New Bedford-based NFI Corp., a commercial printer and provider of graphic solutions, marked a significant milestone in November: 1,000 days of safety. That’s more than two-and-a-half years without an injury at a manufacturing workplace where use of laser knives, chemicals and large printing presses are commonplace. Mike Seidman, the company’s vice president of operations, spoke with PBN about the achievement.
PBN: Plant engineer Fred Branquiho was quoted as saying that 7S lean manufacturing, a methodology of which safety is a component, boosts company morale as well. How so?
SEIDMAN: A company that puts safety first is a company that everyone would want to work for. Additionally, a company that emphasizes safety realizes that this is an all-the-time priority. That’s why we talk about how we want our employees to be safe whether they’re at work, at home, or somewhere in between. We truly care about our employees, and it shows in our concern for their well-being. With that feeling of knowing someone is looking out for you, it can’t help but improve overall morale.
PBN: Visual controls, such as reminder posters and walkway tape, are something the company has mentioned as part of its safety improvements. Can you explain why they are important?
SEIDMAN: Visual controls are located throughout the plant and at every workstation and process point, including hallways and floors. These serve as friendly reminders – to use safety glasses, to think before you act, to ensure a clean workspace – as our employees carry on throughout the day.
PBN: How would you describe the company’s safety efforts before the 1,000 days and after?
SEIDMAN: Our approach to safety has stayed consistent throughout this time – it’s how we reached the 1,000-day milestone and how we plan to reach many more milestones. It takes a team to keep everyone safe, so we make sure to communicate that safety is everyone’s job! We also reward employees with days off if they identify near-miss incidents or other hazards before they become an issue.
PBN: Is there one particular change that has made the most difference?
SEIDMAN: Awareness is key. Through our emphasis on safety, we are building up our employees’ safety capabilities as we work to become the safest plant to work for in the country.
PBN: Keeping people safe is important. But from a business standpoint, NFI Corp. has seen value in terms of productivity and innovation. Can you explain?
SEIDMAN: Our focus on safety definitely contributes to our ability to remain productive and innovative. We don’t suffer from lost productivity due to safety issues. And because our employees know they are being taken care of – their well-being is being looked after – they are more likely to use their mental energy toward positive pursuits, which frequently result in more innovative and productive approaches.
Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.
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