Safety is something that’s taken very seriously at the 2009 Assembly Plant of the Year. In fact, Batesville Manchester’s large water tower sports an outline of the state of Tennessee with the slogan “Volunteer for Safety.” Communication and education also play a key role in the process.

Assembly Plant of the Year. In fact, Batesville Manchester’s large water tower sports an outline of the state of Tennessee with the slogan “Volunteer for Safety.”

“We never compromise on safety,” says Mary Jo Cartwright, director of operations. “Safety comes first in everything we do. As a result of this attitude, we have changed our culture. In an industry where the recordable injury rate is over 9, we are currently running an RIR of 1.4.

“These amazing results come from being proactive through safety committees, accident investigation, root-cause-countermeasure analysis and behavioral observation, in [addition to] eliminating potential hazards and addressing ergonomic improvements,” adds Cartwright, who formerly served as head of human resources at the plant. “We challenge team [members] to find a safety or ergonomic improvement daily, as well.

“Many of these items are quickly corrected, such as removal of a sharp corner, height changes or different placement of work items,” Cartwright points out. “We have also addressed ergonomic issues and concerns by incorporating improvements in automation.”

Communication and education also play a key role in the process. For instance, daily continuous improvement meetings have updates on safety and safe practices. “Our associates communicate to each other concerning safe work practices,” says Cartwright.

Last year, Batesville Manchester was recognized by the National Safety Council with its Occupational Excellence Award for outstanding safety performance. In addition, the plant has received the National Safety Council’s Perfect Record Award for at least 12 months without a lost work day injury and the Million Work Hours Award for going at least 1 million hours without a lost work day injury.