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Creating an effective safety culture helps protect employees and can lead to an enjoyable work environment. Kimberly-Clark, provider of essential products and services to the manufacturing industry, has maintained a notable safety track record within its facilities. Here’s what you can learn from the company’s safety experts.

A company that values safety and actively works to protect employees at the job site realizes many benefits. It reduces accidents and injuries first and foremost, it boosts employee engagement and morale, which help with recruitment and retention, and it increases worker productivity, which is good for the bottom line.

Kimberly-Clark Professional provides more than essential products and services that help make manufacturing workplaces exceptional. The Irving, Texas-based business is also a trusted manufacturer in its own right, one that takes safety seriously. Through the years, Kimberly-Clark has maintained a notable safety track record within its facilities.

Here’s what you can learn about fostering a safety culture in the workplace with insights from Kimberly-Clark safety experts.

Establish Clear Objectives

Creating an efficient safety culture starts with clear objectives. To begin, visualize what success looks like in terms of safety at the company, and how safety relates to the company overall. What is the goal? Is it limiting the number of accidents or injuries? Reducing lost-time cases? Hosting more safety inspections or training courses? Or some combination of these?

 

“A relentless pursuit to identify hazards and at-risk behaviors is the key to mitigating risks. We do this through a planned inspection process and through touch points with our teams.”
Pam Dickens
Kimberly-Clark Professional

 

Kimberly-Clark maintains a focus on people, processes and sustainability and strives to protect and elevate these pillars through its annual safety plans. The holistic approach, centered on people, is pivotal to driving a successful culture at the company; in fact, it is what enabled Kimberly-Clark to react quickly and efficiently to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leveraging a business continuity plan provided by the crisis management team, each site successfully implemented precautionary measures to prioritize employee health and safety while also minimizing disruptions to everyday operations.

Read more: Sustainable Manufacturing: How Kimberly-Clark’s RightCycle Program Helps Organizations Manage PPE Waste

Create a Strategic Plan

Once a clear objective is in place, the next step is to develop a plan to achieve it. A principal part of a strategic plan is to identify any issues that stand in the way of improved safety at the workplace and create or rebuild programs that address those issues.

“A relentless pursuit to identify hazards and at-risk behaviors is the key to mitigating risks,” says Pam Dickens, safety leader at Kimberly-Clark’s Owensboro, Kentucky, mill. “We do this through a planned inspection process and through touch points with our teams. The touch points keep everyone engaged, so they feel like they own our programs.”

 

WATCH: Discover how to properly recycle your PPE with post-consumer recycling solutions from Kimberly-Clark Professional.

 

At Kimberly-Clark, the strength of a safety plan is its ability to tie back to its objective of protecting people, processes and the environment across all sites of the organization. By hosting annual strategic meetings, Kimberly-Clark gathers corporate leaders, site managers and mill employees to work cross-functionally to build and implement the proper policies and procedures to address top-of-mind needs.

Measure Success

If it gets measured, it gets done, the old saying goes. Regarding a company’s safety plan, metrics such as the number of accidents or injuries, lost-time cases, or safety training courses all can be tracked. But focusing only on these indicators may not give the full picture of safety at the worksite.

Requiring leaders to report on their safety initiatives, for example—either daily, weekly or on some other cadence—ensures that safety remains a priority throughout the company and helps strengthen the safety culture.

When employees have visibility into these metrics, they may be motivated to improve them.

Image courtesy of Kimberly-Clark Professional

By providing several ways to report issues—such as installing a comment box in the facility and promoting an open-door policy for employees to talk to managers—the reporting process will be easier and workers more likely to participate. The company should respond to commenters in a timely manner and without negative repercussions and should communicate this policy clearly. Rewarding employees for reporting safety issues is one way to encourage input.

Continuously Improve

If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that even the most established processes or procedures can quickly become obsolete. Companies with effective safety cultures seek to continually change processes to improve them.

Understanding this, Kimberly-Clark builds maturity models to assess what is working now and what might need to be changed to improve things moving forward. Through self-assessments, the company measures compliance across corporate standards and the standards of regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and identifies gaps and opportunities.

Kimberly-Clark safety experts say that continuous improvement requires input from a cross-functional team—including the site lead and representatives from environmental health and services, occupational health, procurement and sustainability. When aligned, the team is able to quickly gauge the safety plan’s implementation and success of policies and procedures, respond to issues and pivot when necessary.

Read more: Putting Safety First Increases Productivity and Efficiency

Make Sure Everyone Is on Board

Like most high-functioning groups, manufacturers will have the greatest success when everybody at the company knows the objective and rallies behind it, creating a sense of ownership and accountability.

Dickens says achieving compliance with the company’s safety culture goals starts with ensuring that the policies and procedures are clearly understood. “The main way to gain buy-in from all levels of our team starts with exceptional communication, so that site goals are fully understood,” she says. “From there, we involve our technicians to drive program implementation and adequate training.”

Effective communication could involve hosting periodic safety talks. If qualified employees are willing to give the presentations, the message may resonate better than having an outside party come in.

To strengthen buy-in from employees at all levels, safety policies should be followed by employees at all levels. If executives and senior managers are committed to complying with company safety policies, it serves as a positive, effective model for others.

 

Quick Poll: Safety Culture

An effective safety culture not only protects employees on the job, it also buoys the bottom line by increasing productivity, boosts employee morale and helps with recruitment.

How does your company measure the success of its safety program?

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Kimberly-Clark Professional is on a mission to create safer, healthier and more productive workplaces. Our wiping solutions, PPE and washroom/breakroom solutions can provide you and your customers trusted brand name products to maximize safety and productivity.

 

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