ELYRIA, Ohio –The organization dedicated to setting the industry safety standard for commercial vehicles throughout North America remains equally committed to organizational safety. Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC (Bendix) logged one of its safest years in 2019, following on the heels of its safest year ever, achieved in 2018. The company sustained leading-edge safety performance in 2019, even while fulfilling record sales and production levels for the third year running.
With a Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) of recordable injuries that was far lower than the industry average, the five Bendix manufacturing campuses across North America continued to practice preventive and corrective safety programs in support of its zero-injuries goal. Eleven of Bendix’s 21 North American locations finished the year with no recordable injuries.
“The safety record we achieved in 2019 marks truly world-class performance. It’s also a powerful testament to the safety commitment our employees make every day when they come to work,” said Carlos Hungria, Bendix chief operating officer. “Safe operations are the foundation of Bendix’s company culture and a tenet of our success. We don’t compromise on safety or safe operations, whether in making our products, putting them into the market, or at any point along the way.”
Numbers Help Tell the Tale
Bendix’s workplace safety performance, measured annually by TCIR, was in line with the outstanding results achieved in 2018. TCIR measures the total number of recordable injuries per 100 workers per year. In 2019, Bendix achieved a TCIR of 0.64, a number that is far below the industry average.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the TCIR for similar manufacturing facilities in 2018 was 3.2. A recordable injury or accident in the workplace is defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) as a workplace injury that requires medical attention beyond first aid. In 2018, Bendix’s TCIR of 0.48 marked the lowest in company history.
Of Bendix’s 21 North American locations, more than half achieved significant safety milestones in 2019. Eleven sites surpassed the one-year mark without a recordable injury.
Other noteworthy milestones for length of time free of recordable injuries include 2 years at Plant 3 in the Acuña, Mexico, campus and the R&D center in Kalamazoo, Michigan; and the 1-year mark for the company’s newest locations in Monterrey, Mexico, and Lebanon, Tennessee. They join the ranks of the company’s consistently top-performing locations including Montreal, Canada, which completed more than 16 years of operations with no recordable injuries; and the Mexico City, Mexico, and Vancouver, Canada, locations, which have experienced no recordable injuries for more than 11 years. Other noteworthy milestones for length of time free of recordable injuries included nine years in Sparks, Nevada, and eight years in Irvine, California.
Making Bendix’s outstanding safety performance more impressive is that it occurred even as Bendix plants fulfilled record production and distribution levels for the third year in a row.
As a related achievement, in November, Bendix was named to EHS Today’s 2019 list of America’s Safest Companies, one of 15 companies selected for the honor by the publication’s editors. EHS Today is a magazine for environment, health, and safety leaders. The annual award recognizes U.S. companies for their outstanding safety efforts and achievements.
Systems to Drive Safety
Bendix credits the combination of strong commitment by leadership and mature safety processes for its sustained safety performance. Among the broad and consistently applied range of activities in place to help ensure employees and visitors return home safely each evening are annual leadership back-to-work sessions, which feature a message from the Bendix Executive Board and reaffirm the company’s commitment to safety every day; consistent integration of a required Safety Share reminder at the start of all meetings that includes instructions in the event of an emergency, as well as a personal safety tip – applicable for home or work – from a meeting participant; and a multifaceted Safety Walk & Talk program at all Bendix locations incorporating proactive monthly safety audits conducted by leadership and regular executive review. Outcome updates and timely corrective actions resulting from any recordable injury investigation at Bendix manufacturing sites is also part of the company’s comprehensive safety agenda.
According to Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, “Ensuring a deep commitment and an active safety culture is a journey. Our mature safety-oriented processes are integrated into the organization’s Knorr Production System (KPS) lean manufacturing system to help drive safety, quality, productivity, and a continuous improvement mindset. KPS tools and practices have helped quantify improvement activities, increase visibility to safety losses, escalate safety concerns, and drive team-level ownership of safety.”
She continued, “It’s vital that every Bendix team member is engaged and empowered to step up when it comes to safety. That’s why our processes include both preventive and corrective programs that empower our team members to identify and correct risks. Guided by Bendix’s Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) team, activities range from regularly sharing lessons learned from any incident across all Bendix locations to identify and eliminate similar risks, to empowering every individual with a ‘STOP Work Authority’ to stop any activity they believe puts them or a co-worker at risk.”
Gutierrez noted that the company’s Safety STARS (Safety Top Achievement Recognition System) program drives employee engagement, encouraging employees to report unsafe conditions and behaviors, attend safety trainings, and submit ideas (Quick Kaizens) for safety improvements. Aimed at continuous improvement and enhancement, in 2019, the STARS program led to Bendix team members identifying and fixing 143 read-across actions (elimination of similar risks at other locations), over 2,038 unsafe conditions, and more than 1,900 unique safety Quick Kaizens across North America.
For 2020, Bendix is striving to achieve even stronger performance with a focus on highlighting the principles of safety excellence. These foundational and cultural training programs are designed to drive even greater accountability and ownership of safety performance among all levels of the organization to achieve the zero-injuries goal.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved over the last three years. Being named one of America’s Safest Companies, continuing to sustain our safety metrics, and repeatedly surpassing industry safety performance averages are truly remarkable achievements,” Hungria said. “But we realize that safety metrics, like TCIR, are not just numbers – they translate into real people and real lives being impacted. At this point in our safety journey, zero is the only acceptable number and it represents our vision: Zero Injuries – Each Day, Every Day, One Day at a Time.”