Category Archives: Safety

Safety – DeKALB Molded Plastics’ Top Priority

Safety truly is a feeling, and everyone can recall a time where they did not feel safe. This uncomfortable emotion usually brings one action to the forefront – leave as soon as possible.

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, safety is everything. When our employees come to work or when guests visit, we want them and their families to know that DeKALB is a safe place.

We believe from top to bottom at our company that safety requires everyone. When we feel safe, we are more productive and happier. When being safe, we maintain a sense of security for everyone who enters our building.

Why Workplace Safety Matters

While there will always be critical safety regulations for every business to follow, ensuring the safety of everyone takes work. In January 2021, Honeywell conducted a survey that found that 68% of workers do not feel completely safe in their buildings.

In a study conducted by Lockheed Martin, they developed a safety culture that resulted in employee productivity increasing by 24% and factory costs decreased by 20%.

Beyond safety being a basic human right, developing a safe work environment creates happier, more productive employees who are less accident-prone, decreasing downtime.

Making Workplace Safety Our Top Priority

In late 2019, while attending the annual Manufacturer's Association for Plastics Processors, Inc. (MAPP) Benchmarking Conference, DeKALB was struck by the powerful story shared by keynote speaker Kina Hart. Kina shared the horrific tragedy of how she lost her arm within an hour of the first day of her summer job at age 20. Kina’s living testament for safety reminded us about how we need to make safety personal.

Kina’s inspiring message empowered us to reflect on our thought process and reemphasize the importance of safety throughout our company. After completing our 2020 goal planning, our top priority was ensuring that we were fully committed to safety. The result of our planning was a zero-tolerance policy on accidents in the workplace. Outlined in our updated Safety Policy, DeKALB is dedicated to creating a safe work environment because we are unwilling to give up anyone’s safety.

“Our goal was to create an environment where people no longer felt like they were reprimanding someone if they ask them to put the safety glasses on,” said Doug Bonecutter, general manager at DeKALB Molded Plastics. “We wanted to create a sense of caring about others regarding safety to the point where I have to say something or I may regret it.”

How DeKALB Refocused Safety Efforts

Having a safety policy is just the start. The next step is to create a culture where everyone buys into it. While DeKALB Molded Plastics has always committed to safety, we saw an opportunity to encourage growth by having employees think about their personal safety and the safety of those around them at every opportunity.

We implemented several different tactics to make this happen:

  • Safety Tab on our Website: From our manufacturing floor to the website, safety is vitally important to us – which is why it is the first tab on our website. Our safety page includes our safety policy and our first safety video, which explains our zero-tolerance goal.
  • Revised our Coaching Philosophy – The DeKALB Way: To make safety the priority of everyone, we have empowered our employees to call out unsafe situations. Every leadership person at our facility can do a coaching event with any employee to talk about something they see them doing right or something they need to change related to safety. We created this philosophy not to call out mistakes but to ensure that all of our employees are safe.
  •  Instituting the Stop, Call, Wait System:
    • Stop – the person or activity that is going on unsafely.
    • Call – to have it fixed or get the proper PPE, etc.
    • Wait – before resuming, to ensure that the situation is safe or the PPE is on.

This system allows everyone on the floor to point out good things or give reminders related to safety. There are blue cards for employee-to-employee interaction - helpful for building a family culture that cares enough about each other to immediately take action to stop at-risk behavior or recognize safety leadership.

  • Ready to Respond: At DeKALB, we are thrilled that our entire company has bought into safety, which has extended well past following our guidelines. Currently, almost one-third of our employees are certified CPR and first aid first responders. Recently one of our employees on the floor stepped up and went through training to be a certified CPR and first aid teacher, allowing us to train additional personnel right at the plant as needed.
  • Weekly Safety Talks – Each week, every person in the facility attends a safety talk, led by the supervisor, where employees and departments who meet their safety contact goals are recognized. These meetings also provide the opportunity to reiterate the safety theme of the month. DeKALB also tracks overall safety contacts as a KPI and discusses them at these meetings.

In addition, we have revamped our safety committee and meet monthly. US Compliance partnered with DeKALB to help update all of our written programs, ensuring our training is complete along while helping to train someone at the facility to allow for them to be certified to lead instruction for new employees.

