April 10, 2017Elizabeth Derwort became a peer-to-peer safety facilitator for our Knoxville, Tenn., plant in April 2015, after being chosen by that facility’s leadership team.
“I knew nothing about safety before, and now it’s my passion,” said the former Shipping Coordinator for the plant. “It’s constantly on my mind, no matter where I am. All of the steering team here in Knoxville feel the same way. And it’s become a part of our daily life not only at work but at home. I’m pretty sure it drives my family insane, but now they are paying more attention to safety too.”
In 2015, we implemented a new program across all of our facilities to improve safety accountability and leadership. The idea behind the program goes something like this: Employees who are empowered in safety have an opportunity to promote real and meaningful change, resulting in fewer workplace injuries.
As a facilitator, Elizabeth works with a safety steering team of co-workers at the Knoxville plant. Together, they train their colleagues to perform peer-to-peer observations of worker performance. The goal is to have one monthly observation for each of the plant’s approximately 800 employees. Observations aren’t meant to just point out negative behaviors that could put employees or others at risk. Observers are trained to equally praise employees for the safe actions they routinely take.
Either way, it’s a “no name, no blame” process. Observations don’t result in any disciplinary actions. They are truly aimed at promoting good behavior and encouraging dialogue. On any given day, Elizabeth and the facilitators at our other manufacturing locations can be found coaching observations, crunching safety data, and making presentations on safety performance to Keurig leaders.
Elizabeth shared that the peer-to-peer program was quickly accepted by coworkers, with very little hesitation. Unlike safety observations conducted by supervisors, the peer-to-peer conversations create a feeling of camaraderie — a sense that employees are looking out for one another.
“Peer-to-peer observation is looked at differently,” said Elizabeth. “It shows that we care for one another, and it opens up the ability for honesty in a way that doesn’t happen with a supervisor. These observations don’t stress people out the way a supervisor review might.”
The best part of the observations, Elizabeth said, is that they are helping to improve safety awareness at Keurig. “We’re changing the culture so safety is part of our everyday jobs,” she said.