Author Archives: Adrienne M. Selko

Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things

As Kathleen Murphy, CIH, steps into her new role as president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) this month, she will lean on a career that encompasses more than 25 years of experience within business, consulting and government. Currently serving as director, global regulatory affairs for paint and coatings manufacturer Sherwin Williams Co., she has also worked at global corporations such as PolyOne, Honeywell and ExxonMobil.  “I have been fortunate to have held a variety of jobs in industry, consulting and OSHA,” Murphy says. “My background helps me to understand the needs of many of our members who represent a very diverse set of expectations.” Her various roles within AIHA leadership in recent years have also helped her to understand how AIHA functions. “We are a complex organization with everything from IT and financial obligations to proficiency analytical testing (PAT), accreditation, standards engagement, registries, training/education and the Product Stewardship Society.” EHS Today asked Murphy to talk about her background, leadership style and how she envisions the future of the field.  What got you interested in a career in industrial hygiene?  Murphy: Like many others, I found IH by accident when my sister suggested I apply for a job with OSHA. I worked hard to learn IH, became a CIH and have never looked back. It has truly been a rewarding career. What are some of the top trends that will affect the industry over the next few years?  Murphy: Retirements will continue to impact our membership and our profession. Increased data creates challenges on how to use it; how to set occupational exposure limits (OELs); what privacy protections need to be put into place; and how to explain the results to workers and their organizations.  The move from manufacturing to service industry or contract work will continue to challenge how to characterize their exposures and capture the data for future use. Do you feel that the current state of worker health is better than in the past?  Murphy: Yes and no. We have better methods of detection of illness and many new treatments for diseases than we did in the past, but we also face new hazards like exposure to opioids or cannabis for workers. Also, ergonomic injuries and hearing loss continue to affect our aging workforce. Have technology and the increased availability of data provided better health outcomes? Murphy: Electronic health records may provide data that was difficult to mine in the past, but it also brings questions of privacy. The challenge with some of the new technology is that there are vast amounts of data instead of a few data points. We need to learn how to mine the data to identify health outcomes earlier than was previously possible. How has the practice of IH changed?  Murphy: The “how” has changed or is changing but not the basic principles of anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control. There are new direct reading instruments, sampling pumps and noise monitoring equipment, and OEL setting is moving away from single chemical to banding or other risk determination measures. Industrial hygiene professionals remain passionate protectors of worker health while learning new ways to approach their jobs. How would you characterize your leadership style? Murphy: Inclusive. I try to gather ideas from everyone and then select from the best ideas. My current team knows that we will agree to a path forward, think about it for a few days, then tweak it to be even better.  AIHA has used our Open Call process to try to get more of our members involved and to provide greater transparency, which I think is really important. I am also very interested in career and succession planning and this applies to my job as well as my volunteer work. What are some of the strategies the field is using to attract younger professional? Murphy: We have developed materials to be used from elementary school through emeritus IH to show what is possible in the profession. Mentoring young professionals and providing them with career coaching and leadership training are also important ways to connect with them.  We need to emphasize some of the softer side of our profession, which is about protecting workers and improving health outcomes in addition to our normal message about STEM. Sharing our stories whenever we can, using a message targeted to the audience, will continue to be a winning strategy. What advice would you offer to young practitioners?  Murphy: Work hard, get certified and don’t be afraid to try new things. The variety of jobs that I have held because I was willing to try something different has rewarded me with great jobs, meeting great people, visiting a wide variety of work locations in a lot of interesting places and, most importantly, remaining a lifetime learner.  EHS  Let's block ads! (Why?)

