Leadership, Engagement Drive Domtar’s Safety Journey

At Domtar, we take safety seriously. Since 2007, we have reduced our recordable incident rate by 66 percent. Our safety journey is a testament to the strong leadership, engagement and focus demonstrated by all of Domtar’s nearly 10,000 colleagues worldwide who help ensure everyone has a safe day, every day.

“Safety is the most important aspect of how we work — every day, everywhere,” says Larry Warren, senior director of Health and Safety for the Pulp and Paper Division.

Both the Pulp and Paper and Personal Care divisions are making steady progress toward achieving the company-wide goal of a 0.5 recordable incident frequency rate by 2020, thanks to initiatives to use best practices and proper training to drive consistent behavior. We have seen a 21 percent decrease in recordable incidents since announcing that goal in 2015. Our safety journey is featured in our 2017 Sustainability Report.

Safety Depends on Processes and People

Domtar’s safety culture is founded on the idea of human performance improvement (HPI), which acknowledges that people are inherently fallible and they will make mistakes. However, HPI isn’t about fixing the worker; rather, it holds the entire organization accountable by understanding the context surrounding events and why individuals exhibited behaviors that lead to safety incidents.

Both individual actions and organizational weaknesses can result in unwanted outcomes. Therefore, HPI-based initiatives are proactive in nature. They focus on risk reduction and continuous improvement by implementing solutions to prevent errors that could lead to a negative outcome.

In 2015, safety teams identified eight operations across Pulp and Paper that had high potential for recordable incidents, and they began to develop standard operating procedures for each operation so that it’s done the same way at every site. Teams also implemented built-in measures to track process effectiveness and regular checkpoints to evaluate and address process deviations.

Since Domtar adopted HPI five years ago, more than 350 Personal Care division leaders have been HPI trained. In addition to a global safety council — a cross-functional team responsible for guiding Personal Care on its safety journey — each plant has its own hazard reduction team to identify and mitigate risks by raising housekeeping standards, creating detailed hazard maps and conducting thorough investigations when incidents occur.

“Safety programs are designed to engage, equip and execute through leadership training, tools, guidance and global systems,” says Kirk Bagnal, Personal Care’s global safety council chair and environment, health and safety director.

Open Communication Leads Our Safety Journey

All of Domtar’s safety programs emphasize what Warren calls “active caring” or “the courage to care.”

“[It] takes courage to say something when you see another employee performing, or about to perform, an unsafe act,” he says. “Each employee has the right and responsibility to act in such a situation. Caring means taking action and getting involved.”

That’s why Domtar fosters a culture of open communication where employees can feel empowered to take action to improve safety in the workplace, especially if they see or suspect an unsafe situation.

“Simply stopping to ask for clarification before doing something an employee thinks might be unsafe — or cautioning a colleague to do the same — can play an integral role in incident reduction,” Warren says.

The Personal Care mantra “People First, Safety Always” serves as a reminder for all Domtar colleagues that our safety journey isn’t just a number in a report. It’s a call to action for all employees to become leaders who place safety above all else.

“No matter what you call the safety program or initiative, it’s about making choices that benefit everyone in our lives,” says Mike Fagan, Personal Care division president. “It’s personal. It’s important that we keep one another safe, so that each of us can achieve professional success and experience a rewarding and fulfilling life.”

Juan Jose Nombela Safety Journey
“For me, HPI is a new mindset. Now I pay much more attention to the day-to-day details. Injuries can happen if you do not think differently or you do not change habits.” — Juan José Nombela, palletizer operator, Novés-Toledo, Spain.
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