Safety Matters: The Game of a Lifetime at EnTrans

EnTrans International is the parent company of Heil Trailer, Polar Tank Trailer, Polar Service Centers, Kalyn Siebert, SERVA and Jarco. Our Company experienced rapid growth over the last few years and currently operates 11 manufacturing facilities and 28 service centers in six countries. As brands and locations were added to our portfolio, EnTrans was faced with the challenge of creating a consistent culture of safety that aligned our entire network.

Using gamification to enhance safety in manufacturing.

While we had a safety program in place, it lacked engagement by operations personnel. Facilities were in a reactive mode rather than taking proactive measures to address safety risks.

Reflecting the baseball theme for the 2018 Safety Matters program, a baseball-themed hand champion program promotes hand safety. Employees are given a small item during each meeting (shown are employees with foam baseball mitts).

Reflecting the baseball theme for the 2018 Safety Matters program, a baseball-themed hand champion program promotes hand safety. Employees are given a small item during each meeting (shown are employees with foam baseball mitts).

Determined to develop a more effective safety program, our Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) team conducted employee interviews and surveys to identify personal attitudes about safety. The team also researched behavior-based safety tools and error reduction programs that could help EnTrans become more proactive. A review of current metrics and data reporting found only lagging indicators were being measured, such as injuries. Leading indicators, including training, internal auditing and the implementation of behavior-based tools, also needed to be measured.

Using the research results, a company-wide safety program called Safety Matters was developed. Jake Radish, President of Kalyn Siebert said, “The Safety Matters program provides employees a framework, tools, training and technologies that empower them to change how they work, how they identify and fix potential issues and increase overall safety awareness—all with the goal of creating a 100% injury-free workplace.”

We’ve created a thriving safety culture by using game-inspired elements that drive employee engagement.

Competition & Reward

Millions of people flock to sporting events every year to experience the excitement of watching athletes compete. In business, competition is a powerful driver of innovation and positive change. That’s why we designed Safety Matters with a competitive element. EnTrans facilities compete to earn the most points in eight categories ranging from safety improvements to training, metrics and inspections/audits. The winner earns the overall Safety Matters award, which includes a display plaque, an all-employee lunch, employee giveaway and a drawing for monetary prizes.

In an effort to level the playing field, we incorporated multiple opportunities to earn recognition within the Safety Matters program. Locations that outperform in the established safety categories and also earn high scores on the company’s safety culture assessment earn the CEO’s Award for Safety. Facilities new to the EnTrans family have an opportunity to be recognized for their strides in safety with the CEO’s Most Improved Award.

Risk

A principal mechanism of effective games is risk. Feeling a sense of risk heightens attention and focuses energy on achieving the tasks necessary to remove the peril. To amplify the focus on safety, we began tying safety performance to our monthly bonus system. To receive productivity, quality, efficiency and delivery bonuses, our facilities must earn 70% of the eligible safety points each month. When Safety Matters was first introduced, our plants were barely earning more than 26 of the 36 points they can earn in the program. Today, most facilities average between 30-34 points per month.

Adaptation

Perhaps the most engaging aspect of games is the users’ ability to immerse themselves in the virtual world. Designing their own personal avatar and defining desired attributes allows players to customize their experience within a game. In a similar way, we adapted our safety program to meet the personal learning preferences of our employees.

Baby boomers prefer to learn in ways that are different from millennials or those of other generations. And, as an international company, we have employees who may have the ability to fluently speak a language different than their own, but prefer to receive training in their native tongue. We recognize these differences and provide safety training in a number of languages and delivery methods. Our blended learning program incorporates web-based and instructor-led training, as well as BYO L&L (Bring Your Own Lunch & Learn) webinars for managers, safety leaders and supervisors.

Visual Engagement

Every good game uses visuals to connect with and engage players. Each location displays life-size cut-outs on which are marked injuries that occur throughout the year. The visual is placed in a high-visibility area for employees. The Safety Matters program has an annual theme, so the cutout follows that theme. For example, in 2017, the theme was NASCAR, so facilities had cut-outs of their favorite drivers, with the idea that if an employee gets hurt, the driver does as well. It provides a constant visual reminder and keeps safety at the forefront.

“Mr. Injury”—an example of the visual reminders used at EnTrans plants to show where injuries have been sustained during the year. The bandages represent the locations of injuries.

Technology

From facial and voice recognition to gesture control and virtual reality, video games use the latest innovative technologies. At EnTrans, we also use advanced technologies and processes. “Some of the technologies we use have been adapted from other industries,” explained Derrick Healey, Director of Environmental Health & Safety at Polar Service Centers. “We attend safety conferences of other industries to see what issues they’ve experienced and the solutions developed that could be applied at our locations.”

For example, the company uses the Blackline Safety® system, which was originally developed for the utilities and railroad industries to maintain communication with employees working in remote areas. We use it for confined space communication because it allows attendants outside a tank trailer to talk and text with workers welding inside. The messages are monitored off-site, and as an added measure of safety, team leaders and supervisors also monitor them.

Another technology used at our tank trailer manufacturing locations is the Man Down Alarm, which protects employees who weld inside the tanks. An alarm sounds if a team member hasn’t moved within a set time and notifies those outside to provide immediate assistance.

EnTrans employee wearing the Black Line® safety system.

The End Game

When a game is over, it usually provides the player’s stats, achievements and performance. Since the introduction of our Safety Matters program, we’ve realized significant results:

  • A reduction of more than 50% in recordable injuries since before the program began
  • Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) has fallen from 6 to 2.1 (industry average is 7.32)
  • Industry recognition at four EnTrans facilities that received Plant Safety Awards from the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA)

Doug Chapple, CEO of EnTrans International, said, “We have seen a drastic increase in employee engagement at all levels of the organization since Safety Matters began. This achievement is the result of our ongoing commitment to safety, to building advanced manufacturing facilities and to creating a culture of safety using fun, engaging techniques.”

Turning to the core elements of games, we’ve awakened a safety culture among our facilities around the world. Game mechanics have inspired employees to actively participate in their own personal safety as well as the safety of their fellow team members. The results tell the story.

Karen Czor is the Director of Environmental Health & Safety for EnTrans International. For the last 28 years, Karen has held positions in the environmental health and safety industry, including owning her own safety and environmental consulting agency. She has helped more than 30 companies implement safety and environmental management systems.