Blue-Collar AI Can Solve Skills Gap

The fear never subsides. Daily, manufacturing managers walk through their plant, see valued workers with years of experience and dread the day when those workers will walk out the door. Not only are these valued team members leaving with their experience, often there are no workers with the skills necessary to step into these large shoes. It’s a huge skills gap, especially in blue-collar positions. But what if there was a different approach to solving this skills gap? One company, contextere, believes that “all people are skilled but are simply not presented with the right information and technology to apply those skills.” Gabe Batstone, CEO of contextere, founded his company to employ technology to provide those skills.  Based on his technology experience in a number of sectors, including aerospace, his vision was to bring all of the data culled from AI, directly to the workers on the line. As he explains it: “Warm hands still touch cold steel and the information on how to be safe, and productive is just not reaching these workers. These workers have been left behind when it comes to using the data we are collecting and these are the people who are making our trains run and our planes fly.” Batstone says this isn’t a difficult problem to solve since we “have the technology, bid data and AI to contextualize the information for blue collar works and make it consumable.” Having the correction information and training can address areas where improvement is greatly needed. He cites some statistics: --On the safety side there is one incident per day at industrial companies. --On productivity, over 50% of an industrial worker’s day is spent on unproductive activities such as: sifting through data, searching for equipment, and waiting for colleagues. -- On quality, 25% of the time when an industrial employee attempts to install, repair, or maintain complex equipment they make an error. Providing data though IIOT, machine learning, AR and delivering them through wearable devices directly to employees in the plant can resolve those issues. It also has the benefit of fast-tracking learning. With 50-75% of field staff retiring, Batstone points out that industry really doesn’t have the time to train the new workforce in the old ways. “Imagine on the first day of work, you have at your disposable, through a wearable, all of the knowledge of a seasoned employee, in your pocket 24/7.” And when it comes to dealing with machinery, this technology will allow a maintenance employee to have a “conversation” with the machine. These innovations play right into the large issue of worker ability, says Batstone. People can now find the time to do the more interesting, challenging work of problem-solving.  “People can get paid for what’s between their ears,” says Batstone. The company has been working on this product and is in the pilot stage. It will start in the aerospace and defense industry but seems a future market in the are of smart buildings. Looking ahead the company says that they are solving an important problem by “making sense of the overwhelming amount of data and information generated from smart machines and enterprise analytics to help close the gap in skilled workers.”. Let's block ads! (Why?)

A Manufacturer’s Secret to High Productivity, Low Turnover

Richard Palmer, president of Nehemiah Manufacturing, was on a mission. He didn’t know how or when it would happen, he just knew that it would. He wanted to provide jobs for people in Cincinnati who were unable to find them. First, he created a company he called Nehemiah, named after the prophet who rallied the inhabitants of Jerusalem to rebuilt the walls to protect their city.  The company’s mission is to rebuild the city of Cincinnati by giving people jobs and a “renewed hope for the future.” The next step was to find a product line. He and his management team at Nehemiah had experience at P&G and in the packaging good industry, so that was the place to start. In 2009 the company secured the license to manage the Pampers Kandoo line of toddler products from P&G. When he opened the doors, one of the first people who came to him looking for a job was a former felon. Palmer hired him immediately. It worked out so well that currently 90% of his workforce of 130 is comprised of returning citizens, which is the correct term for former felons. “The loyalty of these workers and the productivity is just amazing,” says Palmer. “It’s been a great business decision with a high rate of retention, which is especially important given the labor shortage.” Nehemiah’s turnover is less than 20%, which is about one-third of what most companies in this industry experiences. [embedded content] The company grew quickly. In addition to working with P&G, the company works with other companies to license/acquire brands and launch new product concepts. They design, manufacture, market and sell brands in a variety of product categories. Current brands include Dreft, Febreeze, Downy Ball, and Saline Soothers. Due to the growth, the company was operating out of several locations throughout Greater Cincinnati but wanted to bring operations under one roof. The ideal location presented itself as it was based in an area where the population was chronically unemployed, which was exactly the workforce that Palmer wanted to employ. The city of Cincinnati had purchased a site that was undeveloped due to a past fire and cleaned it up hoping to attract manufacturing to the area. In April of 2017, the Port Authority used its lease structure to assist in the development of a new 182,000 square foot facility for Nehemiah on a 7.7-acre site in Lower Price Hill. The Port’s financing is a portion of the overall incentives and assistance provided to Nehemiah by the City of Cincinnati, REDI Cincinnati and JobsOhio, from which it received a $300,000 revitalization grant. The building, which opened in June of 2018, cost $12 million.  “Nehemiah’s new location illustrates that companies want to grow in Cincinnati’s urban core – to provide accessibility for their workforce and easily tap into our transportation infrastructure,” said Laura Brunner, CEO of The Port. “The Port is proud to support a company that provides a second chance to its employees with our public finance program.” Providing economic development assistance to companies is how Cincinnati envisions its growth, “By revitalizing the area and adding jobs, the Nehemiah project is another great example of how lives are changed through economic growth,” said Kimm Lauterbach, CEO, REDI Cincinnati. Helping Returning Citizens Get Back to Work While offering second chance opportunities to returning citizens has been going on for years, more programs have been created recently in order to fill the growing number of vacant jobs in manufacturing and other sectors.  With almost 700,000 people released from prison each year, it’s a large pool of workers. One way to show returning citizens that they are welcome is to stop asking them about their past. Many states, 29 to be exact, have passed “ban the box” laws which pushes employers to delay criminal background checks until later in the application process. This way potential candidates were not immediately dismissed. Industry is in on the act as well. Trade groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, theNational Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association are backing a “Getting Talent Back to Work” pledge, created by the Society for Human Resource Management, based on the passage of the First Step Act, which was signed into law by President Trump in December  2018. These industry groups, along with other companies, and government bodies, have publicly stated their intentions to recruit and hire people with criminal records. The broad range of groups signing this pledge reflects the more expansive opportunities being given to returning citizens. Giving people a second chance is a core philosophy of Palmer's and is front and center on his company’s website. And to make the second chance transition successful, the company provides life coaching and on-site social workers. Explaining how life-altering this is for employees and the business he says, “The rewards over the past five years have been amazing. In this group, we find rare diamonds – some of the hardest working people we’ve ever seen. In proving themselves, these employees become fiercely loyal – insistent on high quality; positive teamers who help each other; hard chargers who self-sacrifice for the success of all.” Having strong business metrics to accompany the mission, Palmer approached other business and encouraged them to do the same and welcome returning citizens to their workforce. The result was an organization called Beacon of Hope Alliance, which is a partnership of private employers, nonprofits, legal services and religious organizations. The group, which has a physical presence at Nehemiah, offers a blueprint for area companies to learn how to recruit returning citizens Over 80 companies joined and to date over 500 people have been hired. But the numbers only tell part of the story. To truly understand the effect these opportunities you need only to hear from an employee of Nehemiah who said that if it weren’t for this job, he might be back in jail or dead. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Women in Safety: Jana Gessner, PepsiCo's EHS Vice President

