Johnson Matthey’s facility at Devens, near Boston, ran an entire safety month to strengthen the site’s safety culture...

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The Chemical industry is an industry with intrinsic risks and constant vigilance is an essential part of everyday working life. Extending the industry practice of 'safety stand down' days, which raise awareness of the risks, Johnson Matthey's facility at Devens, near Boston, US, ran an entire safety month in August 2012 to strengthen the site's safety culture.

Safety Month Targets Key Safety Issues

The nature of the injuries and incidents that were occurring were weighed up and topics for the safety month were identified. They included behaviour based safety, process safety, lab safety, ergonomics and material handling.
Safety month kicked off with first aid training from a representative of the local firefighting / emergency medical response service followed by a session from an insurance provider, entitled 'Safe Behaviour in the Workplace: The ABCs of Human Behaviour', which emphasised how interdependent we are in the workplace.

Subject matter experts from each department covered topics ranging from the safe handling of pharmaceutical compounds to process safety and safety aspects in shipping products. During these sessions, the wealth of safety information existing within the ranks of the company emerged and was shared.

Over the month there were presentations from guest speakers from outside organisations including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Liberty Mutual Insurance, as well as videos from the Chemical Safety Board. In all, safety month featured 14 days with safety related events encompassing a broad range of topics. The month culminated with an employee 'Lunch and Learn' session where accident / incident rates and the true cost of accidents were discussed. At the conclusion of safety month, all employees were asked to sign a safety pledge.

So What was the Outcome?

In the immediate term, an employee survey measured responses to the safety month and the feedback has informed decisions on future training. More important, in the following six month period, there were 33% fewer reportable accidents and first aid cases, and a two and a half fold increase in 'submitted learning events' (whereby employees' observations of opportunities to improve safety practices or situations which may necessitate at risk behavior are submitted and shared) compared to the same period in the previous year.

One of Johnson Matthey's sustainability targets is to achieve zero 'greater than three day' accidents. Initiatives like the Devens safety month, which resonate with employees and secure their buy in, build good safety practices and a sound safety culture – where everyone is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.