Juno Inc.'s Alexandria, Minn., injection molding plant is riding an enviable streak that it doesn't want to end.
For the past 30 months, employees at the plant have not lost any work time due to injuries, and carry a perfect zero injury rate and lost time rate per 200,000 labor hours.
``It is difficult to say that any one thing is the key to success, but the constant focus on emphasizing the importance of safety and training employees is raising the safety awareness so there is a change in the culture,'' said George Ivers, director of operations in Alexandria, in a recent telephone interview.
The plant operates 27 injection molding presses ranging in size from 40 to 440 tons. It has 75 employees working three shifts a day, five days a week. The company makes mostly industrial products.
Alexandria currently ranks as the only holder of the safety trophy that its parent Cretex Cos. Inc., awards annually to the plant with the best safety record. It also holds Liberty Mutual's Gold Award for the two-year period of March 1, 2005 through Feb. 28, 2007. That award is given to companies that are at least 80 percent lower than the industry average. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry average for plastic products manufacturing is 1.7 lost hours per 200,000 labor hours.
``Safety has now become a high visibility issue,'' said Ivers.
He said the plant had a 24.4 injury rate in 1999. It was 11 and its lost time rate, 2.8, in 2003 right before the current safety program was started.
Cuts and burns, along with repetitive motion injuries like back strain were the most common problems in the past.
``The first thing was assign safety responsibilities to all department heads and supervisors,'' Ivers said.
The company adopted the Liberty Mutual Residual Risk Reduction program and started an annual training program. Goals and objectives were established. A management safety committee was set in place. Incidents and near misses are investigated.
He said now problems are looked at logically, corrective actions considered and the risk reduced. Ivers said that once employees saw safety was a chief concern of management, they took it as way to work.
Ivers said that he's seen employees tell others to use the handrail when going up steps. It's simple reminder but one that has all thinking ``safety.''
Some of the things they've done in Alexandria: Ongoing ergonomic upgrades, utility knife safety training. improved illumination, clearly defined walkways, and screen doors on docks for ventilation and to prevent insect bites
The company even set a standard weight of 40 pounds for its boxes as an over-exertion reduction standard.