Our Response to COVID-19
At Whirlpool Corporation, we remain committed to continuous improvement in our Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability (EHSS) programs, delivery and results. In 2020, we launched “We Care,” our commitment to protecting our employees, preserving the environment, acting sustainably and engaging all employees as a shared responsibility.
Our global EHSS function enhances our strategic planning and prioritization process through team engagement and tools such as the Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis, risk ranking and the Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed (RACI) matrix. This also adds rigor to our EHSS efforts and ensures we are aligning EHSS priorities and objectives.
Establishing Core Competency Teams
In 2020, we established global EHSS Core Competency Teams (CCT) to better connect regional and global subject matter experts, enabling best practice sharing and optimization of workstreams. Among them is the Safety CCT, consisting of cross-functional representatives from Engineering, Operations and EHSS, who partner to implement approaches and tools to prevent incidents and injuries associated with Whirlpool Corporation’s highest potential consequence activities, namely, machine safety. Moving forward, this team will expand Latin America’s “Attitudes for Life” campaign.
Attitudes for Life
Attitudes for Life was created to instill an EHSS awareness mindset among employees through immersive experience-based learning, including using scenarios to teach employees about risk and consequences. As a result of our focus on machine protection, workplace improvements and Attitudes for Life, the Latin America Region experienced a serious injury rate reduction of 57% compared to 2019.
Additionally, we continue to secure and maintain outside recognition for EHSS Management System implementation with 69% of our manufacturing plants globally certified in OHSAS 18001.
Activities covered by the EHSS Management System include all production and non-production activities at the manufacturing sites. Legal and other EHSS obligations are documented by each site and certified during audits.
Risk Analysis, Regulatory Compliance and Governance
Building on our efforts from 2019, we expanded our usage of the WCM risk analysis tools and identification of hazards in 2020, assigning countermeasures based on the hierarchy of controls to reduce injury risk. Now all sites have established action plans to complete 100% of required risk assessments. These risk assessments will be revisited periodically to verify that controls are sustained in place, as well as following any injury event to assess if further countermeasures may be needed.
In 2020, we launched a new digitized country-specific regulatory compliance self-assessment process, enabling better visibility to regulatory compliance status at each factory and growing the competency of our global EHSS professionals. Additionally, we continued our Global Governance Audit process, completing nine audits over the course of the year, focused on key Health & Safety topics, as part of a three-year review cycle. Audit content includes both internal requirements, such as procedural implementation effectiveness, as well as regulatory compliance obligations. All Risk Assessment countermeasures and follow-up actions required from regulatory self-assessments and/or Global Governance audits are documented and tracked to completion.
Preventing Injuries and Illnesses
Whirlpool offers a variety of on-site health services that help employees get care at work, and also help them navigate the external network. All of our U.S. facilities have on-site health clinics. Though the main focus is occupational health care due to Whirlpool being in the manufacturing industry, they do provide some non-occupational primary care services like administering vaccines and completing biometric screenings for employees. Within the clinic, a pharmacist comes on-site once a week and is available to meet with employees to talk through any questions they have about the medications they are taking, adherence, or side effects.
Whirlpool also offers on-site health coaches at all of our U.S. facilities. The health coaches are staffed full time and are available to meet with employees and their families to help create effective wellness plans and sustainable habits to improve employee health. They also help employees navigate the health care system—whether it be escalating their case to our nurse advocate, connecting them to expert medical professionals, or helping employees and their families find primary care providers in their area.
Our Global Employee Assistance Program provides 24/7 counseling and well-being support that targets health risks such as anxiety, depression and other mental health needs. We facilitate access to these services through dedicated websites and portals.
In 2020, Whirlpool Corporation partnered with our Occupational Health clinic providers, Medical Director, Human Resources, Operations teams and local Health Departments to successfully implement illness prevention strategies such as employee temperature screening, on-site testing clinics and campaigns covering a range of topics, from proper mask wearing to hygiene, handwashing and flu vaccination reminders.
We address ergonomics and repetitive motion injuries on an ongoing basis through robust employee onboarding processes, job rotation and engineering controls implementation. In our U.S. facilities, we have engaged Humantech to help standardize and streamline our approach to ergonomics assessments. In 2020, we experienced a total of 518 OSHA recordable injuries, nine of which were classified as Whirlpool Corporation Serious incidents. While we recognize that even one injury event is too many, we learn from every event as we progress on our journey to maintaining zero incidents.
While we maintain targets for year-over-year reduction of the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and Serious Injuries, our goal is always zero. At the same time, we continue to emphasize leading indicators or Key Activity Indicators (KAIs) as opportunities to resolve hazards or issues before they become incidents. KAI deployment and tracking falls within the WCM methodology and includes Unsafe Acts, Unsafe Conditions and Near Misses. As a result of our continued growth and maturity with WCM, in addition to Gensuite utilization, we have experienced an increase of 84% in leading indicator reporting, which is used to establish countermeasures to further reduce risk.
Technology 4.0: Integration and EHSS Impact
We believe that harnessing the power of digital technologies will enable improved delivery of EHSS, while creating business value across the enterprise. In addition to continuing to leverage our digital EHSS solution for data analytics and actionable insights, we actively evaluate new technologies to solve our biggest safety and efficiency opportunities. Projects are prioritized according to WCM methodology and potential to deliver safety improvements and cost savings. For instance, a smartphone video ‘motion app’ powered by artificial intelligence implemented at 10 of our North America plants has enabled more efficient, consistent and accurate ergonomics evaluations, reducing the overall time it takes to perform an assessment and significantly reducing variance from observational methods. Our plants have also reduced risks associated with operating powered industrial vehicles through telematics, enabling equipment pre-use evaluations, utilizing card readers to prevent unauthorized use, and capturing driving behaviors and near incidents in real time.
The placement of collaborative robots, or co-bots, in our factories reduces injury risk, considerably reducing man-machine interaction, and reducing or replacing manual and repetitive operations.
Safety Performance: A Shared Responsibility
Whirlpool Corporation is committed to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries as we continue on our journey to zero. We recognize that to get there, we must embed EHSS as a shared responsibility, relying on strong connections within and between EHSS, Engineering and Operations at all levels of the organization. The WCM methodology drives cross-pillar engagement and empowers everyone to own and participate in workplace safety.
One way we have worked to drive engagement in safety with our new operators is through a combination of classroom orientation training and an immersive, hands-on onboarding experience called ‘dojo,’ which provides a tactile learning environment to sharpen hazard recognition and basic safety rules. This foundation is strengthened as operators transition to the shop floor, prepared to implement WCM tools such as “Blue Tag,” where they can identify unsafe acts, unsafe conditions and near misses; and directly engage in solving problems and implementing countermeasures.
In the event of an injury or incident, operators also directly engage in the problem-solving process, using WCM tools and a Plan-Do-Check-Act approach. Regular trend analysis is then completed at the site, regional or global level to activate focused action plans to reduce injuries.
We also host monthly Global Manufacturing Councils to connect with our operational leadership and key stakeholders; align priorities and expectations; and share best practices and success stories. Our Executive Committee also maintains visibility to monthly EHSS performance dashboards and key improvement actions.
Moving ahead, we will continue our transformation to working as one global EHSS team, forging stronger connections between regions and among subject matter experts to work on our highest priorities and gain efficiency. We will also actively utilize our risk analysis process as our compass to drive improvement in EHSS, recognizing our shared responsibility to protect our employees, preserve the environment and act sustainably, in pursuit of improving life at home.