YKK Stories

2018-01-08 Issue 29 Fundamental Behavior 2 Be Vigilant About Safety

February 19, 2019
Author: YKK
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“Worry about the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves,” is an old saying about money that can also be applied to safety. Focus on the ‘small’ every day safety requirements and the big problem of injury accidents will go away.

I had the pleasure of working for Georgia-Pacific before I had the chance to join YKK. One of the factories I worked with at GP had a long history of safety problems. Six months after a new factory manager was assigned there, accidents suddenly stopped. I was curious about what the manager did to change the employees’ focus on safety, so I went out to visit him.

The factory manager I met was a soft spoken man. He really did not have any secrets to share. He did not threaten and he did not yell. He simply and clearly outlined expectations and duties for his employees. He held his team, and himself, accountable to all safety protocols. Most importantly, he made sure no one took shortcuts, especially on the ‘little’ things. That was it!

As we walked through the plant, I noticed he made a habit of stopping to check safety logs, tag out boards, and fireproof cabinets. His habits also included picking up any loose pieces of plastic or paper he saw. Finally, he never strayed outside the painted walkways. Ever. If he had to speak with someone ten yards away across the hall, he followed the walkways around the edges of the floor even if it added several minutes to his walk. He did not take shortcuts. He made every step with a commitment to these ‘little’ things. His staff obviously saw his example, and they followed it.

This manager’s focus came from the understanding that there are no ‘little’ things when it comes to safety. Adherence to all safety requirements, no matter how mundane, will lead to fewer accidents, and that is a ‘big’ thing!



Jim Reed President
YKK Corporation of America