adapt effectively toward reducing future hazards, instead of requiring reactionary, disruptive measures.

Finally, we document all responses and actions taken in response to proactive measures and to incidents. We categorize these by: management activities, performance improvements, safety and permit inspections, communication and training provided, and management of changes (i.e. changing a procedure or facility layout to improve safety). These delineations help us identify what efforts are working well and where we need to put more attention.

Tracking both leading and lagging indicators provides an objective assessment of the efforts we’re making toward risk mitigation and overall safety. Since these numbers are tracked continuously, we can quickly identify where we need to amplify proactive, safety-oriented initiatives.

Other Measurement Tools

OrthoLite factories also report on:

  • Long-term trends and number of days without an accident
  • Accident analysis and identifying causes, such as: fire protection, high risk tasks, transportation, chemical safety, electrical safety, machine equipment safety, sharp edges, falling, etc.
  • Accident prevention measures, such as the number of GEMBA walks, increased signage, training, etc.
  • Structured environmental management systems, like chemical management and air quality, which we track via the Higg FEM module

In this post, we covered our comprehensive approach to risk reduction and workplace safety. The next post in this EHS series will cover why we believe empowering individuals also benefits our organization and our partners.

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