2018 Sustainability Report

Health & Safety

Taking care of business means taking care of each other.

Integrating Health & Safety Into Every Process

Team members in our processing plants use their hands every day — harvesting animals, cutting meat, packaging food and performing other manual tasks. Ensuring all of these tasks are done in the safest manner is our utmost priority. We are committed to improving the health and safety of our employees by setting bold goals, building strategic communication and training systems, creating a safety culture and rewarding safety excellence.

A team member smiles at another

A Safe Work Environment

We aim to prevent injuries from occurring by creating a safe place to work. Tyson employs more than 550 health and safety team members across the company who focus on safety training, safety audits, ergonomics, health care and more.

Our operations have had ergonomics programs since the late 1980s that continually explore ways to make production jobs easier. Program efforts include developing improvements in equipment, tools and processes to make jobs less physically demanding. Examples include changing the height of work stations, adding space between workers and developing more ergonomically designed tools. It’s not unusual for us to make changes in workstations, equipment or processes based on the feedback we receive from hourly team members who are part of one of our ergonomics committees.

Our total recordable incident rate has decreased for the past three consecutive fiscal years.

Goals and Progress

We aspire to zero work-related injuries, and in 2017 announced a goal to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses by 15 percent year-over-year, using traditional Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) incident calculations.

In FY2018, we reduced our total recordable incident rate by 22 percent compared to our FY2017 performance. Continuing to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses will build on the significant progress that has been realized in recent years. After losing two employees to nonproduction activities in FY2017, we were pleased to report zero workplace fatalities in FY2018.

Our total recordable incident rate has decreased for the past three consecutive fiscal years. This progress has been the result of evolving our approach to health and safety from a compliance-based focus to one that incorporates behavior and engineering-based components of health and safety. Our strategy now more closely tracks, measures and analyzes team members’ behaviors and responses.

When an incident occurs, we go straight to the source to collect data and analyze the root cause of an incident. This allows us to make decisions based on actionable data to better reduce health and safety risk exposures that team members encounter daily. Once we better understand why an incident occurred, our health and safety team can create proactive solutions. In this way, we look at safety, not as an event that happens and to which we need to react, but rather as part of the process in which we conduct our everyday operations.

We help plant workers stay safe and healthy with practices such as rotating team members between certain processing jobs to help prevent fatigue, ensuring production equipment is working properly and providing rest breaks. The timing and frequency of rest breaks for team members at our plants varies by type of operation, state law requirements, and the preferences of the USDA inspectors and our team members. In general, some plants have one 30-minute unpaid break or more per shift, while others have two breaks of more than 20 minutes. Production supervisors are required to allow team members to leave the production line for restroom breaks.

The drivers who transport our products across the country face a distinct set of risks that we continually work to address. We introduced new safety features in 2018 to help drivers stay safe on the roads while loading and unloading. For example, a rough textured coating to the steps of all new trucks will increase traction, helping to prevent slip and fall injuries. A “smart valve” on new trucks allows drivers to over-inflate a truck’s airbags, which in turn enables them to raise a trailer’s dolly legs off the ground instead of straining to do so manually. We are also training drivers on defensive driving habits and using technology to introduce advanced safety features and truck drivers’ use of those features to aid in further training.

Safety at Tyson Foods*

  • Total Recordable Incident Rate: Number of work-related injuries and illnesses per 100 team members.
  • Days Away, Restricted and Transfer Rate: Number of work-related injuries and illnesses resulting in a team member missing work, having restricted work activity or being transferred from their regular work assignment per 100 team members.
  • Lost Time Incident Rate: Number of work-related injury and illnesses that result in one or more days away from work per 100 team members.

FY2018 OSHA Recordables by OSHA Illness Section

  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Hearing
  • Respiratory
  • Skin Disorder

Two Tyson drivers stand by their trucks

Training and Communication

Team members spend many hours each year training to work safely and to have a clear understanding of possible health and safety hazards related to their jobs. New team members receive awareness-level training regarding the health and safety hazards and procedures appreciable to their jobs and work areas in their facility. Approximately 30 health and safety topics are discussed during this training. Managers in operations undergo regular training on processes and best practices, and we support their continual professional education and development.

We are exploring the use of virtual reality for safety training. A pilot program in FY2018 focused on general safety awareness and allowed for training on hazardous situations without imminent danger for the team member. A review of data and feedback will determine the effectiveness and value of this approach.

