Building better safety systems is at the heart of James Hardie’s Zero Harm program. Safety is embedded in our corporate culture 24/7 across our global operations. Our program is based on the belief that we are all our brother’s and sister’s keeper when it comes to a safe workplace. We empower our employees to be proactive and we believe every incident is preventable.
July 28, 2021 marked an important date demonstrating the commitment to safety at James Hardie. When we observed an adverse trend in the number of incidents, management planned and executed a safety reset which included all North American operations.
The reset involved shutting down operations to ask employees: What do you see are the hindrances to true Zero Harm? The safety steering committee benefitted from lessons learned when a reset was carried out in Australia in February 2021.
Although safety incidents were trending upward in North America, the majority were minor sprain/strain injuries. This increase correlated to the hiring of additional workers during production ramp-up to meet demand. Other contributing factors included impacts of COVID-19: distractions at work, employees leaving their jobs, and challenges training new hires in person. Of the incidents reported, 51% involved new hires. The data, along with operator feedback during the safety reset, led to improvements in new employee orientation and training.
New hire training now places a greater emphasis on hands-on learning. Also, safety protocols have been standardized across the globe for all employees, contractors and anyone visiting our facilities.
In addition to enhanced training and safety measures, the reset increased employee engagement and responsibility. The fact that the shutdown occurred when there was high market demand for Hardie® products sent a strong message to employees. “Our Safety Day event proved the importance of making safety actionable at the start of every shift,” said Nick Tzourtzouklis, Director of EHS. “Using the data and feedback we collected, we’re working to get more predictive in measuring our safety culture and environment.”