Unless you’re a workplace safety enthusiast (yes, they do exist—our company is full of them), you might not know that on-the-job safety can be roughly divided into two categories: occupational safety, which focuses on preventing individual injuries, and process safety, which establishes practices and procedures that prevent catastrophic incidents.
Our Mill Hall, Pennsylvania, factory, where we manufacture our proprietary adhesives, is a great example of how process safety is built into the way we work. The chemicals we use in that facility require extra care in how we handle and store them. So we safeguard our people and property in three main ways:
● We continually eliminate hazards in our manufacturing processes. That means replacing a chemical reactor system when it gets old enough to pose a risk or upgrading an entire ventilation system so that it better removes potentially dangerous fumes—both of which we did recently. “These measures required significant investment, but our leadership was nothing but supportive, because safety is so fundamental to our culture,” notes Plant Manager Nat Weiner.
● We maintain the integrity of our equipment. This is about much more than keeping bolts and belts tightened. Ready for a fun acronym? RAGAGEP stands for “recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices.” Those ever-stricter practices and standards are what we continually work to adopt when it comes to operating and caring for our equipment. A Process Safety Management Council, made up of employees from multiple departments at the Mill Hall plant, leads our efforts. They measure their progress through regular audits by independent experts.
● We continually practice our response to crisis. In emergencies, you do what you’re trained to do. So our Mill Hall team trains. A lot. They regularly hold unannounced drills. “Each time we find an opportunity to improve, even if it just means catching an error in a phone number that could make all the difference when speed counts,” Nat reports. “And each time we’ve drilled, our response time has gotten better.”
The focus on these kinds of fundamentals is what has allowed us to keep our employees safe at our Mill Hall plant. And it’s helped Avery Dennison establish one of the best safety records in global manufacturing. For safety to take hold in a company culture, says Nat, everybody has to be on board.
“Every single person has to be all in. It can’t just be about the plant manager or the safety manager. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are as passionate about staying safe as I am.”
Read more about our company-wide progress on safety here.