Employee safety programs need to be tailored to specific facilities. However, an overall culture of safety helps foster constant improvement and consistency across an organization. At Hearthside Food Solutions, the enterprise-wide, bottom-up safety program is called “I am.”

Milton Vicenteno, vice-president of environment, health and safety, at Hearthside, explained that it begins with each individual’s responsibility and accountability for safety.

“It is never someone else’s problem or concern,” he said. “Everyone is trained and empowered to help affect our world-class safety environment.”

Every day and every shift at Hearthside begins with the question: Who’s responsible for safety? Employees respond, “I am.”

The Hearthside employee safety culture is built through daily engagement with team members. Hearthside suggests leaders make it a habit of spending five minutes talking to someone about safety every time they are on a plant floor.

“We also encourage every employee to speak up with ideas that can improve the safe working conditions where they work,” Mr. Vicenteno said.

Hearthside also recognizes that 100% safety is a moving target. Each year, the company examines its safety goals to focus on continuous improvement. Part of this process includes conducting rigorous root-cause analysis on previous incidents and reviewing inspection results and audit information.

“Getting more specific about the root causes of safety incidents allows us to find solutions,” Mr. Vicenteno said. “When and where are the incidents occurring? What job classification? What specific task? What equipment is involved? Our goal is to have a sustainable safety culture with engaged employees who know how and are committed to working safely.”

To further engage employees, Hearthside created internal teams like the Safety Champions team, the Medical First Responder team, in addition to safety committees. Some committees have sub-committees tailored to specific areas of focus like fire prevention, fall protection and lockout/tagout (LOTO) protection.

“Safety was objective one on day one, and that has not changed,” Mr. Vicenteno said. “What has evolved is ever-improving systems, practices and processes for safety, safety training and measurement. This certainly includes new technologies, but that is only part of the change. We can never be satisfied with our current level of safety. We believe that complacency is the enemy of improvement.”

This article is an excerpt from the September 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on employee safety, click here.