Overall, safety at DeKALB is an all-out effort by everyone every day. Safety not only requires you to look out for your safety, but by practicing safe work habits, you are also looking out for everyone around you.

"Our program has changed the mindset that safety is the responsibility of the company, to it being the responsibility of everyone," said Bonecutter.

Safety Recognized - The DeKALB Difference

In early 2021, MAPP awarded DeKALB Molded Plastics with their 2020 Safety Award, a significant reflection of the hard work that all of our employees have done to make DeKALB a safe environment for everyone.

“Every single person here is engaged in our safety effort, and our employees have embraced the safety contact process,” said Marcia Lee, Human Resources Manager at DeKALB Molded Plastics. “It is a point of pride in getting recognized for the good things that you are doing and the work that everyone is involved in to make sure that we are all safe.”

We are thrilled with the success of our refocused efforts and are quickly establishing a reputation for when you think about safety, think DeKALB Molded Plastics.

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Grateful: A Thankful Letter from the President

As the year nears the end, this period always serves as a time of reflection, a time to look back and acknowledge the challenges while remembering the highlights. In most years, we sit around a table of loved ones and go around sharing memories. While we will remember 2020 for its unique tests, and our holiday celebrations might look different, there is still plenty to be grateful for this year.

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, this year began with an optimistic outlook.  We were committed to a strong year, leading with our strategic focus on safety. As our team planned our 2020 goals, we made it clear – we will never give up on anyone’s safety. No matter what, our goal remains the same - zero safety issues! At DeKALB, safety is everyone’s responsibility. From our employees to our guests, we are committed to protecting everyone who steps foot into our facility.

Dedicated Employees at DeKALB Molded Plastics

This year challenged our staff like never before. From adjusting to new safety policies to adapting to new COVID-19 protocols, our team has been excellent at being open-minded to change and continuing to come to work with a positive attitude.

I am so appreciative of the efforts of our staff. All of their hard work throughout the year has helped us gain new business opportunities and grow the partnerships of existing customers. Through it all, we were able to stay true to our core mission to provide unsurpassed satisfaction to all of our customers. I'd like to personally extend a thank you to the DeKALB staff for bringing energy and passion to the organization, buying into our process, allowing us to grow as professional individuals and as a business.

Our Customers – New & Old

To all of our customers, first and foremost, thank you for doing business with us. Without you, our business would not look the same. While this is true for any company, it resonates so much more this year as we have seen many have to scale back or close their doors.

This year required added patience as we all navigated through unscripted challenges. We cannot express enough how much we appreciate your loyalty, support and trust in DeKALB Molded Plastics to provide you with your structural foam needs. Thank you for believing in us, and we look forward to continuing to serve you as our on-going relationship continues to develop.

The DeKALB Community

Last and certainly not least, from our entire team at DeKALB Molded Plastics, we value the genuine relationship we have with our local community. From the day we first opened our doors, one of our core values has been to be an active member of our local community. To us, continuous improvement and care for our employees extend well past our walls and into our city. We dedicate our time to our community to help create a growing and supportive environment all around us.

We are grateful for the relationships that we have built within the area of Butler, IN. We are always happy to show our support as an active member of the community. While this year has had many canceled events, we were proud to still have the opportunity to give back through the annual United Way of DeKalb County Day of Caring event in September. However, one event that has been altered is our annual recognition dinner that honors members of the Butler Police Department, Butler Fire Department and locally stationed Parkview DeKalb EMTs. While the dinner is postponed, we will still be making a presentation of our support at an upcoming Butler City Council meeting next month.

I could go on about the many things I am indebted to, even in this time of challenge. Without the dedication of our staff, the support of our community and the confidence of our customers, DeKALB Molded Plastics would not be in business. For that, I am comforted, and I know the DeKALB teammates are too!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! – From all of us at DeKALB Molded Plastics

We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 - Rick Walters


Creating a Safe Work Environment

What does a true commitment to safety look like? At DeKALB Molded Plastics, safety is our number one priority, and we are dedicated to creating a safe work environment. From our employees to our guests, we want to guarantee that everyone who steps foot into our facility will leave in the same condition they came in. Our safety policy highlights much of this promise, but truly being dedicated to safety means remaining flexible, making adjustments to our policy as things change.

