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New Safety Approach Yields 65% Incident Reduction

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Gunther Hoock

Horizon Lines, and Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. (HSI), affiliated organizations in Honolulu, Hawaii, recently reported great success implementing a program that rewards employees for safe behaviors. Horizon Lines and Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. (HSI), a division that provides stevedoring services, kicked off a behavioral safety approach focusing on safe behaviors that lead to safe results in September of 2009 and have already realized significant positive change.

Horizon Lines, the nation’s leading domestic ocean shipping company, operates five port terminals linking the continental United States with Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Micronesia, and Puerto Rico. Its Honolulu employees and HSI’s longshoremen load and unload the massive containers of multiple ingoing and outgoing cargo ships, often in the dead of night.

The work is tough and can be hazardous. “We have to move a lot of cargo in a short period of time because we affect vessel schedules at other ports if there is a delay here,” said Frank Roznerski, Manager Safety, Security & Hazmat for Horizon Lines Honolulu. “We are constantly toiling with the balance between safety and production.”

In a matter of three months, both organizations have made great strides in achieving that balance. Using the methods of the Bill Sims Company, the two groups now specify, recognize, and reward behaviors—an approach that eliminates the injury hiding that occurs when people are rewarded only for “zero incident/accident” goals. In the first 90 days, this process has resulted in a 64 percent reduction in safety incidents and a 60 percent reduction in recordable accidents for Horizon Lines. HSI reports a 28 percent reduction in lost time injuries.

Horizon Lines comparison between Sept.- Nov. 2008 and the same period 2009.

Year       Incidents      Recordables
2008           28                  10
2009           10                   4
Reduction    64%               60%

“Changing old habits can be very tough. People have their own style and ways of doing things which we find may not be the safest way. Trying to get them to do things the right way has been a great challenge, but we don’t want to create an adversarial relationship. We want to be able to work in the spirit of cooperation. We have had high injury rates and we needed to do something different to get different results. The Bill Sims program provided us the vehicle and the means to do so. It changed the method in which we go out there and try to implement safety,” said Roznerski.

These new numbers reflect only three months of the new safety process, also taking place during the peak season prior to the Christmas Holidays. During that period the groups celebrated nine weeks of no lost time injuries!

Gunther Hoock is the corporate safety director for Horizon Lines Honolulu.

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