3 Key EHS Lessons from One of America’s Safest Companies

August 16, 2018

To be the best, you have to learn from the best. The Enablon community includes organizations that are the best in their industry and in the world. This in turn provides members of our community a golden opportunity to learn from these leaders that partner with Enablon to maintain or enhance their leadership position in the market.

Milliken is one such company. For over 150 years, Milliken has been innovating with the purpose to explore, discover and create ways to enhance people’s lives. With expertise across a breadth of disciplines, including specialty chemicals, floor covering, and performance and protective textiles, Milliken works to add true value to people’s lives, improve health and safety, and help make this world more sustainable. Headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Milliken has more than 40 manufacturing facilities located throughout the world.

But there’s more to Milliken than its rich history, breadth of disciplines, and global presence. The company was included on the 2017 America’s Safest Companies List presented by EHS Today magazine. Milliken, a three-time honoree, was one of 14 companies recognized for providing a safe working environment for thousands of employees. In addition, Milliken became the first-ever company named to America’s Safest Companies Hall of Fame.

At SPF Americas 2108, Milliken added to its impressive list of recognitions by receiving the Enablon Positive Impact Award for bringing direct benefits to its associates and communities. Let’s take a closer look at Milliken’s use of the Enablon Platform.

Lee SlusherLee Slusher, Director of Corporate Environmental, Milliken

A Single, Integrated Platform for EHS

Milliken uses Enablon for comprehensive EHS management, including incident management, action plans, behavior-based safety, audits, compliance tasks, and management of metrics to track sustainability efforts, GHG emissions, waste generation, use of water and energy, and leading indicators for safety. A number of other tools and processes were previously used at Milliken. For example, incidents were reported through a Lotus Notes database and environmental metrics were managed through another environmental software system. These and other important EHS metrics are now being transitioned to a single, integrated software platform.

The benefits achieved by Milliken include:

  • Tracking leading indicators across more than 40 manufacturing plants and facilities.
  • Effective follow-up on action plans that are launched following an incident and that include the entire process from root cause analysis to corrective and preventive actions.
  • Visibility over all EHS action plans and tasks across the organization, leading to greater collaboration within and between facilities. This also leads to more confidence that action plans are being completed.
  • Visibility on critical data to all users, through dashboards and reports, and better data analysis capabilities.
  • Analysis of data from audits to identify compliance risks and other risks.
  • Easy identification of all locations that have been audited, and reports to identify common areas of opportunity uncovered by audits.

Lessons from a Leader

Safety is one of Milliken’s primary core values, which is why the company has been recognized as one of America’s safest companies. Tools and methodologies are needed to continue improving on safety performance, which is where Enablon helps to support Milliken’s mission to provide a safe working environment. What are some of the key lessons that we can learn from Milliken’s journey to be a leader in safety?

1) Educate About the Hierarchy of Controls

Charlie Young, Corporate Safety Director at Milliken, says: “We’re using the NIOSH hierarchy of controls to educate our people, and we want to challenge them to move further up the hierarchy of controls with their actions.” Milliken uses action plans following incidents to educate workers about the hierarchy of controls. When an incident occurs, a Cause record and Action Plan are required to prevent reoccurrence, but Milliken goes further. Plants must classify each action plan with the control type related to NIOSH’s hierarchy of controls (Elimination, Substitution, Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls, PPE). Teams are encouraged to identify more effective methods of risk control whether it be “Engineer out” or most effectively, “Eliminate” the risk.

2) Make it as Easy as Possible to Report Information

Lee Slusher, Director of Corporate Environmental at Milliken, says: “We have a higher volume of conditions that are being analyzed.” The easier it is for workers to report unsafe conditions, the more they will, leading to much higher volumes of conditions that can be analyzed. Once workers became familiar with entering information in Enablon, Milliken saw an increase in worker participation, resulting in more reports of potentially unsafe conditions. More unsafe conditions lead to more assessments that help to identify and eliminate safety hazards and operational risks. In addition, Milliken gathered ideas from its workforce on how to use Enablon, and leveraged the configurability of the platform to make changes, which also led to a greater use of the system.

3) Use the EHS Software System as a Collaboration Tool

Many organizations implement EHS management software as a tool to manage incidents, achieve compliance, identify risks, measure key metrics and indicators, etc. Milliken considers Enablon as a tool for all of these purposes, but more importantly the company also looks at Enablon as a collaboration tool. Milliken uses EHS software to establish and grow collaboration opportunities across more than 40 plants and facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. The data in Enablon is communicated back to workers and helps to create opportunities for improvement. It’s important for Milliken to have its commitment to safety clearly communicated across all of its facilities. Enablon helps to enhance the process that is already in place.

As a result of successfully using Enablon and bringing direct benefits to its associates and communities, we’re very glad to have designated Milliken as the winner of the Enablon Positive Impact Award at SPF Americas 2018. The recognition is fully deserved, and we look forward to learning more from one of the best companies in safety in America!

Banner Image of Milliken Arboretum Courtesy of Milliken & Company

Download NAEM’s “How to Successfully Deploy an EHS&S Software System” report to learn more about six steps that will help you start and stay on the right track as you introduce an EHS&S application that can deliver tangible benefits:

NAEM - How to Successfully Deploy an EHS&S Software System