In competitive times, companies need an edge.  For PepsiCo that edge takes the shape of the diversity of its workforce. “Evaluating manufacturing in North America and here at PepsiCo, the supply chain continues to modernize and become more complex,“ explains Jana Gessner, vice president for EHS at PepsiCo. “ Complexity requires a workforce that views situations in a new light. Women’s experiences and thought processes are different.” One of those differences, that has been widely studied, is the collaborative style of women. “This style leads to very strong strategic partnerships,” says Gessner. Strong partnerships are part of the diverse and inclusive environment that PepsiCo. has carefully cultivated. “We have women plant managers and have brought women into management roles,” says Gessner. In fact, 29% of the company's supply chain workforce are women.  Work is being done to increase that number. Across PepsiCo, there are several internal programs designed for the development and advancement of women in the supply chain, including a program called LIFT, or Leadership Investment For Tomorrow, which connects executive to sponsor high-potential women for development, visibility and career opportunities. But it's not just leadership roles that are opening up to women. This strategy applies to all job levels at the company. There is a Women’s Inclusion Network which helps keep female frontline associates engaged by helping connect PepsiCo associates with internal and external partners. Building a career is not something that Pepsi leaves to chance. For example, its North America Beverage team is piloting a program called Women in Operations, which connects female supply chain colleagues. “This program offers ‘coffee talks’ where women can discuss issues that are both personal, such as how to balance work and family life, and how to move their careers forward by ensuring their voices are heard at work,” says Gessner. One way to ensure that women choose to build careers at Pepsi is to understand the capabilities of their workforce. “I have 189 people on my team and I have a clear idea of where my talent is and where they want to go,” says Gessner. Through a program called People Planning, employees can decide what types of roles they want and at what locations. “This is a huge advantage for an employee. I can offer people a variety of roles and critical experiences to match their aspirations.” Attracting Talent While ensuring the current talent is retained, the company also needs to attract new talent, which is a top concern of all manufacturing companies. As part of the company’s STEM outreach program, young women at the middle school and high school age are being encouraged to explore STEM careers at PepsiCo.  Through its Career Accelerator Days, PepsiCo associates provide middle and high school students, administrators, teachers and parents with exposure to its careers through demonstrations, discussion and hands-on experiences.  To date, 6,500 students have been reached with a focus on girls and underserved communities. Regular campus visits and social media engagement are also part of the company’s efforts to encourage college students to consider manufacturing careers at PepsiCo. “I find it very exciting to talk to women at college campuses about the issues our company deals with and how they can become involved," says Gessner. “For example, I talk about technology including how it impacts safety. We need to make the connection between scientific developments and manufacturing.” These efforts have been successful as 53% of new manufacturing leadership hires at Frito-Lay were women.  Once these women walk through the front doors at PepsiCo, the company works hard to retain them. Formal programs ensure their continued skill development, which is very important to new employees. A program called the PepsiCo STEM Women’s Community works to foster a work environment that supports and retains PepsiCo Women in STEM careers, including those in supply chain positions.  In addition to career development, mentoring has been shown to be a useful tool in retaining employees.  PepsiCo is a platinum sponsor of Million Women Mentors, a movement that involves 60 corporations across 44 states, working to help young girls and women enter and persist in STEM-related pathways through mentoring relationships. PepsiCo is working to secure 1,000 associate mentors globally by the year 2020. And of course, recognition is key to keeping job satisfaction at high levels. So PepsiCo regularly recognizes the contribution of women in supply chain roles. In 2017 alone, PepsiCo recognized more than 60 North America-based supply chain associates for their extraordinary contributions as part of our annual Chairman’s Circle of Champions awards. Approximately one-third of the honorees were women.  All these programs and strategies are working.  When the company has offered jobs based on-campus recruiting, 90-95% of those who accepted are staying with the company.  “We are seeing diversity across our global supply chain,” says Gessner. The company’s efforts are being recognized externally as well. PepsiCo was a recipient of the first ever Women’s Foodservice Forum Women in Manufacturing Award, which recognizes companies in the manufacturing sector of the food industry with demonstrated commitment to drive gender equity in their organizations and across the industry. Best Practices “Our recipe for success is that we spend a lot of time devising a workplace that meets the needs of our employees, “says Gessner. “The company culture includes humility which I have learned as I have traveled around the world. And we encourage employees to travel and understand different cultures. We provide a work-life balance and want employees to have personal satisfaction in their work. And we are continually working on improving ways to support women in our organization.”

