Original Date: 07/25/2005
Revision Date: 09/12/2006
Best Practice : Safety Observers Program
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems’ Safety Observers Program gives non-supervisory personnel a voice in the safety issues they encounter on a daily basis and continues to evolve into an effective tool to manage and implement safety solutions in the company today. The success of the program has helped Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems achieve star certification in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program and to continuously decrease its site accident experience rate.
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (NGES) focuses heavily on the safety of its employees as exemplified in the Safety Observers Program. Originated in 1941, the program was created as a means for non-supervisory personnel to have a voice in the safety features of the processes and facilities they used on a daily basis and has continued to evolve into an effective tool to manage and implement safety solutions in the company. By opening the communication channels between management and non-management employees concerning safety-related issues, NGES provided all employees with an active role in the company’s safety efforts.
The Safety Observers Program consists of 80 to100 volunteer or supervisor-assigned employees who meet each month to identify and discuss potential safety issues related to work practices and working conditions. The goal of the program is to have new safety observers each year so that all employees have the opportunity to take part in the safety of their facility and to disseminate safety information to employees. Monthly meetings have also created a forum for NGES’ Industrial Health and Safety (IH&S) Division to train employees on a wide variety of topics including NGES- specific procedures, chemical safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), safe driving, and other safety topics employees can use outside the work environment. Meeting speakers such as local Emergency Medical Technicians, police, and firefighters discuss safety-related issues and preventive measures. Information reviewed at the Safety Observers meetings is shared with co-workers in a secondary meeting the Safety Observers hold in coordination with their supervisors. Employees’ understanding of the topics reviewed is documented on a Talking Points form that is returned to IH&S and entered into a monthly drawing that gives those employees a chance to win a prize provided by NGES. An annual Safety Teams banquet is also held to inform upper management of the contributions made by the Safety Observers throughout the year.
The NGES Safety Observers Program was recognized in 1999 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a star-certified Voluntary Protection Program site, the first NGES sector site to achieve this award. Of the 52 NGES manufacturing sites, only four have been presented with this award, two of which have occurred within the past year. The Safety Observers Program has also helped continuously decrease site accident experience rates (OSHA- recordable injuries or illnesses) by more than 15% at the Baltimore facility and by more than 27% in all ES sector sites from 2003 to 2004.
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