Beyond formal training, communication is critical to ensuring that health and safety changes filter across the enterprise. We have a two-pronged approach to communication. We leverage our safety governance structure to communicate announcements across our facilities in real time so that our health and safety professionals know when to react, where to go and what to do.

Health and safety governance processes are designed to align the executive team with what’s happening on the plant floor. In addition, we leverage our technology capabilities to disseminate information quickly across the enterprise if needed. Our plants have safety committees that meet at least monthly, and at some sites more frequently, for round table discussions involving plant management and hourly team members.

An important way we reach team members is through our We Care safety program which is designed to improve plant safety communications, awareness and practices. In FY2018, we expanded our We Care safety program to include all Tyson plants. This allowed us to leverage a safety governance structure led by our Executive Safety Council that was formed in 2016. This leadership team establishes enterprise safety programs and expectations, which then disseminate to plant safety councils and hourly safety committees. We feel this will further improve safety communications, awareness and practices.

Valuing Team Members’ Voices

Our team members are important participants in driving a culture of safety at Tyson. We leverage the insights of safety committees we have in place at all plants. Safety committees raise health and safety concerns to management and work collaboratively with them to create action plans and implement solutions. Committee members encourage safety awareness, promote team members’ interest in health and safety issues, engage team members in safety initiatives and motivate others to follow safe work practices.

Committees also help conduct workplace safety inspections and offer an additional avenue for team members to report safety hazards or concerns. These committees include management and hourly team members representative of our workforce at each facility across job categories, gender and demographics.

Language accommodations allow non-English-speaking team members to participate. Team members are compensated for their time and are free to participate under our non-retaliation policy. Reports from plant safety committees are made available to all hourly team members and shared with management to ensure enterprise-wide communication about new or emerging safety issues in our plants.

Production line speeds in our plants follow USDA limits and vary based on stage of production, layout and capacity of a plant and number of workers available. Appropriate staffing for a production line is set by industrial engineers who conduct studies to determine the number of people needed to safely yet effectively process certain product mixes. Safety is a key consideration, and team members may stop a production line at any time for worker or food safety issues, without fear of retaliation. Safety committee members help ensure team members feel comfortable asking for a line to be stopped when necessary.

Safety committees also encourage team members to report injuries received on the job, regardless of how minor an injury may be. We follow a systematic approach for the early reporting, intervention, evaluation and treatment of injuries and illnesses, and do not retaliate against team members for reporting.

Tyson Drivers

Oversight and Recognition

Tyson is committed to third-party auditing and regular reporting. We publicly report our annual progress on injury, illness and retention rates. We also post achievement awards recognizing plants that scored 85 percent or higher on our third-party social compliance audits, which include safety topics. Frequent safety audits from plant and corporate safety and health professionals are essential parts of our continual improvement in workplace safety.

Each year, we honor locations that achieved specific measurable safety goals for the year. The awards help us reinforce our values of providing a safe workplace for our team members. Our award criteria raise awareness of key safety issues, promote continual improvement and recognize locations for making significant progress.

Production line

Sustainably Feeding the World, Together

Expanding Our Workplace Safety Efforts

Tyson Foods and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) have a shared goal – to take care of our people. That’s been true since 1988, when we launched a landmark ergonomics program that has reduced workplace injuries and illnesses in our beef and pork operations. In the 30 years since, our partnership has grown into one that union leaders call a model for the food industry.

Together, Tyson and UFCW have developed safety programs including Project “Why Not,” which encourages management, front-line workers and the union to evaluate job functions for ergonomic improvement, and appoints safety captains responsible for day-to-day safety and ergonomic monitoring. The secrets to our success are collaboration and communication, which means staffing and certifying adequate numbers of interpreters, listening to team members when they have concerns, and prioritizing and addressing concerns that are raised.

Our next step is expanding this work to our poultry plants, where UFCW represents workers at 12 locations. As we gain insights from these collaborative safety programs, we share learnings with our non-union plants, allowing all team members to benefit.

Stouffer and Poole
Footnotes & References

* Data includes Cobb-Vantress U.S. facilities. AdvancePierre Foods, American Proteins Inc. and Tecumseh Poultry are included in FY2018 but not prior years.