The Consolidated Container Company (CCC) is one of the US’s leading suppliers of rigid plastic containers. In this Q&A, Consolidated’s SVP of Operations Services Group, Jeff Brubaker, reveals how the company’s partnership with DEKRA is revolutionizing CCC’s safety outcomes.
What was Consolidated’s safety situation before it began working with DEKRA?
Something that's very unique about Consolidated is we are a company built off acquisitions. In fact, more than 20 acquisitions—quite a few of them small—from the 15 years we've been a company. The company's way to integrate them was pretty much to leave them alone as long as they were profitable and doing the right thing. We never really had one common culture. There was a lot of top-down push on safety programs.
I started with Consolidated three years ago. In prior years, we had a safety performance rate that was much higher than the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) average.
What are the common safety risks your workers face on the job?
We have around 2,400 employees at 59 sites across the United States and Canada. The primary risk they would face would certainly be heat related. Injuries or risk to the hands would be another area where they would see risks. We have some routine, when you have to climb on smooth surfaces and things like that, so falling from height would be another risk we face.
Why did you partner with DEKRA to change things?
I came from a company that really had moved into world-class safety with an injury rate less than 1.0. So, I was very interested in driving Consolidated from being just better than average to being world class.
In the early 2000s, I attended a safety workshop that DEKRA’S Don Groover put on and it was very powerful. They had different companies represented there, showing off what they had accomplished, and I can remember thinking, "If I could just bottle that, I could be very successful in safety." I think DEKRA has found a way to bottle that.
“If I could just bottle that, I could be very successful in safety. I think DEKRA has found a way to bottle that.“
The first thing DEKRA did was a company-wide assessment, correct?
Yes, DEKRA used its OCDI (Organizational Culture Diagnostic Instrument) assessment tool. We did that at all 59 of our plants. We had over 1,750 of our employees participate. That gave us a really good diagnostic across all dimensions of safety culture in each building. From that, each plant manager was able to see their individual cultures and identify where they were strong and where they were weak.
The importance of culture was big?
It was. Most large companies have pretty good systems, processes, and tools around safety. In fact, they're pretty common. The real differentiator is culture. Driving a different culture was going to be the key because another procedure put in place or another document or another process was really just layering things on that were already pretty good. We had to work on the culture.
What other things did you learn from DEKRA’s assessment?
We saw high injuries in people in their first six months to a year—basically people coming in with habits that maybe weren't good from other employers. Then, on the other end of our spectrum, people with 10 years or greater of service at the company, were having injuries. That's where they were becoming complacent. In the middle ground, we were actually pretty good.
Another thing was fatigue and how many of our injuries were because of fatigue. We have a pretty lean workforce and we run a lot of overtime. I was surprised at how many of our people were working more than five days in a row, more than 60 hours in a week. There's some pretty good research that DEKRA shared with us that says that kind of fatigue increases risk factors.
How did you address that fatigue issue?
We now have a weekly dashboard of which employees and which plants are exceeding our goals in terms of working too many days in a row or too many hours in a day. We track that and look for the root cause of why is that.
Was that all that turned up in the assessment?
A couple of other areas that we're working on is improved onboarding. We revamped all of our safety onboarding to be more friendly—multilingual, more intuitive, more visual—so that people of all languages, as they enter our company, can have the same safety onboarding.
But probably the most powerful lesson for me from DEKRA’s assessment was this whole idea of incidents that have significant injury or fatality potential [otherwise known as SIF potential]. We had an injury where somebody was too close to a piece of equipment, turned around, and chipped their tooth. It was a recordable injury. What we learned is the real concern in that kind of situation is the potential [of a significant injury or fatality]. So, we've segmented all of our incidences and how we report them now into SIFs or non-SIFs.
The one thing I like about working with DEKRA is there is a lot of good research and science that goes behind the why of things that's pretty compelling.
“The one thing I like about working with DEKRA is there is a lot of good research and science that goes behind the why of things that's pretty compelling.”
You started this work with DEKRA about a year-and-a-half ago, what have the results been so far?
The change in our trajectory is pretty amazing. Our lost and restricted days in the last 12 months is 66% reduced to what it was before we started working with DEKRA. Some of that might be a little bit of luck, but I don't I think all of it is.
If you take the most recent seven-month history and compare it to a year ago, our number of injuries are down 50%.
“The change in our trajectory is pretty amazing. Our lost and restricted days in the last 12 months is 66% reduced...our number of injuries are down 50%.”
Any words of advice for other companies looking to improve their safety performance with DEKRA?
Our senior leadership team is 100% committed to becoming world-class in safety. So, I'd say, first and foremost, make sure you have top-level commitment because if it's a flavor of the month initiative, you're going to disappoint your people and you'll probably go backwards.
Second of all, don't underestimate culture. Culture is one of those things that's extremely difficult to measure. I think we all know good culture when we're in it, but it's hard to measure. So, trust that the OCDI tool actually does get at the root of the culture.
We continue to be impressed. DEKRA is super easy to work with. They're very flexible. We had to swarm resources when we wanted to do 35 different training sessions throughout the country. They can do it in multiple languages. They can give you proposals for a whole program or parts of a program. We've enjoyed our ongoing relationship with DEKRA and it will continue for a long time.
“We've enjoyed our ongoing relationship with DEKRA and it will continue for a long time.”
To learn more about CCC’s Client Story with DEKRA, watch the video and download their full case study.