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Vertellus is a global organization that provides specialty chemicals to a variety of industries including agriculture; coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers; life sciences; industrial specialties; nutrition; personal and consumer care; and plastics and polymers. In the agricultural area, Vertellus makes livestock feed enhancement, crop protection and some food additives. For the coatings industries, the chemical company manufactures gel inks, and paper packaging as well as personal care products. Additionally, Vertellus supplies the automotive industry with plastics used inside of vehicles.
Prior to engaging with ProcessMAP, Vertellus was using four different compliance software solutions, some home-built systems and other were commercial solutions. Incident reporting and observations tracking (near-misses, inspections etc.) leveraged different systems. All four systems required different logins. This fragmented landscape and the inefficiencies created because of the information-silos made it extremely challenging for the company’s safety leadership team to get a coherent picture of the overall landscape of the safety programs and how to improve them.
After an exhaustive evaluation, Vertellus partnered with ProcessMAP in 2017, and today, the company uses ProcessMAP’s Audits & Inspections Management, Incident Management and Industrial Hygiene solutions, among others.
One of the key differentiators for Vertellus has been ProcessMAP’s Safety Observations Application. The Vertellus safety team recognized the importance of Behavior-based Safety. They wanted to understand how their employees behave while performing their work and how safety processes could reduce the number of unsafe acts and conditions that occurred. The team believed observations were a great way to have positive communication and interaction between the observers and the employees in the facilities. Vertellus developed a safety training program prior to going live with the observation app to make employees aware of its importance, to collect good observations in the system and to coach employees as needed.
The Safety Observation App
The Safety Observations App allows Vertellus to run reports on a variety of items, to help the safety team determine areas of improvement within their facilities. There are always more than one observer, typically including a member of the management team and a member of the workforce, who together go out and perform these observations. The teams look at the specific area work within the facility, sometimes at a very granular level. In conducting the observation, the team looks at what activity is being performed in that area, and what they observed in a highly detailed way, to focus on problems and how to improve them.
Keywords are an important measuring tool for Vertellus. The safety team established 32 keywords and 106 subcategory words that fall under the keyword. These allow the safety team to dig deeper in their observations and better understand where issues were taking place. Every month there is a team reviewing the data and making modifications to keywords as needed to help make the best use of the app.
Using The App’s Functionality
With ProcessMAP’s Safety Observation app, documenting observations became a simple, efficient, and highly user-friendly process. From a drop-down menu, a user selects either a safe or unsafe act, or a safe or unsafe condition. The communication field is a place where the user can give feedback – the chance to tell someone they are doing a good job, following procedures, etc. The next field allows the user to define any immediate action taken.
All this data allows the safety team to compliment good work, and to modify or correct unsafe acts and conditions. The attachments area allows the user to upload photos of people or issues observed, which can be particularly helpful when revising an observation weeks or months later. Users may create action items right then, and assign the action items to make the necessary corrections. Action items are typically assigned by the facility, and then the observation is either closed or left open for further action or discussion. At times, multiple observations can be collected for the same incident. The system is capable of having up to five observations per one event. Once the observations are created, the system will send notifications to the appropriate site managers.
Vertellus now conducts observations at all of its sites. All identified and recorded Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPAs) get completed on-time. The safety team easily and effectively identifies visible as well as underlying trends in the observations to be able to follow up on it. Eventually, the company has witnessed a strong correlation between tracking leading indicators (like safety observations) and lagging indicators like Recordable Incident Rate (RIR). Vertellus’ strategic investments in digitizing its EHS initiatives and its strong commitment to employee health and safety helps the company realize critical competitive advantage.
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