A little over two years ago, Stericycle embarked on a journey to build a culture of safety. While we have always prioritized compliance with various regulatory requirements aimed at safeguarding workers, customers and the environment, we wanted to more fully weave a safety mindset into the fabric of our culture. Fast forward to today, and despite the challenges with the current landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence of the progress we are making regarding safety is clear.
Emphasizing Safety Culture by Pursuing a Strategic Approach
The first step was to place an emphasis on safety from the top-down. When Cindy Miller, now Stericycle’s CEO, first joined in late 2018, she immediately established safety was one of our primary focus area and a fundamental principle for Stericycle. Since that time, safety has even been woven in as a performance metric for many leaders across the company as further incentive. As a result, all levels of leadership keep consistent communication with the rest of the organization on the importance of safety, as well as provide updates on performance and improvements.
Another key step was to revamp our training efforts. Most safety programs have an annual training requirement, but we didn’t want to simply check the box in this area. Instead, we established monthly themes where we focus on a certain topic, such as lockout/tagout, vehicle safety, or ergonomics. At the start of each month, we send an email communication to team members reminding them of the training topics that are due that month and then we discuss best practices in weekly newsletters, email communications, staff meetings, and other forums. By directing attention to a topic, we not only build awareness but reinforce the point that every employee plays a crucial role in ensuring a risk-free environment.
We have also expanded the use of our safety and environmental management system, where we document information about safety incidents, including what happened, the results of root cause analyses and timelines for corrective action plans. We periodically conduct audits to ensure we are promptly responding to issues, following best practices and meeting established process-improvement timelines.
Taking it a Step Further with Our Behavior-Based Safety Program
In 2019, we began a broader focus on behavior-based safety where team members are trained on the safe behaviors and job hazards for specific duties. Supervisors observe team members at work, documenting performance and habits using a user-friendly app that communicates with the safety and environmental management system. Supervisors also give feedback and guidance during this time, demonstrating and coaching on best practices and allowing them to shape strong habits in real-time.
Regular reporting is an essential aspect of our safety program. A monthly goals report shows safety metrics by business unit, region and district. Leaders use this report for benchmarking and identifying improvement opportunities. We also include safety metrics on an easy-to-read dashboard, so everyone can see the current state of safety within the organization.
Meaningful Progress Toward Safety Culture in 2020
While our safety performance improved throughout 2018 and 2019, we have seen the most dramatic gains in 2020. Comparing first quarter 2020 to first quarter 2019:
- Our total recordable incident rate (TRIR) is down in North America (22%). This metric is an industry standard that normalizes injury rates per 100 people.
- Another industry standard, lost work injury rate (LWIR), also declined significantly. This metric captures the amount of worker safety incidents that were severe enough that the affected individual was not able to work. North America saw a 31% drop in LWIR.
- There were 26% fewer vehicle incidents due to a newly implemented driver training program.
These statistics paint a picture of a safety culture that is steadily getting stronger, underscoring the value of our strategic efforts to reduce injury and incident risks.
Improving Safety Culture is a Continuous Endeavor
Although we are proud that our safety culture efforts have led to meaningful improved safety outcomes, we are not stopping now. As a company, we are committed to continuously keeping safety top of mind. During the COVID-19 outbreak, this has been especially critical. As with the rest of the world, our staff has a heightened awareness of their safety and the importance of following protocol to prevent illness and injury. As our country begins to open up, and people resume their typical workdays, we will offer additional training to make sure our staff are ready to safely perform their jobs amid a new normal.
Discover more information about Stericycle’s commitment to fostering a culture of safety.