Cake and speeches were included on March 10 in celebrating one year without a lost-time injury at ABB’s production facility in New Berlin, Wis. March 6 marked the official day for achieving the milestone at the LV Drives’ North American manufacturing site.

“Your achievement, both in practicing safety here in the workplace, and helping ABB be highly productive at this facility, is a marker we want to pause and honor today,” said Aaron Aleithe, vice president and general manager of LV Drives and LV motors, addressing all the manufacturing employees gathered for a celebration event.

“In an economy in which we are committed to being as efficient, productive and safe as possible, this achievement is all the more notable,” Aleithe said. “It also means that we have all hands on deck and, through a conscious focus on safety, are able to count on your contributions, without loss of your expertise due to any accidents while here.”

The drives production facility includes 200 manufacturing employees, and more than 500 total personnel are employed on two Wisconsin campuses (production facility, as well as Drives Services). The production employees were on hand early this morning for the ceremony that honored their achievement.

Goal: Zero Injuries
“The facility is highlighting the one-year marker without a lost-time accident, which translates into over 750,000 hours worked. Safety has been elevated in emphasis and importance to a #1 priority, closely followed by a Customer Focus and Operational Excellence,” noted managing director of operations George Lord. “We know that reaching these yearly milestones is remarkable, and they also provide an incentive to reach for entirely new milestones. In February, 2008, the facility achieved 768 consecutive days without a lost time injury – and we keep an electronic-timing board up, so that everyone can work in concert to best that record!” he said.

The goal is zero injuries, period, according to Rick Kegel plant and safety engineer for the two facilities.

The OpEx work began in earnest in 2004 at the facility, “and has changed entirely the culture, participation and level of engagement of employees throughout the production facility,” Kegel said. “The two go hand-in-hand: as employees provide critical feedback and help implement changes, safety considerations get built into the process. Our objective is to make this a habit of mind – so that safety continues to become systemic.”

Achievements as Reward of Goals
Nearly zero lost-time accidents fits into a high level of emphasis that ABB puts on safety – at all the company’s facilities around the globe.


“Earning, two years ago, as a team, the VPP Star Award for safety taught us a lot about achievement and goal setting,” according to Richard Bizek, North American safety manager for ABB Automation Products division. “Teamwork moving toward a very clearly stated objective can remove a lot of obstacles – and achieve the seemingly impossible.”

 

By that, Bizek is referring to late 2007, when three representatives from OSHA visited the New Berlin facility to present ABB the VPP Star Award – an award given to only 2,000 out of 7 million companies worldwide. The ABB New Berlin site is the only ABB location globally to have achieved this status.

Such benchmarks are exactly what employees and management agree help make ABB a highly rewarding place to work. “It’s appealing to potential employees we work to recruit,” notes Lord. “Would you rather work for a company that can point to a consistent, durable track record of helping to create environments that make it possible for employees to thrive? Or is the alternative appealing?”

ABB, Automation Products, Low Voltage Drives, is the world's largest manufacturer of electric motors and drives. In the USA, an integrated channel of sales representatives, distributors, and system integrators allow ABB, New Berlin, to supply a complete line of energy-efficient electric drives, motors and engineered drive systems to a wide range of industrial and commercial customers. Products manufactured include AC and DC variable speed drives for electric motors from 1/8th through 135,000 horsepower, and application-specific drive system solutions to meet diverse customer needs.
 
ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 120,000 people.