Worker safety and health are every molder’s responsibility, but the approach taken by Mack Molding Co., Arlington, Vt., helped it gain significant production and revenue returns. Mack’s safety efforts also earned it the state’s highest safety honor last year, the Governor’s Workplace Safety Award. “It is given by the state of Vermont in recognition of an employer’s commitment to excellence in workplace safety and health,” said Kevin Dailey, director of human resources.
Health makes wealth
One of the most dramatic examples of the success of its safety program is the “uptime” of its employees. Each of its three custom injection molding plants in Vermont set records for consecutive days without a lost-time injury. Mack’s Arlington headquarters plant reached 179 days; its East Arlington plant achieved 209 days; and its Cavendish facility hit 365 days. Having its labor force healthy and able to work keeps Mack’s manufacturing operations on schedule while trimming worker compensation costs.
The cost per man-hour for worker compensation claims at the Vermont facilities fell 84% from an average of $1.24/hr per employee in 1999 to an average of just 20¢/hr per employee from 2003 to 2006, says Dailey.
Mack generated $277 million in sales at the end of June 2006, operating with 1850 employees and 121 injection presses. Mack has a total of seven manufacturing plants and three distribution and remanufacturing facilities globally.
A culture of safety
Mack said it was proactive regarding safety and took several steps over the past five years to enhance its Loss Prevention and Safety program. Its biggest move was to hire a full-time occupational health nurse and a part-time occupational health physician to serve the three Vermont facilities. The company established safety committees that meet and review policy and procedures quarterly. Mack even set up a medical emergency response plan, which includes 38 employee volunteers who are American Red Cross certified to perform standard first aid.
Mack’s safety program is organized around regulatory compliance programs and issues. Members of the plant manager’s staff at each facility create programs designed for each department. The programs cover a range of issues such as lockout and tagout, forklift safety, and personal protective equipment.
“A significant improvement in worker safety is realized by having on-site services of a physician and an occupational health nurse, who help to develop and maintain the safety programs,” says Dailey. The on-site nurse, Kathy Hall, is a vital contributor to the safety program at each plant. She helps minimize workplace hazards by conducting tests to assess health risks. Given the new attention that industry and safety agencies are paying to workplace ergonomics, Hall reviews the physical requirements of all job descriptions and started a job-rotation program for the more physically demanding positions.
Mack says worker wellness is also an important part of safety. It has installed fitness facilities at all of its plants, and the on-site nurse also carries out blood-pressure, hearing, and vision screenings and administers flu shots. “Our employees are our most valuable asset, and when they are healthy they positively influence our bottom line and our ability to compete,” says Dailey.
Mack also hosts a variety of events and awards to recognize the effort required of each employee to maintain safety in the plant. Events include sit-down luncheons served by management, and raffles for DVD players, gas grills, or gift cards.