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Does your CEO "get it" about the value of worker safety and health?

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2010 CEOs Who 'Get It'

February 1, 2010

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Daniel Nobbe

Plant Leader
Fiberteq LLC

Fiberteq LLC, located in Danville, IL, produces wet-formed fiberglass mat, which is the substrate for asphalt roofing shingles in the roofing industry. The company has 79 employees..

Why is safety a core value at your company?

Safety at Fiberteq is our core value because our employees and their families are by far what we treasure most. By creating a culture where safety is valued, you protect your people from harm, which not only benefits the organization but, more important, has a positive impact on employees’ lives and the lives of their families. We want our employees returning home to their families and friends every day. In return, our employees are loyal, engaged, and committed to making Fiberteq a safe and great company.

How do you instill a sense of safety in your employees on an ongoing basis?

We employ a concept we developed called “Living Safely … A Personal Choice.” This concept encompasses all facets of safety, including training, accountability and the empowerment of employees. It embraces safety at work as well as outside of work.

It starts with the plant’s leadership being totally committed to safety. In the first few hours of employment, I personally sit down with each new employee to get to know them and discuss my philosophy of “Safety is Fiberteq’s No. 1 Value.” I explain that I would rather shut the line down, send everyone home and resign my position versus meeting one of their loved ones in the emergency room or a funeral home. Working safely is a condition of employment here. That is the start to a continuous daily effort throughout the facility to keep safety in every thought of every employee. In addition, I explain to each individual what “living safety” will do for them and their families.

At work, we use every method possible to keep safety in front of everyone. We put every employee through 10-hour OSHA certification training, employees attend monthly safety meetings and each employee completes weekly safety talks. We also sponsor people-based safety training, support and finance an independent employee-driven safety team, and make safety a major part of the employee incentive program.

What is the biggest obstacle to safety in your workplace, and how do you work to overcome it?

Complacency. As we have instilled the culture of living safely and corrected many of the daily safety issues, there becomes a point where your employees take working safely for granted. In other words, they feel safe because of the culture. This can lead to losing sight of using good safety practices while performing your daily routine tasks. Many of our workers have several years of experience doing their job. While good in terms of efficiencies, we are constantly concerned about people going through the motions without thinking about safety.

To combat this, no employee stays at one position. Employees change work stations hourly, daily or weekly within job classifications. In addition, we emphasize the importance of doing the job correctly using the proper tools and procedures.

How important is off-the-job safety to your company’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety programs does your company offer to employees?

It’s big! I have yet to meet an employee that can turn on safety and turn off safety when they walk through the door. You must be safe all the time. As our motto goes, “Living Safely … A Personal Choice.” At Fiberteq, we all understand what safety is and that it has to be practiced outside of work as well. We offer a variety of programs to get not only employees thinking about safety but also their families. This includes items such as mailing safety tips sheets to employee homes, allowing employees to take home personal protective equipment for home projects, fire extinguisher training for family members, purchasing safety gifts at Christmas, and paying spouses for getting a physical. We do everything we can think of to get the entire family involved.

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