Record safety success at two Knauf Insulation plants
By Knauf Australia on June 11, 2014

Two Knauf Insulation plants are enjoying record periods of operation without a lost time accident (LTA).

Two Knauf Insulation plants are enjoying record periods of operation without a lost time accident (LTA).

As of June 5 the company’s Visé manufacturing plant that employs 200 people in Belgium had logged 235 days without an LTA, while the company’s 130-employee Shasta Lake site in North America has recorded 510 LTA-free days.

The dramatic accident-free periods at both plants has been attributed to better analysis after all incidents, more communication, improved feedback and a strong top-down approach from management.

“From 2011 to 2013 we were experiencing an LTA about once a month at Visé and this was perceived as ‘normal’,” says Bertrand Kevelaer, the site’s Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Manager. “Now the culture is changing and any accident is seen as unacceptable. No accidents are the new ‘normal’.”

All ‘near misses’ and first aid cases must now be declared immediately during a shift and within a week of an incident detailed analysis must be carried out by the operator, supervisor and HSE. The objective is to be reactive and to put in place preventive action to reduce risk in the plant.

Furthermore, all managers have received HSE training, health and safety communication has been increased across all departments and HSE topics are regularly discussed at different meetings. Zone leaders also highlight HSE issues during short discussions in the working place known as ‘toolbox’ meetings.

“Managers, supervisors and operators are also very visibly being seen to take health and safety seriously. Leading by example is helping create a safer culture,” says Kevelaer.

At Shasta Lake there was just one LTA in 2012 and the last incident was in January 2013. “We have good systems in place but it takes a collaborative effort to prevent complacency in our approach to performing a task safely,” says the plant’s HSE manager Randall Peterson.

“We keep safety at the forefront of everyone’s mind by involving most members of staff in hazard identification by engaging them in the plant inspection process each month. We also meet daily to assess, prioritise and develop action plans for mitigation of newly reported safety issues.”

Behavioural safety is also vital. “It’s important to always provide feedback to an individual when observing their work practices, whether unsafe or safe, because in the space of a short conversation you can quickly establish safer – ultimately better – ways of doing things, or for that matter reinforce what they have just done safely,” Peterson says.

And of course, nobody in either plant is being complacent. “You may have been driving a car for 10 years without an accident, but tomorrow that may change. It’s the same in the plant, it’s important to always anticipate any accident possibility,” says Kevelaer.