On November 12, NFI Corp. employees set an astounding safety record: 1,000 days in row without an injury! This length of time – well over 2½ years – is virtually unheard of in manufacturing facilities, where a safety hazard can lurk around any corner.
Mark Smith, Site Manager, notes that safety truly is a priority at NFI Corp., and it goes hand-in-hand with an organized, “well-oiled” manufacturing process. “Having a focus on both safety and production helps us meet our customers’ deadlines,” he says. “Everything is in the right place. Everything is neat and orderly. Everything is running smoothly.”
Plant Engineer Fred Branquinho adds, “When I found out that 7S Lean Manufacturing was just rolling out, I decided to bring this into our company. In addition to a focus on safety, this methodology emphasizes company morale. It’s true that company pride builds team spirit. And team spirit means we all look out for each other – this translates to fewer safety issues AND brings up production.”
As a 7S Lean Manufacturing company, safety directly impacts our employees – and our customers.
The safety aspect of 7S requires attention to safety throughout the facility. The focus on safety is particularly applicable in manufacturing plants where potentially dangerous equipment or substances may be involved.
At NFI Corp., various printing and production steps involve laser knives, large printing presses, use of chemicals, and other potentially hazardous processes and equipment. “We’ve eliminated a lot of processes and steps that were previously hazardous,” Mark says. “We’ve diligently and systematically implemented much safer procedures, equipment, and training. This has resulted in more efficient processes that help ensure we meet project deadlines. In fact,” he adds, “I would say that key words for us are diligence and discipline – as well as passion and pride.”
Here are just a few of the safety-related procedures NFI Corp. has implemented:
- Onboarding with ongoing training – New employees quickly learn that everyone is responsible for safety. Ongoing training means all employees remain vigilant. They continually ask, “What can we do to make NFI Corp. a safer environment?”
- Installing visual controls throughout the facility – Color tape on the floor indicates walkways, which need to be kept clear of clutter. Reminder posters at every process step list the protective gear to be worn. Shelves are marked, indicating where specific supplies are stored. Visual controls throughout the facility serve as prompts to be safe. “Simple steps can prevent hazards,” says Fred.
- Ensuring use of protective glasses, gloves, and more – Various production processes require the use of protective eyewear, an apron, cut-resistant gloves, or long gloves with protective sleeves. Training and visual controls ensure employees properly and consistently use the safety equipment.
- Switching to safer, environmentally friendly chemicals – For decades, printing and manufacturing facilities relied on hazardous chemicals that posed a safety risk to employees and were not environmentally friendly. Early in the “green” movement, NFI Corp. worked hard to find ways to replace hazardous chemicals with environmentally friendly chemicals, which are also markedly safer for employees. “This push was led by our company’s President and CEO, Renaud Megard,” Mark says. “Plus, Renaud and our entire leadership team are strongly committed to – and highly involved – in our many safety initiatives.”
- Consistent use of Near-Miss Forms – “When you see it, say it.” Every employee completes a Near-Miss Form when they spot a potential hazard, even if they are not a supervisor or manager. The safety committee and NFI Corp.’s leaders review all forms, and quickly address potential hazards. Employees on the manufacturing floor know they are the eyes and ears of the company. They readily embrace the opportunity – and the responsibility – to report safety-related issues. Plus, it helps that employees are rewarded via a bonus program!
- Monthly “All Hands” meetings are motivational and informative – Every month, the entire NFI Corp. team hears about safety updates and new initiatives. Plus, employees learn a “seasonal” safety tip. Depending on the season, tips range from winter driving reminders to practical strategies to survive the summer heat.
Another benefit: Safety awareness spurs innovation.
There is a surprising relationship between safety and innovation. Every employee has a watchful eye on processes throughout the facility, looking out for safety hazards. As a bonus, employees are uncovering innovative ways to improve processes, save time, and increase efficiency.
Comprehensive “Safety First” initiatives have instilled a spirit of pride.
“I’m amazed at our people’s passion and pride,” Fred says. “Everyone is stepping up and taking responsibility for safety. We keep looking for things we can fix or refine. That’s what driving us. We’ve hit our 1,000 day record – and that’s an accomplishment – but we’re aiming to surpass that. We want to keep this safety record going here at NFI Corp. AND continue to stress the importance of safety at home, on the road, and anywhere you go. We’re a team, and we want to help keep everyone safe.”
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