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.