Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with employees at Par Pharmaceutical in Irvine, CA. I was invited to speak on “Finding the Safety Champion Within” to help kick-off of their SAVE YOUR BUDDY Safety Pledge initiative. This is an incredibly important step in their quest to be be a Safety First company, and from my experience meeting their employees, I know they have what it takes to be incident-free.
Many in the audience reflected on my own workplace accident, which almost took my life. That incident started with safety hazards that were overlooked, setting off a fatal chain of events that killed many and destroyed the Corpus Christi Public Grain Elevator. The deadly catastrophe was made possible because management refused to make necessary repairs, and an employee was negligent in performing duties he had already been doing for decades, and should have been doing correctly. In other words, it was far from a Safety First environment.
At a pharmaceutical company, just as in any other industry, there are a unique set of safety challenges that must be addressed. Fortunately, the methods for doing so are proven and reliable if they are practiced consistently and effectively. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary for protecting worker health and safety. There is no case in which a worker should disregard basic PPE procedures, or allow any other team member to do so.
The use of chemical compounds and solvents also poses a potential safety hazard. If mishandled, certain solvents can explode with enough force to destroy a city block. Par has carefully documented safety guidelines and detailed production steps to eliminate risk – but only if they are observed by every single worker, on every single shift.
At Par, each shift begins with a Daily Huddle that allows the team to discuss safety hazards that must be addressed. This is a critical moment, enabling every participant to share any concerns they may have observed so that coworkers are on the same page and able to work out a solution. Identifying risks, communicating across teams and being proactive with solutions allows the entire organization to run smoothly and with no near misses, incidents or accidents.
I am confident that Par’s Safety Leaders are committed to making sure each employee has the knowledge, training, equipment and power to contribute to Par’s continued success and status as a Safety Champion.
Anyone who has heard me speak knows I believe that Sports is the best parallel to the world of business. On a competitive Power 5 football team, the coaching staff has to always be one move ahead of the opponent and work with the team to overcome all challenges…That’s what the Safety team does in a company like Par, maintaining a safe working environment by identifying all potential safety hazards. All employees on a team have to hold each other accountable, and they have to watch each other’s backs…that’s what we call FAMILY! I urge all companies out there, and all workers, to commit to being Safety Champions.