Florida Power Kicks Off Lotto-Like Safety Program
A Collection of Case Histories
By DEAN SOLOV
Tribune Staff Writer
CRYSTAL RIVER - Radiation is one of those things where less is better. Dental hygienists; they clear out of the room during X-rays.
But working around radiation is so commonplace for nuclear plant workers that it's sometimes useful to remind them. So, Florida Power Corp. has embraced an incentive program aimed at doing just that.
Company supervisors have been handling out potentially prize-winning, scratch-off tickets to workers who go the extra mile reducing their fellow workers.
"When you're working around radiation, you can't see it; you can't smell it; you can't taste it," said William L. Rossfeld, manager of site nuclear services.
About a third of the tickets are winners, and lucky, radiation-conscious employees can redeem them for Florida Power nuclear plant T-shirts and baseball caps, and "ALARA bucks," which can be used to buy additional merchandise from a catalog. ALARA, an industry acronym, stands for "as low as reasonably achievable."
In some cases, utility officials have simply awarded the mock money, instead of the tickets.
The tickets and ALARA bucks, handed out during the recent maintenance outage, serve as "little pats on the back for our people out there to be a little more ALARA conscious," Rossfeld said.
Among those who get the pat was Eddie Pike, a mechanical superintendent for Flour pipe fitters, made about 100 welds outside the radiation area rather than inside.
"It could have been done inside, and he had the wherewithal to go outside the radiation area," Rossfeld said.
Florida Power has fared well at staying within federal guidelines for radiation exposure, but Rossfeld said the utility can always try to do better. He credits the program - along with other ALARA efforts - with helping cut exposure in half during the outage.
In addition to safety, less exposure means more savings because of cost involved in protecting employees working in radiation areas. The program - prizes and all - cost about $5,000, and it has probably saved at least $100,000, Rossfeld said.
The tickets, ALARA bucks and prizes all come out of the Bill Sims Co., a Columbia, S.C., company that specializes in programs to motivate employees.
Frank Medley, an account executive at Bill Sims, said the crystal River nuclear plants one of a dozen that has begun using the incentive program -with its transferable "money" - since 1990. The programs have saved those plants more than $2 million in two years, he said.
Florida Power has taken other steps to reduce radiation exposure, Rossfeld said, including using video cameras to allow work to be monitored from non-radiation areas.
"To say that our Disney Trip winner was excited is an understatement! I'm not sure we've got him scraped off the ceiling."
Case History: Dorsey Trailers:
In 1985, Dorsey Trailers had a problem. Dorsey was experiencing record turnover and absenteeism in its two plants. Like many other firms, Dorsey had a program rewarding one year of perfect attendance with cash. But employees simply weren't involved. Only five percent of Dorsey's employees recorded one year of perfect attendance. The Buck Program was used to recognize and encourage good safety & attendance habits. Employees earn Dorsey Bucks for each month of perfect attendance & safety. In merely three years, absenteeism has dropped from 7 percent to just 1.7 percent, the lowest rate EVER! This program saved Dorsey tremendous sums through better productivity and quality, and increased efficiency.
And in the four year period before the Buck Program was implemented, Dorsey Trailers' Elba, Alabama plant averaged 68 Lost Time Injuries per year. Once the Safety Buck and Safety Is...programs were instituted, Dorsey has experienced less than 10 lost time injuries each year.
Case History V.C.Summer Nuclear Station:
South Carolina Electric & Gas, VC Summer Nuclear Station had a problem. The Summer Station was suffering from a shortage of employee suggestions for its ALARA Program. Employee ideas for reducing radiation exposure for given operations and jobs are a crucial part of maintaining low radiation exposure and reducing nuclear waste. From its 1,000 employees, the Summer Station in 1989 received just 3 suggestions for ALARA improvement. After implementing the Buck Program they received over 117 ALARA Bright Idea Suggestions during only one year of running the Buck Program. Just one of these ideas saved them $30,000! The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was so impressed by the turnaround in employee involvement that they honored Summer Station's ALARA Buck program nationally.
First Atlanta Bank:
"After just nine months with the Buck Program, we boosted participation in our Wellness Program by 32 percent!"
"For the first time in five years, our attendance at our Monthly Safety Meetings went from 60 percent to 98 percent -- after just one month with the Safety Buck program!"
