Making a Safe Family Even Safer: Working together to keep an Eye on Safety with Kerry Foods

When you walk into Kerry Foods Delta plant it feels like you are among family. The Delta location manufactures coffee syrups and is the only location of the Irish-based company in Western Canada.

The company has always had a strong commitment to safety. “We see colleagues as family members,” says Cynthia Lapointe, the Kerry plant manager.

“Our safety journey has always been tied up with the question: Would you do this at home? Would you let your spouse or kids do this?”

Over the years, Kerry has continued to improve. When Cynthia arrived in Delta from Quebec two years ago, she already had eight years with the company under her belt. She was impressed at the relationship that had been built with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. “Rob Montgomery was already part of the member of the Alliance’s Technical Advisory Committee and we were in the process of obtaining OSSE Certification. My job was to give our safety program the vision and direction.”

One of Kerry’s big initiatives was to implement Eye For Safety observation cards. “This helps us improve with observations directly from the shop floor,” says Cynthia. “Employees are required, as part of their performance review to identify areas we can improve in the categories of: safety, environment, quality, maintenance and operations.”

In 2017, employees identified 374 areas for safety improvement. Improvements can be small, such as seeing someone put on their seatbelt on a forklift, or large, for example identifying a broken racking light and fixing it before an inspection. The Eye For Safety cards are handed out to line leads and talked about at the production meeting every day. Cynthia says, “You have to track and demonstrate improvement. If you don’t, people won’t come back and the program won’t last.”

Cynthia is passionate about making the workplace safer and recently joined the BC Safety Charter, “I would never want to report that someone was injured or died under my watch. I don’t know what it would be like to go home, to my spouse and kids and look at myself in the mirror knowing that someone got hurt. Knowing that something was wrong and I let it happen.”

Kerry’s safety commitment has helped the organization recruit and retain good employees. “We had people leaving for more money and they came back because their new job didn’t have a family spirit and wasn’t safe. That’s great for business. If people are happy to come to work and are safe and enjoy it, celebrate that and you will get good people to work for you.”

Support from the Alliance has been crucial to Kerry’s continued success. “I appreciate the networking, the activities, meeting with other manufacturers, conferences and seminars. The Alliance helps us keep an open mind about what’s going on in the industry and pushes us to strive to excellence,” says Cynthia.

“Safety in Quebec was pretty good. But when I moved to BC, it struck me that here safety really is a priority. I am so far ahead in my safety journey. Part of that is networking and teaming up with the Alliance, and other manufacturers. Every month I learn something new.”

Cynthia isn’t just learning new things, she’s sharing it with her colleagues across North America. The Delta location of Kerry Foods is very active in the North America Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) week every year. The company often wins prizes and now participation is mandatory for all plant in the same business unit as Delta across North America. This year, Cynthia is working with plants in Quebec, Washington State, Ohio, Georgia and Mexico to create a consistent experience for all the units. “We’ll have events in three countries, now that’s exciting!” says Cynthia.

Cynthia will be on hand to celebrate with her team at the Safety Pinnacle Award Gala on April 19. “Everyone works so hard in safety and we don’t stop to celebrate milestone often enough. The Alliance offers us a chance to celebrate the successes we’ve had.”

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