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Employee-run Safety Program Reduces Accidents

While accident rates were acceptable, distributor makes push to further improve safety with employee-run program.

(Boonton, NJ, January 19, 2011) — When a worker at Crown Equipment Corp.'s distribution center sees a coworker perform his job safely, something unusual happens. The worker pulls a card out of his pocket, makes a few marks on it, and hands it to the exemplary worker.

It's all part of the forklift manufacturer's program of "behavior based safety" that has helped reduce accidents in both the manufacturing facility and the distribution center.

Crown's latest safety push began six years ago, when the company found that it had hit a plateau using the usual approaches to safety, says Brian Duffy, Crown's director of environmental health and safety.

In the January issue of Distribution Center Management, Duffy tell readers that the company then decided to put its safety program in the hands of its workers.

Crown isn't exactly letting the inmates run the asylum, however. It brought in a consultant to help set up its program. Here's how they do it:

At the beginning of a shift, each worker picks up a handful of cards listing the latest safety priorities. Examples include:

  • Sound horn at an intersection before continuing into an aisle.
  • Look both ways before entering an aisle.
  • Acknowledge pedestrians in your area.
  • Perform an inspection before operating your truck.
  • Bend at the knees when lifting a load.

When a worker sees a coworker performing one of these behaviors, he stops, checks off the appropriate line, and hands it to the worker. The tone of the interaction is upbeat, and the theme is to recognize and thank the worker who's behaving safely. "People really appreciate being thanked," Duffy says.

Details on Crown Equipment Corp.'s safety plan appear in the January issue of Distribution Center Management newsletter.

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