The Five Principles Driving UMC’s Top 5% Safety Culture
Safety is so much more than avoiding accidents. Success is when every decision we make is guided by a deep understanding and respect for how it will impact safety. Embedding safety into the fabric of our organization is how we keep putting employee safety and wellbeing first, especially as we grow and expand our team.
We use five core principles to lay the foundation for our approach to building an industry-leading safety culture.
1. Always Put People First
Employee well being has always been at the core of UMC culture. From providing reimbursement for safety shoes and personal protective equipment to designing a facility with ample natural lighting, many decisions have centered around creating an environment employees want to spend time in. We have expanded on the idea of putting people first with investments in areas such as training and development, facility enhancements, and other benefits to improve employees’ work lives.
For safety to thrive, people have to know and feel they are valued, and that starts with building strategy and plans based on positively impacting people first.
2. Invest in Taking Safety to the Next Level
Some new employees are surprised to learn about the high level of reimbursement we offer for safety equipment. We keep an assortment of safety items, such as safety glasses and hearing protection, stocked on-site for everyone to access freely. We’ve also made investments in strengthening our overall safety program by partnering with OSHA/Environmental Compliance Systems, Inc. (OECS), a safety compliance consulting company, which assists with custom program development, training, and auditing.
We’ve committed to investing in improvements wherever there’s an opportunity.
3. Put Safety on the Agenda
Safety issues and measures are regular topics of discussion at UMC. As part of the on-boarding processes and ongoing monthly training, everyone is trained on safety and made aware of our goals and challenges.
A portion of all-employee meetings and monthly employee newsletters are dedicated to covering safety. Leaders and managers make it a point to frequently share safety-related topics that pertain to employees’ work and home environments.
Building safety into company events and communication touch points ensures that we keep holding space to address topics and share information consistently—communicating consistently means we’re always thinking about it and making it a part of the culture, rather than a task on the to-do list.
4. Empower Everyone to Own Safety
Although we have leaders who oversee safety, everyone owns the goal of employee safety. Our safety committee is a group of leadership, supervisors, and employees on the shop floor that meet every other month to discuss safety topics and resolve safety issues. The group conducts a bimonthly audit, walking the floor and talking to peers about any safety issues with their work stations or processes.
Employees are encouraged to engage with their peers when they are doing something unsafe and to proactively bring issues and ideas to their managers, leadership, or HR through a variety of direct and anonymous communication channels.
The ownership that employees have of safety is noticeable. Tim Peterson, COO at OSHA/Environmental Compliance Systems, Inc. (OECS), says the level of engagement at UMC sets the company apart from others he sees in the industry.
“It’s obvious that at UMC, safety isn’t just a sign on the wall,” he says. “It is truly part of who they are. Employees aren’t just thinking about safety during the training and audits, they are consistently invested in the topic, asking questions, and coming up with new ideas.”
It’s this level of dedication throughout the organization that makes UMC stand out in the top 5 percent of companies OECS has worked with over the past 25 years.
5. Keep Striving for Safety
While we’re proud of our success to date, we know that there is always room for improvement, and we will never stop striving for the next level of safety for our employees and their families. There is nothing more important to UMC than building an environment where people are protected and cared for.
When we’re approaching safety in alignment with our vision, it’s not just a workplace practice. Safety means we’re empowering people with knowledge and passion for keeping themselves and others safe wherever they are.
It’s obvious that at UMC, safety isn’t just a sign on the wall. It is truly part of who they are. Employees aren’t just thinking about safety during the training and audits, they are consistently invested in the topic, asking questions and coming up with new ideas.Tim Peterson, COO at OSHA/ Environmental Compliance Systems, Inc.