SLC 2018: Six Leading Indicators that Elite Contractors Can’t Do Without

Safety does just happen. It must be embedded into the culture, according to Steve Wiltshire, Director of Safety for the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC).  Speaking at SLC 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky he offered the following steps that contracts can follow which when used in the industry resulted in companies being 670% safer than the industry average. These indicators are based on the group's ABC Step Program has been showed to also lower the Total Recordable Incident Rate ( TRIR) by 85%. The process is a self- evaluation tool comprised of 20 components. A recent report,  the Safety Performance Report, based on over 1.2 billion hours worked in the field from 2017 determined the six leading indicators.  1.Substance Abuse Program 2.New Hire Safety Orientation -- The best programs are three hours in length. 3.Site-Specific Safety Orientation --Enlist C-suite to give a closing summary. 4.ToolboxTalks -- Keep the talks to between 15 and 30 minutes on a single topic and conduct at the job site. 5.Near-Miss-/Near Hit Analysis now Called Good Catch --  The new phrase helps build a culture of trust so that if someone reports something that won't be disciplined. 6.Site Safety Committee - Best practice is to have frequent inspections.  In order to deliver these steps, the leadership must be strong. According to Wiltshire, there are four key components that characterize “uncompromising safety leaders” -- have courage, be comfortable being out in front while everyone else is behind them, take a stand when no one else will and they get their energy from transforming and challenging the status quo. To develop leaders Wiltshire outlines some basic leadership traits: Be authentic – People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Be transparent --You will make mistakes; own up, learn and move on. Be relational—Connect with employees so they understand their role is critical to the organization.  Be intentional—The preceding behaviors don’t just happen, you must be intentional to succeed.. Rephrasing a quote from Alan Medville, Wilshire believes that:“ Safety leadership is the authentic expression of who you are in such a way that creates conditions for all to do their work without incident and go home safely every day.”

SLC 2018: Creating Better Leaders

After a lifetime of consulting with companies on how to improve their safety culture, Shawn Galloway, President of ProAct Safety revealed his secrets at the SLC Safety Leadership conference in Louisville on Nov. 7. In his keynote address, he told safety professionals that they need to examine how they can improve their leadership style.  He believes that great leaders: 1.    Always find a better way of thinking 2.    Couch for performance 3.    Understand influences and motivation 4.    Think strategically and keep the most important things most important  Applying these methods to safety requires understanding the three main components of safety; knowing the risks, knowing what precautions to take and talking about precautions on a regular basis.  Implementing these behaviors from a coaching perspective is the most effective, Galloway says. “How sick and tired are you of all of the positive feedback you are getting?”he asked the audience making the point that safety professional tend to focus on letting employees know what they did wrong rather than what they did right. If safety professionals coach for the performance they want rather than the results, it will lead to improved results, Galloway explained. He employs three methods in his coaching:  Focus- what is the performance you want. Feedback—encourage effective future performance Facilitiate—make it easy for people to be successful Galloway provided an interesting example of how to coach for performance when he showed a sign that he saw on a highway that measured seat belt use in the county. The sign listed the compliance in the most recent month of 89% and also included the record for the county at 95%. The clarity of this sign should be the same clarity that safety professionals use when communicating safety policies to the staff. In order to shape behavior, he says you need to let the staff know exactly what they want them to do and what happens when they do it and what happens when they don’t. And taking into account the personal side of safety is a particularly effective way to embed safety into a culture. He told the story of a tragedy where a man was struck and killed by a moving vehicle at a site. After that, all plants across the country were instructed to wear reflective clothing. While not every plant complied the one in Ireland had 100% compliance. When he inquired why he was told that the man killed was a friend of the plant manager who explained to his staff who this man was and how valuable he was to the company. Strong leadership is an evolving process says Galloway. “Think differently about your role as a leader and how you affect others.”

