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From Factories to Corporate Offices, OSI is Updating its Workplace with Safety as the Focus

February 25, 2022

Since launching last year, the Global EHS Council has been working to establish environmental, health and safety (EHS) baselines across OSI regions, share best practices and make recommendations for further alignment.

“There has been a lot of value in getting to know what each region is doing,” said EHS Director of North America Jim Swanson, who serves as the council's safety chair. “This allows us to establish a baseline with a focus on starting to pick our metrics. Before the council, everyone used different drivers and metrics, but if everyone has similar metrics and definitions, we can compare in a fair way about how we’re performing and share our story.”

The council is composed of EHS leaders across OSI as well as EHS managers and leaders from all global zones — North America, Europe, Australia, India and China. In the last year, the group has ramped up idea sharing in a larger pursuit of a new global standard for safety. The council's work reflects OSI's broader focus on global alignment, which pertains to everything from food safety to emissions accounting practices. It also reflects our stakeholders' increased focus on workplace safety — a shift we noted in our last Global Sustainability Report and that has been guiding improvements from our corporate offices to factory floors.

While it will take some time for the council to realize all of its ambitions, its impact is already being felt across the organization.

New Systems, Metrics and Technology

OSI has already started implementing an EHS integration in the capital approval process. The early participation aims to prevent safety issues in capital projects across the company and identify additional environmental or safety benefits. Under the new system, all capital projects go through local EHS teams who look for potential issues and opportunities for improvement before they move to corporate levels.

“If I know the projects coming through and that there are safety people reviewing these projects locally, the likelihood of creating a potential issue in a facility is minimized,” said Swanson. “The more visibility EHS has into projects and operations, the bigger the impact we can have.”

OSI North America, meanwhile, just completed its first year with Safety Performance Rating (SPR) as the main safety metric, which includes both leading and lagging indicators to better gauge overall safety performance. Incorporating leading indicators provides leaders with insight into things we want, such as training, safety talks, safety committees and safety walkthroughs, while still including lagging indicators (injury rates), which we do not want.

Additionally, all of OSI’s facilities in North America now have access to a cutting edge space management tool called Brady Link360. This tool provides easy document management and workflow automation that enable best in class Lockout Tagout (LOTO) and Confined Space programs.

To further increase visibility, OSI has also created a safety dashboard in Microsoft's Power BI program for the United States that includes 24 metrics to track through the entries of local EHS managers. This means everyone has a central point for all EHS programs and information. This kind of dashboard can help facilities complete audits and improve their performance by simply having a better understanding of metrics, how they are being measured and how they compare to other facilities.Importantly, OSI’s Corporate EHS Audit is being designed to overlap with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This helps facilities efficiently reach both OSI and ISO’s requirements while minimizing the number of audits facilities need to complete during the year. EHS activities are focused on being value added to ensure the rewards are worth the effort.

Ergonomic Improvements

OSI has also been focusing its efforts on ergonomic improvements, which are essential to workplace health and safety in both office and factory settings. OSI’s Fort Atkinson plant in Wisconsin, for example, recently piloted the Velocity EHS Industrial Ergonomic tool with the intention of rolling it out across all of North America. This system features artificial intelligence (AI) technology to conduct ergonomic assessments of workplace settings in addition to manual assessments to be completed by the ergonomics team. The tool allows for easy management of the entire ergonomics process. It also utilizes motion capture technology that conducts assessments on someone’s phone. The early success at the Fort Atkinson plant has caused others in North America to adopt the technology and associated practices in 2022.

OSI’s corporate headquarters in Aurora, Illinois, meanwhile, underwent a redesign aimed at improving both the comfort and safety of people working in the office setting. OSI installed adjustable motorized chairs and desks, which can accommodate people of all shapes and heights.

Studies show the benefits of these work environments. Standing, increasing motion and optimizing for comfort can reduce fatigue and muscle aches and even decrease risks for serious ailments like diabetes. With the new design, OSI has also incorporated an agile work environment that accommodates hybrid working, with people splitting their time working from home and in the office.

Pieces of a Bigger EHS Puzzle

In order to communicate the importance of all EHS best practices to the wider company, the Global EHS Council is aiming to establish a Health and Safety Week in October and an Environmental Week in May inspired by the success of OSI’s annual Food Safety Week. The idea is to celebrate these weeks annually at all management offices and manufacturing sites. Each week will be marked by activities, events and strategic communication around their respective themes.

Each of these initiatives and investments — whether planned and implemented — are pieces of OSI’s larger workplace safety and EHS puzzle. They reflect our aim to improve individual facility performances, get our safety initiatives at or above industry and international organization standards and align across the organization.

“Each initiative on its own may seem like a small step towards our EHS goals,” said Swanson. “But all of these things are globally scalable, and that’s why they were picked. This is only the start, and we’re building from here.”

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