TPI Composites has the right tools to maintain a safe environment

SAFETY FIRST: Laurie Haruben, foreground, TPI Composites Inc.’s plant manager, and her team have implemented several initiatives at the Warren facility to maintain and improve workplace safety. 
SAFETY FIRST: Laurie Haruben, foreground, TPI Composites Inc.’s plant manager, and her team have implemented several initiatives at the Warren facility to maintain and improve workplace safety. 

PBN Manufacturing Awards 2022
TPI Composites Inc.

WORKING FOR CUSTOMERS in the turbine and automotive industries, such as General Electric Co. and Proterra, Warren-based composites manufacturer TPI Composites Inc. has dedicated itself over the past few years to serving its customers, while improving its safety and performance.

The company’s recent safety culture program, called Journey to Zero, aims to reduce its incident rate of safety issues and workplace accidents, such as an employee getting cut or getting something in their eyes, to zero incidents. The program has been successful in greatly lowering the incident rate, according to TPI Senior Director Pamela Lynch.

“We had an overall vision to improve [workplace safety],” Lynch said. “We thought, ‘How are we going to achieve everything?’ ”

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The company, therefore, focused on reducing quality issues and correcting problems for its employees in a manner that is more methodical than anything it has done before.

TPI Composites implemented several programs within the last year designed to improve safety and performance, including visually managing workspaces, housekeeping to further reduce dust and keep physical materials organized, and running hazard assessments. Those resulted in useful tools such as reels, ramps and personal protective equipment for employee use. Ramps in particular ensure employees are not bending over constantly in the course of their work, alleviating back injuries. Smaller buffers have also helped employees with ergonomic issues.

Plant Manager Laurie Haruben has been vital to the company over the past couple of years by helping to improve safety and performance. “Laurie identified areas that needed support and improvement and worked closely with plant leadership to strengthen operational cadence and improve performance,” Lynch said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, TPI Composites focused on expanding its manufacturing and transportation sectors. Additionally, the company’s Rhode Island office underwent a major renovation within the last two years, which included upgrading the manufacturing floor layout, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and lighting. Lynch says these fixes have improved working conditions for employees.

While working on safety and performance as a company, TPI Composites has greatly encouraged its employees to get involved in improving both areas as well. Behavior-based observation forms allow employees to write about risks they noticed regarding another employee or a procedure that could become dangerous down the line and should therefore be improved. Communication about health and safety with employees has also been ongoing in three different languages and, Lynch said, the change has been “engaging in the best way.”

Haruben has also continued to focus heavily on safety. She said the team is “also open to benchmarking other organizations who have an excellent track record to bring new and innovative ideas to our work areas.”

“Laurie’s leadership is the reason TPI has more than doubled our manufacturing production outputs and has paved the way for future automotive business,” Materials Manager Lucy Matos said. “Laurie has made improvements in overall plant layout, processes and reinforced a strong commitment to quality being built into our deliverables, while also creating a culture of engagement, trust and pride in our collective accomplishments.”

Environmental and Sustainability Manager Michael Scannell said TPI Composites had its overall lowest lost-time incident rate and recordable incident rate in 2021, both of which show great improvements in performance and safety. The lost-time incident rate measures the amount of time lost when working due to an incident such as a broken leg, while the recordable incident rate measures the total amount of incidents that occurred on a work site within a year. The company has also begun using lean manufacturing to reduce time used during different manufacturing ­processes.

TPI Composites weathered the pandemic by making sure its customers received what they needed and implementing its vision to improve. The company’s performance and safety measures stayed strong and even improved due to dedicated employees jumping in and sharing their own ideas for what would improve the company and make a critical impact.

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