Feature Story

Employee Engagement Changes Culture of Safety in Ireland

Employees holding signs and giving hands up to Zero Harm Culture

Baxter facilities in Castlebar and Swinford created the ‘STOP & Think’ campaign to encourage employees to play an active role in maintaining a zero-harm workplace.

Maintaining a safe workspace is fundamental to achieving a zero-harm culture within Baxter facilities, and Baxter’s continual, positive performance demonstrates the company’s commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its employees. In Castlebar and Swinford, Ireland, one management team explored a new way to engage employees in establishing safety as a key value. Called ‘STOP & Think,’ the initiative is leveraged with the Safety Connection – a collaborative online resource for employees to learn about critical safety behaviors necessary for achieving a zero-harm workplace – and encourages employees to play an active role in eliminating potential safety hazards and risks for both themselves and their co-workers.

Together, the Castlebar and Swinford facilities occupy more than 300,000 square feet with more than 1,100 employees total. Both locations support the needs of tens of thousands of dialysis patients around the world, and as they work to save and sustain the lives of others, it’s imperative they maintain a safe culture for both themselves and the patients they serve. As a result of the success of Castlebar and Swinford in achieving more than two years of no recordable accidents, the facilities are now used as a benchmark globally for other Baxter manufacturing sites. Aside from the initial training, the facilities continue to conduct environmental health and safety (EHS) focus groups to analyze other potential areas for safety improvements.

To first introduce the new safety initiative and ensure full adoption among all employees, production at both sites was ceased for training. The main goal of the program was to inspire safe habits in employees’ day-to-day work, such as suggesting employees stop and think when they see a hazard or unsafe act and to pause and take time to document a safety observation or an improvement idea to eliminate any potential risks to employees’ well-being when in the workplace.

“The ‘STOP & Think’ initiative was created out of dedication and passion of our employees to ensuring Baxter is a safe place to work,” Art Gibson, vice president, environment health & safety (EHS) and sustainability at Baxter, said. “Castlebar and Swinford are truly a model of the safety behavior we aspire to create across Baxter’s global operations.”

“The ‘STOP & Think’ initiative was created out of dedication and passion of our employees to ensuring Baxter is a safe place to work. Castlebar and Swinford are truly a model of the safety behavior we aspire to create across Baxter’s global operations.”

- Art Gibson, vice president, environment health & safety (EHS) and sustainability at Baxter

Since all employees are continually accountable for the safety of both themselves and their colleagues, training for the new safety initiative was interactive and incorporated various multimedia tools for visual, engaging content. Training sessions were led by department functional managers with support from supervisors and EHS team members, reinforcing the commitment to the new safety approach at all levels.

To continue employee engagement on an ongoing basis, the EHS teams introduced observation work stations and continue to conduct a monthly drawing for participants. Employees are encouraged to submit ideas for new safety initiatives on potential safety hazards and improvements that can be made in the current environment. With this new tool facilitating each employee to easily report improvement ideas, the reporting rate increased by 72 percent, tripling safety ideas from staff members.

To generate enthusiasm around efforts to maintain a zero-harm workplace, the Castlebar and Swinford facilities developed highly memorable visuals that were included in presentations, hung in signage around each site and used on any program related material. The additional branding was instrumental in establishing a culture shift. As opposed to simple technical training and information, employees were consistently reminded to think about the safety of themselves and their colleagues.

“The roll out of ‘STOP & Think’ and The Safety Connection resources at Castlebar and Swinford took our attitude on accident prevention and shared responsibility to a new level,” Ciaran Geraghty, plant manager at Baxter’s Ireland facility, said. “Employee engagement on safety is very evident in our day-to-day activities throughout the facilities and we can clearly see the link between raising safety observations and volume of improvement ideas and accident preventions.”