Elkhart, Ind. — StateWide Windows of Elkhart, Indiana, reports that its 190-plus employees have worked over 1 million hours without a lost time injury. The firm builds windows for the recreational vehicle, truck cap and livestock trailer industries.
“In addition to our milestone of a million hours since our last lost time accident, year-to-date we have had zero recordable injuries at StateWide,” said Doug Eberlein, director of operations for the firm that is a division of the Truck Accessories Group (TAG).
He added, “Actually we are currently at 10 months straight without a recordable injury. This shows we have strong momentum in recognizing safety as a core value to our business.”
Eberlein explained that in a business category in which accidents are statistically high, the metal extrusion and glass production segment, StateWide’s core value of safety has yielded significant results.
“Safety has to be recognized as a core value in the organization,” he said. “You can’t say safety is a priority because priorities tend to get shifted. You have to have a good foundation and a safety culture. Our team members understand that they are responsible for the 60-square-feet in front them. We empower them to raise their hand or stop production when an unsafe event takes place.”
He said that every morning StateWide has a pre-shift meeting to discuss key process measures, the meeting starts with safety. “Every week we have a general theme that is drafted into five daily topics to start the shift each day. We walk the floors weekly with the team members and look for safety issues. We get their input and ask questions.”
“As an example of team member engagement; if an operator has a machine that is leaking oil, they have the authority to say ‘stop’ and lock out the machine until it is corrected. By taking this stance, it has really gained momentum and belief within the facilities that safety is a core business value at StateWide.”
Involvement of the Human Resources department and a systemized approach to resolution is also key.
Angel Kaper, human resource manager for the StateWide facility explained, “It’s about problem resolve and resolution,” she said. “If an employee has a problem on the line we have a PRR (Problem Resolve and Resolution) request form that starts the process to make it better. The employee initiates the process. So it’s not us dictating to them what needs to be done.”
Kaper stated that each year there is a safety theme complete with T-shirts for the team. “They vote on the theme. Stuff like that that we implement every year that has an impact. This year it’s ‘Accidents bring jeers. Safety brings cheers,'” Kaper said.
Eberlein stated that StateWide’s safety culture starts from the top at TAG Corporation. “We have great corporate support from Truck Accessories Group,” he said. “We have a monthly corporate safety steering committee meeting that pulls all the business units together from Indiana, California, Pennsylvania and Washington to collaborate on safety. So if there is an injury in another business unit, we all talk about it and understand the root cause so we can look at our own business unit to see if we can address things and be proactive.”
He said his parent company, JBPCo also conducts surprise inspections to assure compliance to Federal, State and Corporate EH&S Policy. “Our team members are aware that when we have an issue, it will get attention all the way to corporate. We openly talk about it, investigate it, and fix it.”
There are cost benefits to making safety a core value. “It has a correlation to the bottom line,” said Eberlein. “Whether you are self-insured or you are insured through a third party, your rates are predicated on safety. So if your facility is in a position where people are getting hurt daily, you are either going to have increased insurance rates the following year or you will get dropped or have to seek another insurance company. If you’re self-insured then you’re paying for those injuries right out of pocket – both translate directly to the bottom line.”
“But the most important factor is our people know we care,” he said. “The longer we run this program, the more faith we have from the shop floor to the management team that we do truly care about their well-being. As your team has a sense security and safety, the more ingrained your work force becomes in believing in the organization, and you become a better organization because of it.”
The company is planning an event to celebrate both its 1 million hour milestone and its team’s adoption of a new internal computer business system.
“It’s a dual purpose milestone celebration if you will,” said Eberlein. “We are also launching a business system through JD Edwards, so we will do that in combination of hitting that million hour mark with a big celebration company-wide.”
Source: StateWide Windows press release