by John Badee, Plant Manager, RIVA Precision Manufacturing
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), every day in the United States, approximately 12 people will go to work and not return home. Not only that, every week over 63,000 workers will suffer a workplace injury, many of which result in the injured worker becoming partially or even totally disabled.
Disabling injuries that involve a week or more away from work cost U.S. employers more than $53 billion a year in workers compensation costs alone. These are mostly preventable injuries that disable workers, devastate families, and damage our economy. What is even worse is that a great many of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided by paying more attention to safety.
Thankfully, at RIVA we have been able to sustain five hundred and two days without major accidents. This couldn’t have been accomplished without our Safety & Health team, as they focus primarily on the prevention of workplace injuries by providing a safe workplace programs.
Our safety team meets periodically and they work towards one theme, which is “endorse a safe working environment.”
As a jewelry manufacturer, we utilize multiple processes, from casting, stamping, soldering, laser, polishing, chain making and many more that involve large equipment; some also involve hazardous materials. It is a challenge to maintain a safe environment while investing in an effective safety and health program that keeps procedures in place. Procedures should be in place to not only keep us in compliance with legislation, but ultimately to provide strategic development for the general health and well-being of employees.
At RIVA, we embrace a clean factory, clear floor layout, organized workshop, electrical and fire safety, contained & controlled chemical processes, central dust collectors that are used to maintain a clean air environment, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), a full air conditioned plant that adds another layer of comfort to our employees, and lastly, we have a hygiene program to not only promote a healthy and safe environment, but it delivers significant productivity benefits.
Although many businesses have good safety programs on paper, they don’t lower their employee accident frequency and/or severity rates. At RIVA we work diligently to develop our safety culture by advocating the safety first principle. Our training is designed to address the safety aspects of the employees before their product training. In order to create a culture of safety, both our management and employees must be aware of, and involved in, the day-to-day safety operations of the company. Our safety team visits one department after another, on a regular basis, getting feedback from employees, and keeping them informed of various safety measurements.
Management sets the tone by setting the example, communicating clear safety instructions, which allows employees to participate in company safety activities, reporting unsafe situations, and providing feedback and suggestions.
Then safety becomes then part of our culture, and not an additional task or responsibility that we carry day-to-day.
We strive on building and maintaining an active awareness in safety by acknowledging our employees for safety compliance in company-wide celebrations. We support the overall effort to minimize the frequency of accidents, and to identify corrective measures needed to eliminate or manage safety hazards.
Workers won’t inherently know they have to do something a certain way without the organization appropriately training employees on safety protocols. This training begins upon hiring the new worker, when an employer provides an introduction to occupational safety and health, including hazard recognition. The training should continue under the specific department, in which the new employee will work.
We are proud of our fairly new initiative at RIVA that addresses not only the safety of the workplace, but other aspects of health. We sponsor healthy food programs, fitness programs “the biggest loser”, weekly massage therapy, and other programs that support the mission of having a safe and healthy workplace.
As a byproduct, the company will experience minimal injury cases, illnesses and subsequent sick days, insurance claims, premiums and fines, and lastly, but not least, there are improvements in staff motivation and in overall performance. Spending a little bit of money up front on prevention saves the company money in the long run.