Understanding Customer Success at North Little Rock

Safety Conversations with Leaders

The Caterpillar North Little Rock manufacturing facility was known as one of the company's worst safety performers in 2011. After embarking on a safety journey following the Zero-Incident Perofrmance (ZIP™) Process, North Little Rock is now known as a benchmark facility for safety culture excellence at Caterpillar. 

Throughout the journey then Operations Manager Paul Riverea and Certified Safety Professional Justin Ganschow were actively involved in the culture shift. We spoke with them about the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of the journey.


Paul Rivera
Operations Manager
Caterpillar Earthmoving | North American Operations

WHO have you recognized recently for safety? Each month we recognize several employees who have demonstrated safety leadership through our PIP (Positive Interaction Process) and STAC (Stop ThInk Act Communicate) process. For example, the leadership team recently recognized an assembler named Floyd who noticed a coworker pushing a torque wrench with a closed hand. Floyd stopped the employee, concerned that his hand would be hit if the wrench were to slip. The two talked through the correct technique of pushing a torque wrench with an open palm, and then Floyd talked about it with his team in their next start-up meeting. All employees complete multiple PIPs per month, thanking other team members for working safely.                                                   

WHAT does “visible commitment” to safety mean to you? Visible commitment means my actions and my words are in alignment. When I’m in the factory or in a conference room I should lead by example. Every meeting starts with a safety briefing. My daily start-up meetings and my weekly staff meetings start with a "safety share," an example of putting safety into action in the workplace or at home.

WHERE do most of your safety conversations occur? Most of my safety conversations occur in a conference room because I am in several meetings each day, but safety is a part of every discussion. When I am on the factory floor I search for someone doing a task safely. It can be as simple as wearing the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or following a safety practice. I take the opportunity to thank the employee for their commitment to safety.

WHEN do employees have the opportunity to talk with you about safety? Any time! If I am in the factory or a conference room I will always take time to listen to safety concerns or recognize people for working safely. In our all-employee meetings we have an entire section dedicated to safety and we give the employees the opportunity for a safety share.

WHY is safety so critical to your business? Safety is critical to our business because people are the key to our success. It is our responsibility to ensure every team member is safe in the workplace. If we have a great safety culture our business will be successful. 


Justin Ganschow, CSP
Safety Culture Consultant
Caterpillar Safety Services

WHO, in an organization, is best suited to serve on a Safety Steering Team?
The team builds a strategic plan for improvement and ensure goals are met. Therefore, members should be viewed as positive change makers who others want to follow. All levels of the organization should be represented.

WHAT characteristics make someone a good candidate for a Continuous Improvement (CI) Team?
CI Team members should carry some weight with their peers. They should be open-minded and able to work well with people from across different divisions and ranks. Veteran and newer employees bring unique perspectives that are both valuable on a CIT.

WHERE do EHS professionals fit into the ZIP Process?
EHS professionals are the organization's subject matter experts on regulatory compliance, and compliance and cultural improvement work synergistically. Safety professionals often attend SST meetings and serve on CI Teams. I was an EHS department manager when my facility started the ZIP Process. I discovered that my staff and I had more time to focus on regulatory activities and improving training and other programs since the front-line supervisors and middle managers had been empowered with safety ownership on the factory floor.

WHEN should an organization expect to see measurable improvement in lagging indicators?
Safety culture improvement is a marathon, not a sprint, but improving the culture leads to safer actions and decisions that result in fewer incidents and injuries. In order to realize true, lasting cultural change, it may take three to seven years to build the trust that this is not a "flavor of the month" safety program. However, experience has shown significant improvements in employee engagement, communication and teamwork when an organization completes one cycle of the ZIP Process (typically around six months).

WHY are perception gaps between employees and management so significant?
Employees do what they think the boss wants. If they hear about production schedules from their supervisor eight times a day, but only about safety at the beginning of the shift, they will form a perception that production trumps everything else. They may be tempted to take shortcuts or unnecessary risks to meet the demand of the clock. Management may think they are sending clear messages about their expectations for safe work, but their actions speak louder. The Safety Perception Survey uncovers these gaps that may be invisible to upper levels of the organization.

HOW do you respond to people who say "zero isn't possible"?
I say, "I understand," because I once felt the same way. We manufacture big earthmoving machines, built by people, and people make mistakes. But the ZIP Process showed me that when all take ownership for safety, "zero" is absolutely possible.

Customer Success with Zero Incident Performance at North Little Rock
The Caterpillar North Little Rock facility is now known as a benchmark for safety excellence.

Interview with Operations Manager

Paul Rivera

A Safety Conversation with Paul Rivera, Caterpillar North Little Rock Operations Manager

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Interview with Certified Safety Professional

Justin Ganschow

A Safety Conversation with Justin Ganschow, Certified Safety Professional.

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