Manufacturers Offer New Family Benefit to Employees

Manufacturing companies often view their employees as family. I have been on many factory tours where you can feel that family connection between employees. The connection extends to employees' families as companies include them when offering benefits. One of the increasing needs among families is the ability to help children and young adults who are autistic. And the manufacturing community is responding to this need by offering a suite of benefits to help address these issues. “Many people don’t realize how many employees are dealing with this issue,” explains Mike Civello, vice president, employer services division, at Rethink Benefits. “One in six children have some type of developmental disability. And there are often very few resources to help parents.” To address this need Rethink Benefits created a web-based program that puts clinical best practice treatment solutions at employees' fingertips. The program is comprised of four different resources: Treatment programs -  The research-based best practice treatment program provides over 1,500 video-based teaching steps depicting clinically- trained therapists working with children on the autism spectrum. Developed by nationally recognized leaders in the field and available on demand 24/7, the program can be customized to specifically meet the unique needs of each child. Care coordination --Parents can add an unlimited number of team members to the program and coordinate care among the child's support team including therapists, teachers, medical professionals and family members. Peer support --Online communities and forums allow parents to communicate with and receive encouragement and support from other parents of children with autism as well as other developmental disabilities., Tele-consultation --On-demand live video chat with experienced clinicians helps guide parents through the challenges of their child’s developmental disability. Automated reporting – The system helps parents track their child's progress and collaborate more effectively with professionals. The administrator dashboard provides employers with real-time utilization and outcomes data. One of the first companies to use Rethink’s program was Volvo. IndustryWeek talked to the company about the program. IW: What were some factors that led to you deciding to offer this program to your employees?   Volvo: Volvo Car USA has a focus to be an employer of choice. One major component of this goal is providing world-class benefits, which includes Rethink Benefits.  We know that employees who have dependents that are developmentally disabled are more likely to miss work and be worried about their family, which also adds stress to them at work. It is important to us to provide our employees support both within and outside of the workplace. Rethink provides the valuable resources they need, beyond medical care.  As we continue to grow rapidly as an organization and with the establishment of our first factory in the United States, Rethink remains a valuable partner to affirm our commitment to our people and what matters to them most. IW: Of the different types of assistance that is available which ones have your employees found the most useful?   Volvo: The 24/7 teleconsultation services provided by expert behavioral therapists – having the one on one coaching and support is invaluable for parents who are managing these complex and stressful life situations while remaining committed to a full- time work schedule. Additionally, upon surveys, user interviews and other measures, 89% of Rethink’s members claim a stress and anxiety reduction, 52% claim it has saved time and increased productivity – on average employees claim to have saved 20 hours per month by using Rethink, and over 90% claim that having Rethink shows their company truly cares about them and their families. IW: With your awareness of the issue are you starting to look at your current workforce and see if you might have workers that have different capabilities and therefore redesign their jobs?  Volvo: We are seeing exponential growth in the U.S. operations this next year and has identified this as a very important subject to explore and address with Rethink – once the population growth stabilizes end of 2019. Expanding Awareness As Volvo examines its workforce to see if perhaps some of its current employees might be on the autism spectrum, many employers are coming to that conclusion as well. "The reality is that this is a population that we don’t know that much about from a workplace perspective and we need to help companies understand, accommodate and provide for employees who present themselves in a different manner,” says Civello. For this reason, last spring Rethink Benefits launched the Neurodiversity Training Center. Neurodiversity is the larger term which includes a variety of conditions including Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum and others.  The center will focus on the training of managers and colleagues of the neurodiverse community. Companies can use Rethink’s E-Learning modules and clinical support system, to help managers learn strategies to find ways to integrate these workers. “Many companies already have employees who are on the spectrum and would benefit from identifying the particular skill sets these employees possess and create a work environment that fit these skills,” Civello said.