Workplace safety improvements at CHEP result in improved safety

16 June 2015

With workplace safety in the media spotlight due to the death of a digger driver in Canterbury last week, we look at progress CHEP has made to ensure employees and truck drivers stay safe – resulting in improved productivity and employee satisfaction

CHEP, which provides reusable packaging solutions such as pallets and plastic crates, has redesigned its service yards to progress along its journey to zero harm in the work place. The redesign has increased productivity and employee and customer satisfaction without impacting costs.

The new yard design and pallet loading and unloading process minimises the risk for truck drivers by segregating operations and enforcing pedestrian exclusion zones. Truck drivers can observe forklift operations from the safety of new driver shelters and forklift operators can safely manoeuver around the vehicle.

CHEP New Zealand Country Manager Mike O’Brien hopes the process changes will lead to greater improvements inside and outside of the industry.

He says it’s every company’s responsibility to take care of their employees, and customers or contractors attending its sites, and is hoping CHEP’s new safety initiatives will encourage others to follow suit.

“We are an industry leader and we’re very open about sharing our challenges and successes. I don’t think there should be any intellectual property when it comes to employee safety. We’re sharing our approach to safety with organisations across various industries,” he says.

This recent safety initiative follows the internationally recognised Kaizen principles of long term and continuous change. One of its bonuses has been increased productivity with CHEP service centres cutting 40 per cent of their serving time.

It’s an approach, Mike says, that has received praise from drivers and had them requesting similar practices and precautions at service yards not owned by CHEP.

“We’ve had other companies come and look at our yards,” Mike says, “and they understand what we’re doing.”

The safety plan for CHEP, Mike says, is pretty simple, “Zero harm in the work place….We’ve had a dramatic improvement over the past four or five years and particularly since rolling out additional safety initiatives in 2013 and 2014. We’re not there yet but we’re on our journey to zero harm.

“We’re committed to sending employees home safely and as healthy as they were when they arrived at work.”

In 2009 CHEP New Zealand reported 46 lost time injuries or events requiring medical treatment. In 2014 that number was reduced to four.

CHEP was a finalist in the 2013 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards in both the Mega efficiency Innovation and Energy Management categories.