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Minimizing risks with routine safety audits.

Paul Green is responsible for safety audits around the world at KION Group. A visit with him to Linde (China) in Xiamen.

An eye for detail In order to closely monitor health and safety at a plant, you have to be on site. Paul Green listens to his colleagues in Xiamen as they explain the measures they have taken.

Paul Green sees everything – it is his job to pay attention to the details. Has everything been stored in the rack so that it is stable? Is the weight written on every box? Does it say on the rack what the maximum load for each compartment is? “All the necessary signs and notices are there,” says Green, who has been the Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) Manager of the KION Group for eight years. He is on an inspection tour of the Linde (China) plant in the heat of Xiamen in southern China with local HSE managers Yu Yongbin and Lin Yixin. His tour covers production, machinery, warehouses, and testing areas. “I check that everything is in order generally and that the equipment is correctly maintained,” he says, “but I also look out for things like the behavior of suppliers and contractors on site.” After all, it is Linde (China) who is accountable for this.

It is part of Paul Green's job to look behind the scenes.

Nowadays, Xiamen is one of the best sites in the Group.

Paul Green
HSE Manager
KION Group

Every two years, Green visits all the plants in the KION Group – he is constantly travelling. He first visited Xiamen in 2010. “Back then, my initial impression was that the basic precautions were in place, but that there was room for improvement. Nowadays, Xiamen is one of the best sites in the Group. Linde (China) improved more or less everything, from protective gear and machine safety to the introduction of emergency stop buttons and safety belts for truck drivers. There are hardly any LTIs (lost time injuries) in Xiamen.”

Well thought-out

The safety audit is carried out every two years. This is where Lin Yixin and Yu Yongbin present the changes that have been implemented.

Raising awareness and becoming better

When it comes to safety, Green likes to encourage competition between KION sites, with the aim of raising standards across the Group. “Xiamen is currently in the third place,” he tells his local colleagues in the welcoming meeting, and encourages them to aim for the top again. Xiamen has previously been the KION Safety Champion. The audit, held every two years, and the monthly safety updates, which incorporate new measures and any accidents that have occurred, provide the basis for the league table. During his visits, Green and the local managers work their way through a 36-page form that is the same for all sites around the world. The highest possible score is 100. If the score reaches 88 percent or higher, then the scope of the next survey is increased. Xiamen achieved 91 percent in the last audit, so this year the audit will go into a little more detail and also look at the safety culture, Green explains.

The focus will be on questions such as: To what extent have managers and employees taken this issue on board, and how are they raising awareness of it in the workforce? After the last audit in 2015, Linde Xiamen intensified its efforts to communicate the issue of safety, says HSE supervisor Lin. In the daily production meetings, for example, safety is now as much a point of discussion as quality. Furthermore, a feed focused on safety topics was launched on China’s popular social media platform WeChat.

91 %
This is how many of the health and safety requirements the plant in Xiamen fulfilled in Green's questionnaire – a record result.
The auditor is satisfied – there was hardly anything to fault in Xiamen.

And if we identify a problem, Green helps us to find a solution.

Lin Yixin
Manager HSE
Linde (China)
Thinking of health and safety at all times – the plant in Xiamen is exemplary.

Reducing risks for the long term

The cooperation with Linde (China) works very well, Green says. He learns a lot on his travels: “You get a whole new perspective on the world”. He believes that diplomacy is the most important skill when it comes to convincing people of the importance of HSE. “You have to understand what makes people tick in each country.” In China, he says, people are quick to accept and implement suggestions, and sometimes they come up with little ideas of their own. In return, Lin also learns a lot from Green, “especially about machine safety, chemicals, and risk assessment. And if we identify a problem, he helps us to find a solution.”

It can be difficult to switch off and not constantly think of safety, even outside of work, Green says. “In three out of four cases, I will say something if I see risky behavior.” In his eyes, using a smartphone while driving is the worst. “People have to learn to identify risks themselves so that they can take the right precautions,” he adds. “There’s no gain to be had in wrapping them up in cotton wool.” Green enjoys seeing sites develop their own safety culture over the years, as Linde has in Xiamen.

There is little to find fault with here – a knock on a foot of a rack and a slightly worn belt for turning heavy engine parts. Lin and Yu take care of it immediately. Green is very pleased with the response, as he is with the rest of the factory. He points to a lifting platform set into the floor. “Every tripping hazard has been secured and marked with an eye-catching color. That’s the icing on the cake,” he says, clearly impressed.

When safety is guaranteed, the operation runs smoothly. The plant in Xiamen will do its best to become KION Safety Champion in the next audit in two years' time.