What is in this article?:
- Klein Steel Service: IW Best Plants Profile 2011
- Team Members Seize the Initiative
Klein Steel Service
Employees: 146, non-union
Total Square Footage: 206,000
Primary Product/Market: metal processor, steel service center
Start-Up Date: 2004
Achievements: finished-product first-pass quality yield of greater than 99%; 86% reduction in OSHA-recordable injury and illness incidence rate from 2008-2011
Processing steel can be a dangerous business, and not only for the people directly involved in the production. Customers, suppliers and other visitors unwittingly can add to the potential for safety mishaps in a building full of heavy metal slabs and machinery that cuts, burns, machines and moves those slabs.
See the other winners of IW's 2011 Best Plants award and find out how they made the top ten.
Recognizing this truth, Klein Steel Service, a privately owned steel distribution and processing company located in Rochester, N.Y., last year introduced a visitor safety program that established a number of guidelines. These include requiring visitors to the warehouse area to sign in and out, and wear safety glasses and hard hats.
In theory, the safety program worked fine. However, after observing it in practice for awhile, the receiving team in Rochester noticed that an awkward layout made it possible for visitors to enter the warehouse without first registering. Without fanfare, the team changed the flow of visitor entry into the facility; now visitors can't avoid signing in and signing out.
|Tim Sullivan burns parts from a thick plate at Klein Steel. The company has been steadily expanding its metal-processing capabilities.|
This improvement project, one of many under way at Klein Steel, illustrates several important points about this 2011 IndustryWeek's Best Plants winner. The first is the absolute imperative of safety. "Our team members train on safety from day one, with constant reinforcement, coaching, reminders, additional training and attention throughout their career," notes the company in its competition application.
The second point is the value Klein Steel places on decentralization and empowerment, and on a culture of performance. The team members who improved the layout didn't react in response to an order from management. They instead identified an issue, developed a solution and implemented the solution -- without constantly engaging top leadership for approval.