Saegertown Utilizes the Red Safety Tag Program to Encourage Plant Safety

Saegertown just wrapped up its second full year of the “red safety tag” program with 585 individual tags submitted in 2015 (up from 110 in 2014)! This program is intended to bring to attention and resolve unsafe plant conditions. Saegertown has made a commitment of bringing safety issues to the forefront, and is striving to resolve those issues quickly. Saegertown’s General Manager stresses the importance of safety and is quick to promote the culture that everyone go home as healthy as when they came to work that day. An employee in Cold Forming Set-Up shared that he believes the General Manager when he says this. Strong safety cultures are important because safe employees are happier, and safety helps the bottom line by lowering workers’ compensation costs.

The red safety tag program achieves several goals. The Focus Factory Manager for Secondary Operations pointed out that the “engagement of the people” is one of the largest benefits of the program. He stated that Saegertown has a broad group of employees submitting tags, “all shifts, all levels.” Safety is everyone’s responsibility at Saegertown.

The red safety tag program establishes a medium for employees to communicate observations, and empowers employees to take ownership of their environment, their safety, and the safety of fellow team mates. The employee in Cold Forming Setup reinforced this when he explained that everyone knows that they must do their jobs safely, and having a “safe work area” is also important. Red tags help to signal when a dangerous condition exists.

He also shared that ownership is a huge part of this program. Marie-Clair Ross (safety communication author) blogs about “5 Ways to Encourage Safety Ownership.” She says that group identity, honesty, maintaining positive safety attitudes, having friendly supervisors and telling safety stories all help to build ownership. Saegertown utilizes employee meetings, stand downs, and training and communication monitors in the break rooms to encourage safety ownership. The First Shift Supervisor is working to bring tool box talks to all employees on a regular basis. This is a great time to tell that “safety story.”

The employee in Cold Forming Setup said that when a tag is submitted and resolved, it shows that the “Company is going to back you” when it comes to safety. The Saegertown team closed 75% of its submissions in 2015.

Mid-year, Saegertown implemented a prioritizing tool learned in Safety Basics class to help close jobs in the best method possible. Some fixes require huge effort—some are easier—some fixes are done before the tags are even turned in! Large items must be discussed with management, planned and budgeted; easy ones are Just Do It’s. Continuing to grow that Just Do It culture is an ongoing goal.  It is the heart of it all—isolating potential risk and fixing issues before someone gets hurt.

Each month, Saegertown draws five of the tags entered that month and gives the contributor a gift card.   If that tag results in a Just Do It, the gift card value goes up!  Every employee who has had the privilege of attending the SAFETY BASICS five-day course has learned how the subject of safety directly applies to each employee. It no longer is a problem dealt with by supervisors and managers. It is understood that many times problems can be fixed on the spot, and that all employees are encouraged to do so. The Focus Factory Manager for Secondary Operations says he notices that Safety Basics help train students to look for various conditions. The employee graduates from the program have “learned to see” and that phrase couldn’t be truer at Saegertown.