ELYRIA, Ohio — In its pursuit of safe operations, including a goal of zero injuries, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems adopts an attitude of no compromise. In 2018, that unified mindset helped Bendix achieve the safest year in its nearly 90-year history. Bendix plants across North America experienced a 30 percent reduction from 2017’s injury rate. Preventive and corrective safety programs are at the heart of the results, which Bendix is working to build upon in 2019. For its best-ever performance, the company also cites processes that empower employees to improve safety.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a recordable accident as a workplace injury that requires medical attention beyond first aid. Workplace safety performance is measured annually by TCIR (Total Case Incident Rate), which is the total number of recordable injuries per 100 workers per year. In 2018, Bendix’s TCIR of 0.48 marked the lowest in company history. The injury rate for similar manufacturing facilities was 3.0 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“This is a world-class safety milestone, and it’s a wonderful commentary on the men and women who come to work day in and day out at Bendix absolutely committed to performing their jobs safely,” said Carlos Hungria, Bendix chief operating officer. “Uncompromising safety plays a critical role in the success of our company. Our goal of zero injuries drives us. And our values and safety rituals direct the way we complete each task to ensure the safety of each employee, every day.”
Of Bendix’s 18 North American locations, nearly all achieved significant safety milestones in 2018. Twelve sites surpassed the one-year mark without a recordable injury. Other noteworthy milestones for length of time free of recordable injuries include five years at Plant 2 on the Huntington, Indiana, campus; the remote members of the sales and service team; and the locations in Irvine, California, and Sparks, Nevada. The locations in Mexico City, Mexico, and Vancouver, Canada, surpassed the 10-year injury-free mark; and the Montreal, Canada, site continued to lead the way at over 15 years of safe operations.
Bendix has implemented mature safety processes, which continue to drive noticeable improvement in year-over-year safety results. Part of the long-term strategy of the Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) team, these processes range from a 24-hour incident notification and containment policy, to lessons learned from incident sharing across all of Bendix’s plants to identify and eliminate similar risks.
In addition, engagement opportunities through the Safety STARS (Safety Top Achievement Recognition System) program enables employees to take on a key role in identifying unsafe conditions, unsafe behaviors, and safety improvements.
Key to the success of the safety program has been the integration with the Knorr Production System (KPS) quality, productivity, and continuous improvement culture. KPS is practiced worldwide throughout the Munich, Germany-based Knorr-Bremse Group, of which Bendix is a member.
KPS tools and rituals have helped quantify improvement activities, increase visibility to safety losses, escalate safety concerns, and drive team-level ownership of safety.
In 2018, Bendix employees closed 120 read-across actions (elimination of similar risks at other locations), reported and fixed over 2,000 unsafe conditions, and identified and implemented over 2,500 safety Quick Kaizens (improvement ideas).
“It is very impressive and rewarding to be able to quantify the impact the program is having,” said Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability. “At the same time, Bendix realizes that the safety metrics, including TCIR, are not just numbers – they translate into real people and real lives being impacted. At this point in the Bendix safety journey, zero is the only acceptable number and it represents our vision, starting with the senior leadership and permeating through the workforce.”
With its goal of zero injuries firmly embedded in the company culture, Bendix continually finds innovative ways to showcase safety as a core value, while consistently challenging the organization to recommit to safety, Gutierrez said.
“Company leadership understands that safety is still driven by personal choices on a daily basis. For that reason, employees are encouraged to take the HSE pledge, in which they commit to choose safety — each day, every day, one day at a time.