Poultry Processor Safety Manager:
"I feel it has helped to significantly improve our safety awareness in the plant: so much so that we had a record-setting year again last year with only six percent of our employees having a doctor-case accident -- A FORTY PERCENT DROP! I am looking forward to another great year."
"Thanks to the Safety Buck Program ™ we received a $300,000 refund on our Workmen’s Compensation Insurance!"
"We have improved our Safety Record so much that the Corporate Office wanted to know what we were up to! We should win our Corporate Safety Award this year."
"For the first time in five years, our attendance at our Monthly Safety Meetings went from 60 percent to 98 percent – after just one month with the Safety Buck program!"
"In 1993, before your program, we had 785 Lost Time Injuries and 128 Recordable Injuries on our work force of 1,000 people. As poultry processors, we were determined not to discourage injury reporting – that creates even bigger problems.
"To our surprise, in 1995, with your program we had only 15 Lost Time Injuries and 24 Recorable Injuries.
"And we received over 200 reports of unsafe acts and conditions that we corrected before any injury occurred. I would recommend your program to anyone!"
Quality Improvement & Suggestions
Carolina Power & Light:
"...just four months after we implemented the new incentive program, the ALARA group has received 52 valid ALARA suggestions. This is an overwhelming response considering that we only received 15 in 1990 and 4 in 1989!...We are grateful for your support...Thanks once again for such an innovative promotion."
"We had more suggestions that we could implement! Over 1500 ideas submitted in just 3 months! There is no doubt that a suggestion program in and of itself is a great tool for continuous improvement."
Jim Sheaffer, South Carolina Electric & Gas:
"Before we started using the Buck Program our thousand employees only came up with three quality improvement suggestions in 1989. In 1990, after using the Buck program for only nine months, we received over 130 new ideas! Just one of the ideas paid for our program TEN-FOLD!"
Perfect Attendance and Turnover Reduction
"We documented a 60% drop in absenteeism, and the Buck Program is a big factor in making that happen. Just after we kicked off the Buck Program(sm) I knew we had a reach winner!"
Selected Quotes from a Satisfied Customer
The Safety Bucks Program is something we started on in 1988. I was hesitant to use this. We had tried some other things with a limited amount of success, but we went ahead and tried it. It’s had a tremendous effect on us, not only on our Safety Program, but also our attendance program, our suggestion program. I found out when we were having our contract negotiations with a machinist for our next three years’ contract, and we got into this deal about insurance, that the company had always paid 100% and so forth. We had to get some help because of the cost increase. We’ve gone through this long drawn out thing for about a day and a half. Finally when we got to some resolution on that our Union President stood up, he’s a big burly guy who works in maintenance and said, "I’ll tell you one thing, you know we may pay for part of our insurance, but if you’re going to take them Safety Bucks away, we’re going to have to put on the boxing gloves.
I knew right then we had a winner. So that’s how we chose to use those.
The instant winner component is very popular and it’s the biggest factor in our Safety Program. Safety Program Results:
Since we’ve started these programs, our accident frequency rate is now 1/3 the industry average. Our plant has now reduced its injury rate by 60%+ in the last three years.
Last year our Pennsylvania plant won the Truck Trailers Association Safety contest in their division. Two years before that they were in last place. They came from 12th or 13th to 1st in two years. I guess the most tangible thing, especially from a financial stand point is that in May our company received a $35,000 retro-premium refund for our Workers-Comp carrier for the policy year we just finished. Actually what it was, the check they sent us back was $300,000 and they just told us not to pay the last month’s installment, which was our April $50,000 monthly payment.
Our Attendance Program:
So by having perfect attendance, an employee can actually earn cash value somewhere in the hundred to hundred-and-twenty dollar range, as far as merchandise.
Last year out of about 600 hourly employees, we had over 200 with perfect attendance, which we are real proud of.Our Suggestion Program:
We initially set this us as a joint labor management committee, in other words, we had guys from the shop on this and we had managers in there. We said we want your suggestions in all areas, productivity, improvement, safety ideas, quality ideas, etc.
We got over 1,400 suggestions in the first six months. We were literally overwhelmed with them. We had a strong desire to drive this down all the way to where it was entirely an hourly team, and we did that. We actually dedicated two full time maintenance people to work with committee, to all they would do is work with the people on implementing these suggestions.