Policy Commitment to Ensure Product Safety
Product safety and quality are at the forefront of everything we do; nothing matters more to us than maintaining the safety of, and earning and keeping the trust of our consumers.
The first principle of Our Integrity Manual is to keep the consumer at the center of everything we do. Our consumers trust us to be in their homes, so we are passionate about bringing them products that are safe and high quality. After all, we have a strong, multi-decade record of having a proactive approach to premarket safety design and testing, monitoring field safety performance and conducting timely corrective actions, when necessary, to help protect consumers. These are grounded in transparency and set expectations that are above and beyond regulatory requirements. Whirlpool Corporation continues to advocate to raise the minimum requirements for product safety in home appliances in industry standards.
Managerial Responsibility for Product Safety
Our governance model is implemented through the Global Product Safety (GPS) system, which defines clear roles and responsibilities for all employees, requires pre-market risk assessments, post-sale monitoring of product safety and defines required communication protocols for any risks that are identified. We diligently measure our performance through penetrative metrics, a rigorous bottoms-up operating review mechanism and independent audits. A network of committed safety experts across the business is responsible for executing the product safety program, supported by the engineering teams, and governed by the Whirlpool Executive Safety Committee (ESC)—composed exclusively of senior leaders in the company. The ESC is accountable for: (a) oversight of safety risk identification, management and reporting; (b) resolving significant safety risk management decisions; and (c) determining when the company should undertake field corrective actions to address safety issues. Additionally, the Board and Audit Committee receives an annual review of the product safety program and related quarterly reports.
Finally, our governance model also includes supplemental product safety standards designed to exceed industry standards. These standards include requirements for electrical shock hazards, fire/explosion hazards, suffocation/choking hazards and entrapment hazards, among others, and are required for every new product that Whirlpool Corporation sells around the world. Our governance model includes rigorous processes and techniques for our engineering teams to help identify and assess potential safety issues.
Product Safety Risk Assessments
Whirlpool Corporation has a robust safety risk assessment process which evaluates risk over the life cycle of the product. There are three essential phases of the Whirlpool Safety System: Identify, Evaluate, and Close. Within our product development process, products are examined to systematically identify and evaluate any inherent hazards are that are associated with the product throughout the entire life cycle. All new products or design changes to existing products are required to be reviewed for potential hazards prior to production release. When a potential hazard has been identified, it is evaluated through critical thinking, testing and other fact-based analytical methods. The evaluation of a potential hazard characterizes both the severity and the likelihood of occurrence of the hazard. All potential hazards are required to be closed before the production launch of the product, and closure methods are reviewed and approved by stakeholders from multiple independent functional organizations to ensure their adequacy.
Employee Training on Product Safety
Whirlpool Corporation’s product safety process has been recognized as an industry-leading best practice and has been benchmarked by other companies to improve their own programs. We have a robust safety training and competency program for our Engineering population—sustained by training sessions, hands-on experience and risk assessment expertise development. In fact, Whirlpool Corporation invites other companies to attend our Global Product Safety Training sessions. Product Safety competency are established early in the year for employees and tracked throughout the year with metrics that have visibility to the senior leaders of the company. Even with this strong track record, Whirlpool Corporation is in constant pursuit of improving our products, systems and processes to maintain a world-class program.
Whirlpool Corporation’s product safety process has been recognized as an industry-leading best practice and has been benchmarked by other companies to improve their own programs.
Product Testing to Ensure Product Safety
Whirlpool Corporation’s testing program includes multiple comprehensive rounds of physical and simulated testing. This includes testing required by regulatory bodies and our own unique testing requirements. The testing is intentionally designed to encompass expected use, foreseeable use and misuse across the entire life cycle of the product.
Whirlpool Corporation’s Forced Failure testing protocols are critical to mitigating product safety risk. The goal of Forced Failure testing is to induce a failure for the purpose of assessing the consequence. Conformance to the defined acceptance criteria is intended to validate design robustness which safeguards the consumer. Forced Failure testing provides clear evidence that our products are designed to meet these expectations. Although our own testing practices are robust, Whirlpool Corporation’s written policy requires third-party safety testing and certification before market launch of the product, according to established national and international testing standards.
Monitoring of Product Safety Field Performance
Whirlpool Corporation’s field monitoring system is designed to identify, at an early stage, potential safety issues associated with Whirlpool products by investigating reported safety allegations and retrieving the units for examination. Whirlpool Corporation’s process governing field monitoring and defines activities through which the company can collect and document alleged consumer product safety incidents and, through evaluation of returned field units, understand and verify the consumer reports to compile accurate data with which the company can make fact-based decisions regarding potential field safety issues.
Everyone’s job at the end of the day has to do with quality. If each individual delivers quality within their teams, then, in the end, the outcome will be premium quality.
Senior Director of Operations & Production (Cleveland, Tennessee)
Incident Investigation & Corrective Action
Whirlpool Corporation has a robust set of practices and procedures to collect, monitor and evaluate the reports of potential safety issues it receives each year, relating to a vast number of products distributed over time, through its own customer service centers, claims organizations and other sources, such as retail partners and regulators. These practices and procedures include a process to identify root cause(s) for incidents, as well as corrective and preventive actions to eliminate recurrence.
We have embarked on the Premium Quality Multi-year Journey, committed to delivering the best consumer experience with every appliance, every time, everywhere, which must be a top priority to fulfill our company vision: Be the best kitchen and laundry company, in constant pursuit of improving life at home. It is not an incremental change, but a Quality Culture Transformation.
Premium Quality provides a superior consumer experience by improving performance at all touchpoints throughout the entire life cycle for all Whirlpool Corporation products and services. It is an end-to-end accountability of the full life cycle of our products and services that engages all organizations and will especially rely on the adoption of refreshed quality processes, tools and roles/responsibilities by Global Product organization (GPO), Global Strategic Sourcing (GSS), Manufacturing, Logistics and Customer Service.