Creating a Culture of Safety: RIMEX reduces claims by 85% and reduces lead times

RIMEX shows how a company can undergo a cultural safety transformation and make the changes last by changing hiring practices, working with partners like the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, and embedding safety in every aspect of its work.

When an industrial accident resulted in a worker death in 2011, RIMEX began its journey towards safety excellence.

The company, a global leader in the manufacture, sales and distribution of wheels and rims for mining and other off-road industries, was enjoying strong sales. Business growth contributed to a culture that allowed workers to rush a process or ignore safety rules. Safety was not a core value — and workers were not working as a team.

After the fatality, the executive team worked quickly to make the necessary changes including hiring a professional safety officer. Working with the Alliance, the organization and its 180 workers in Agassiz and Surrey underwent a cultural safety culture transformation.

This transformation continued in 2014 when James Read started as RIMEX’s Director of Manufacturing. James is directly responsible for manufacturing as well as the company’s extensive safety program. His background in Lean helped him empower front-line workers to become part of the solution. He also introduced Total Quality Management (TQM) techniques that emphasize the involvement of an entire organization, including upper level management at RIMEX.

“Safety is a mindset,” says James.

“Get all the workers, managers and executives on the same page and they become a team sharing the common goal of ensuring every worker goes home safely at the end of the day.”

One of the important changes James encouraged was to make sure new hires weren’t just selected for their technical ability, but also for their awareness and commitment to safety. The company’s onboarding program reinforces the responsibility of each worker for the safety of their peers.

At the same, the Alliance advised on best practices to reduce worker injuries. For example, workers now actively keep the shop floor cleaned and cleared to ensure easy and safe movement around the plant. Safety procedures are standardized and work processes have been corrected. RIMEX identified and examined the high-risk tasks and, after consultation with the Alliance, provided tools that met the highest safety standards.

RIMEX completed the certification process for Occupational Safety Standard of Excellence (OSSE) in 2015, and, at the Safety Pinnacle Awards Gala in April, will receive an Emerald Safety Pinnacle award.

“The Alliance has provided support, access to specialized resources, and enhanced our confidence that we are taking the right steps,” says James. “At the same time, working with the Alliance gives our management team assurance that we are following a good, proven business model. Safety is pushing the company forward on many fronts.”

The impacts of the team’s efforts are seen in more than simply winning awards. James goes on to say, “This investment in staff and safety has resulted in an 85% decrease in RIMEX claims in the past five years. We’ve also seen a tremendous improvement in quality and delivery predictability. At the same time, we’ve had a dramatic reduction in lead times. Such significant savings demonstrate that safety and smart financial decision making often go hand in hand. RIMEX’s experience proves that safety is both profitable and increases production.”

RIMEX Improvement projects:

  1. Processes, like the manufacturing of lock rings, were restructured to improve the ergonomics of employee movements while maximizing product flow. Workers used to lift the 100-lb equipment 12 times each process, 20 times a day.
  2. Heavy processes, like painting and finishing, were modernized with technology that favoured less mechanical movement. This reduced the number and risk of employee and forklift interactions.
  3. Modern equipment, like HAAS milling centres, consolidated different processes under one work centre. This not only improved safety, it increased product quality, and plant productivity and capacity.
  4. Everyone in the organization is encouraged to develop a safety-conscious curiosity and empowered to make changes. Facility-wide, daily +QDIP meeting are held to assess the safety, quality delivery, inventory, and productivity performance of the previous day. When issues are identified at meetings, they are collaboratively researched and resolved. Sta conduct daily risk assessments of both routine and novel processes.

This article appeared in the 10th Anniversary edition of the Make It Safe newsletter. To download the full newsletter, please visit our Newsletter Archive.