It wasn’t always easy to get employees to think about safety, says J.B. Brown, president of Bremen Casting Inc. For the past 2 years, the company has made an extra push to drill down to all employees the importance of safety in the workplace and as a result, some employees were fired, some quit and others had an adjustment period.
“We didn’t want them on board, even if they had 10 or 20 years’ experience, if they couldn’t accept safety as a core value. We put some policies in place that people didn’t like, but we want them to be safe, to automatically do it,” says Brown.
Bremen Castings Inc. is a family-owned foundry and machine shop and founded in 1939 in Bremen, Ind. In a job where employees deal with heavy, hot molten iron, there undoubtedly are added dangers, but Bremen Casting is seeing a dramatic decrease in injuries thanks to the added safety measures put into place,
“We want employees to become the same way about safety that professional athletes think about golf or football; to do it automatically,” says Brown. To get employees to that point in their safety efforts, Bremen Castings has instituted a number of new programs and policies.
- Safety is the first thing discussed in daily production meetings.
- All injury-causing or loss-related accidents and incidents and near misses require a report that is emailed to the entire management team. These reports include incidents – such as a non-work-related seizure – that occur on site.
- Bremen believes all employees are members of the safety team providing a better root cause and corrective action. Employees are asked about their safety concerns, and those concerns are addressed by supervisors and management.
- All departments have a weekly safety audit where they are scored from someone trained outside that department. They even go so far as to rate the housekeeping staff on their safety.
- A toolbox talk each month covers OSHA-mandated training topics.
- Every Monday, employees have a 15-minute safety pep talk, and pep talks are the first thing on the agenda when employees return from holidays and 3-day weekend.
And in the hot summer months, Bremen cools workers off, around the clock, with an ample supply of free freezer pops. “This is a hot environment, and we’ve had some overheats,” says Tricia Endsley, the health and safety manager at Bremen.
She said employees are encouraged to eat an electrolyte freezer pop before their shifts to cool down and hydrate and there is plenty of ice water on hand throughout the shift. Employees also are given bandanas soaked in ice water. Certain work restrictions and cautions come into play when the temperature goes above 90 degrees, says Endsley, again when it reaches 100 degrees and if the temperature goes over 101 degrees, employees only are allowed to work for 1 hour.
In 2011, when the changes first were made in corporate safety policies and programs, the measures led to a 63 percent reduction in recordable incidents requiring outside treatment, and a more-than 33 percent reduction in lost-time incidents. Bremen Casting Inc. is on a roll: 344 days as of May 1 without a lost-time incident. The first quarter of 2012 was the first time in its history that the company completed an entire quarter without any lost-time or recordable incident.