Do You Believe in Zero Injuries?


Do You Believe in Zero Injuries?

Lean operating systems recognize the value of people and believe everyone should leave work the same way they arrived – injury free.  Two powerful benefits arise from truly believing in zero injuries-the awareness to see hazards and a clear message about the value of people.

The Awareness to See Hazards 

It is all too easy to become unaware of the hazards around us each day.  So much of what we see every day is normal–is part of our culture.  The ability to see hazards starts with a sincere commitment to no injuries.  This unfortunately usually happens following a severe injury.

A manufacturer in Tennessee wanted to see the hazards they walked by everyday and challenged themselves to look for them.  During the walk, the plant manager noticed as everyone on the tour – looking for hazards – walked right by a 5000 lb. fork truck carrying an empty pallet.  They all slid comfortably to the side while the fork truck rolled by beeping its horn.

The plant manager told his team that he wanted all fork trucks removed from the building within one year.  No one thought it was possible.  He explained, “Wherever we use a fork truck, I want to know why we can’t use an automatic hand truck.   Anywhere we use an automatic hand truck, I want to know why we can’t use a pallet jack. Anywhere we use a pallet jack, I want to use a table on wheels and anywhere we have a table on wheels, I want to know why the material has to move.”

Success was not easy, as moving large dies for a press was impossible without a fork truck. The plant manager conceded, but said,  “Whenever that fork truck comes in the building, I want everyone in the entire facility to stop work and be alert while the fork truck delivers the die.   Interestingly enough, the team figured out how to store the dies near the press and use a small crane to move them to the press.

The Message About the Value of People? 

During a visit to the facility, I had a close encounter with a changing culture.  I had walked the floor several times, but this time as I was walking a flight of steps to a mezzanine, the welder behind me said, “Hold on to the rail.”  I turned and looked at him, not out of disgust but, honestly, surprise. He said, “It is a big deal if you get hurt here.” It is a big deal if you get hurt anywhere, but the people in this facility are beginning to believe it.

Encourage your organization to believe in zero injuries. Be the first to say you believe and that it is possible. Then watch as hazards become more visible and that awareness leads to another belief – people are our most valuable resource.

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” now available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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