Way To Go, Plymouth Manufacturing!

Toward the end of last year Plymouth Manufacturing had the buzz of a major league baseball team on a hot streak in September.

“Everyone on the floor was saying could we do it?” said Process Technician Kory Feldmann.  “First we hit 100 days, then it was up to 120 days.  It was crazy.”

Safety Team...Assemble!: Kory Feldmann and Brenda Prange
Safety Team…Assemble!: Kory Feldmann and Brenda Prange

Plymouth Manufacturing reached a record 159 days without a recordable safety incident at the beginning of 2015.  This means for more than 5 months, everyone who walked into the Plymouth plant, went home without an injury.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know what the hell happened!” laughed Kory Feldmann who is also part of the Plymouth Safety Team.  “It was an amazing stroke of luck.”

But there’s no such thing as luck, only preparation.

“That’s true,” said Feldmann.  “We have all been taking more responsibility for our actions, making sure that we keep ourselves and others safe,” he said.

To recognize this major accomplishment Manufacturing managers and supervisors hosted a soup celebration for the employees in the lunchroom earlier this month.

“We need to recognize them. They should be extremely proud that they reached this milestone,” said Sr. Production Supervisor Monica Kleinhans serving up cream of broccoli soup.

Since 2010 the number of OIRs in Plymouth has dropped 54 percent thanks to new safety initiatives.

“These past 5 years we have put several things into place to formalize our best practices,” said Production Manager Annette Eigenberger.  “We enacted our ‘Near Miss’ program, Behavioral-Based Safety Observations (BBS), and put together our plant Safety Teams.  These three things together have made a big impact,” said Eigenberger.  “In 2010, our average number of days without an OIR was only 6 to 9 days.  To reach 159 days just 4 years later is truly awesome,” she said.

Brenda Prange has been on the Safety Team with Kory Feldmann for a year.  She’s been with Sargento for 15 years.

“People are much more aware of their surroundings,” said Prange. “The peer-based safety audits (BBS) are really effective because it’s different when your colleague points out unsafe behavior, rather than your supervisor.  More and more people are embracing it, instead of viewing it as tattling,” she said.

Soft muscle tissue injuries have historically been the most common in Manufacturing.  Part of the safety culture, now includes stretching before work and promoting health and wellness.

“I consider our people in the plant our industrial athletes,” said Eigenberger.  “They need to be mentally and physically ready for each day on each shift.  That’s why there’s veggies being served at this lunch instead of cookies.  I get a little flack for not having desserts, but part of good health is eating right,” she smiled.

Laughter and fellowship filled each table just as loaded potato, chicken dumpling and cream of broccoli soups filled each bowl.  It took each individual in the entire plant to make this happen.

Enjoying the Celebration!
Enjoying the Celebration!

“It’s unbelievable for a plant this size to go for so many days without an injury. It’s just fantastic!” said VP-Manufacturing Lee McCollum.  He joined the celebration to congratulate the team on a job well-done.  “Automation has also helped make a difference by making the most strenuous jobs safer.  Now when engineering looks at new equipment, they look at safety first and then cost,” he said.

Even though the streak has ended, the knowledge and pride remain.

“We’ll crush it next time,” said Kory Feldmann showing great confidence in the culture of safety being built at Sargento.

Process Tech Mike Schubert enjoys loaded baked potato so
Process Tech Mike Schubert enjoys loaded baked potato soup