Health and safety is often overlooked, whether it’s in the workplace or in our own homes. For example, when using day-to-day household items or cleaners, we rarely stop to think about the processes it takes to create them, or the worker’s safety while carefully formulating and assembling these items. As we go about our daily lives and carry out our jobs, safety is usually an afterthought.
Nation Ford Chemical, a specialty chemical manufacturer and longtime SOCMA member located in Fort Mill, SC, is one of many companies changing the importance of health and safety, not only in the workplace, but also in reinforcing them as top priorities in building company morale. As a means to celebrate these ongoing efforts and demonstrate the importance of health and safety to employees, Nation Ford Chemical recently held its first-ever Health and Safety Day.
Health and Safety Day 2017 is an innovative and dynamic approach to instill these key principles within the chemical industry. Taking a break from the day-to-day production that occurs and creating a fun environment to motivate staff to make health and safety top priorities is the primary goal.
Being family owned and operated, family is also very important to Nation Ford Chemical, so sending their workers safely home at the end of the day is essential. And through the years, the company’s management team has placed an emphasis on building and strengthening its workplace health and safety culture.
The idea of Health and Safety Day actually started with the management team, which wanted to show employees how much they truly care. “It’s important to our company and management to stress the commitment to safety on a daily basis,” said Nation Ford Chemical President and CEO Jay Dickson.
The morning started out with onsite plant activities. Employees were grouped into teams based on their job functions, so everyone could work together performing drills that would improve their own workspace safety. The afternoon was spent with onsite vendors showcasing safety gear, and health screenings were available. The day ended with managers volunteering to spend time in the dunking booth, which was a crowd favorite, and a number of raffles were held. A safety-based scavenger hunt and fork lift obstacle course were available for the employees to participate in as well. All proceeds from the event are going to charity.
Beyond Safety Day, Nation Ford Chemical is working in other ways to improve health and safety and make it more meaningful and practical. A year ago, Nation Ford Chemical Vice President Phillip McCarter implemented a safety topic of the day that’s posted in the break room and incorporated at all staff meetings. The topics focus on a wide range of areas, including lifestyle, general safety, process safety and even safety that’s relevant to the home.
In addition, Nation Ford Chemical is working to implement a new peer-to-peer auditing process. OSHA requires that certain EHS&S programs be audited once a year, and Nation Ford Chemical has identified 14 programs to include in this process. The new program requires that a different manager audit a different program each quarter. No manager audits the same program twice, but each manager will complete four audits per year. The company is very excited about this new system and even included it in their Tier III application for ChemStewards®.
“It’s rare that we are able to get the whole company together, so the idea of Health and Safety Day was to build teamwork and emphasize a high priority on safety,” said Dickson. The hope is that more chemical companies will follow the model Nation Ford has established and include day-to-day safety as a top priority going forward.