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Safety First

Apr 03, 2017 / Training

Safety is not only a priority, but also a value that is instilled at every HWI manufacturing plant, distribution center, service facility, and customer site.

HWI’s Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) team has spearheaded several key projects that are helping to ensure that safety comes first: A training program that identifies and corrects both unsafe conditions and behaviors that may lead to an accident; a new incident reporting process; and an enhanced workers’ comp claim management system.

Enhancing Our Safety Culture

Throughout 2016, HWI rolled out a training program at eight plants to identify, reduce, and eliminate injuries through the application of behavior-based safety (BBS) observations and predictive modeling.

BBS is a process that focuses people’s attentions on both actions of employees and the surrounding conditions in which they work.

An observation is essentially a snapshot in time, having multiple conditions and/or behaviors that are logged. Both conditions and behaviors are categorized as being either red (meaning it was observed being at-risk) or green (meaning it was observed being safe).

The training program, which will expand to seven additional plants in the first half of 2017, is having a positive impact on employee engagement, safety communication, and overall safety performance.

“The BBS program has greatly impacted our plant,” explains Dave Apthorpe, plant manager at HWI’s Windham plant.  “We all realize that one accident is one too many, but we were able to improve from 13 recordable injuries in 2015 to 3 recordable injuries in 2016.”

Jason West, facility manager at the HWI Fairfield Plant, points out that the BBS system is very user friendly and drives the observations out to the plant floor. “With the system in place at Fairfield, we have greatly increased the focus on safety plant wide. One of our associates, Germaine Engram, has led the company in observations a couple of months in a row. We went 316 days without an accident, which is a record for Fairfield.”

Doug Hall, senior vice president, Integrated Supply Chain, says that the commitment of the HWI safety team and the initial eight plants to participate in the BBS training is a “quantifiable reason for many of our recent safety performance successes.”

Hall reports that from 2015 to 2016, HWI reduced the number of OSHA recordable incidents by 33 percent.

Improving Communication in the Workplace

Also in 2016, HWI’s EHS team established a new system for incident reporting.

The system, which was designed to be straightforward and intuitive, is being used across the company to report near misses and recordable incidents in real time. The immediacy of the reporting allows the safety team to contact the author of the report right away, follow up with the people involved and create protocols to prevent future incidents.

“With the new, enhanced reporting system, the communication of incidents has improved immensely,” says Apthorpe. “This allows us to learn from other plants and implement corrective actions to prevent the same incident from occurring at the Windham plant.”

The company continually strives to reduce risk in the workplace. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the company experienced the fewest number of per-quarter OSHA recordable incidents since such records have been maintained. And according to Hall the company is off to an excellent start in reducing incidents in 2017.

Returning People to Work

Another key project for the HWI EHS team was an improved workers’ compensation claim management system.

HWI retained a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) to optimize the claims process, and implement effective risk control and cost containment measures. The company also engaged a nurse case management firm, and established enhanced tools for employees such as updated physical job requirements, preferred physician panel lists, nurse case management, and return-to-work (RTW) training and resources.

“As soon as we get a claim, it’s managed aggressively from the start,” says Hall. “The combination of the TPA, nurse case manager, and RTW program means that injured employees are being communicated with and supported right from the start.”

According to Hall, the improved system has resulted in claims being handled and closed much faster.

Not only is this cost-effective for the company, but far more important, it supports people to help them get better and get back to work.

About HWI, A member of Calderys

HWI is the largest supplier of refractory products and services in the United States, with a history that spans more than 150 years. It is part of Calderys and is the brand for the Americas region of the Group. HWI counts 25 manufacturing sites and 20 distribution centers in the Americas, as well as the largest refractory industry research facility in North America. Serving virtually every major industry that requires refractory solutions to enhance production and protect assets, HWI is consistently recognized for its talented experts, industry firsts, and intensely driven excellence.

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