DeKALB’s Response to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many workplaces to alter their safety policies, DeKALB has made it our goal to quickly adapt, utilizing the latest CDC guidelines and recommendations, ensuring that we continue to keep our facility as safe as possible. Safety is the responsibility of everyone, and during this unprecedented time, it takes an increased focus to continue to maintain a safe work environment.

Some of the ways DeKALB is staying safe during COVID-19 include:

  • Additional cleaning of common areas, tools and workspace.
  • Face coverings worn at all times when working with other employees. Additionally, new employees are required to wear a mask at all times for their first 14 days.
  • All non-critical business meetings have been canceled or moved to a teleconference. The in-person meetings that do occur will limit the people involved, maintaining safe social distancing practices.
  • Hand sanitizer stations placed in various areas for use between washing hands, at start/end of the shift, and before/after breaks.
  • Limited the visitors in the building and those that do visit must complete and pass a health screening before being allowed to enter.
  • Maintaining social distancing of at least six feet. Throughout our facility, there are visual indicators to highlight proper distance for clocking in and in meetings.

Regardless of the number of safety guidelines and practices that are in place to maintain safety, we believe in constantly working together to promote safe practices throughout the workday.

Continuous Improvement - The DeKALB Way

One differentiating safety measure that DeKALB takes is through our card system. There are two types of cards in our system, green cards and blue cards. Both of these represent coaching, training, or acknowledgment opportunities. The blue cards are given out from peer-to-peer, and typically this is used to thank a team member for doing the right thing, helping a co-worker who may be struggling, or to provide training for a process. The peer review helps us to call out any potential unsafe practices or highlight a job well done. The green cards come from a member of our leadership team and are given to employees to recognize them for their contributions or to explain the importance of a particular job and how the process could be improved.

Nearly everyone has experienced the feeling of their stomach dropping and heart rate steadily rising as their manager is coming straight towards them. This scene typically means that you are in trouble, or you did something incorrectly. At DeKALB, we wanted to create a team-friendly, positive work environment that provides unique opportunities for anyone to take the time to appreciate the dedication and abilities an employee brings to our organization. These cards are effective because they can be a great motivating factor, and they not only help to improve our culture, but they offer the chance for us to coach our employees.

This system helps us continue to deliver the results that our customers expect and supports our on-going commitment to continuous improvement. The cards create an accountability system for all of our employees to do the right thing, keeping everyone safe, and knowledge-sharing opportunities, which help to cultivate a fun energy in the workplace. The goal of these cards is to have four positive interactions for every one negative. DeKALB employees did a great job and finished 2019 with a 3.5-to-1 ratio.

A Full Toolbox of Safety

DeKALB also holds weekly meetings that we call our ‘Safety Toolbox Talk’. These meetings provide the opportunity for supervisors to go over a different topic and refresh everyone on how to stay safe.

Topics that we discuss at these meetings include:

  • Driving a forklift safely
  • How to use a cut glove
  • Proper lifting technique
  • When to use a heat glove

These meetings are typically short and are meant to go over the basics, but have been effective with our staff, as they serve as friendly reminders for safety. The other benefit of these meetings is the opportunity to quickly address any updates or adjustments to safety policies, or how we can improve, pointing to examples that may have been brought up through our card system.

Why Safety is at the Forefront

With our safety policies in place, our card system and our flexibility to adjust to a pandemic, there is a clear expectation at DeKALB - we care about the safety of each of our employees. We want to always make it understood that safety is not an individual responsibility, but it is the duty of every employee at DeKALB Molded Plastics. Our policy reminds our team to observe all safety rules, follow safe work practices, and immediately report injuries or unsafe conditions. When we all join in together, a safer environment is created, which results in a happier and more productive staff. A dedication to safety really is a win-win for everyone.

DeKALB Molded Plastics Committed to Safety

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, we strive to ensure that everyone who enters our facility is entering a safe work environment. As a team planning our 2020 goals, we decided we’re not willing to give up on anyone’s safety. It doesn’t matter if you’re an employee, a customer, a vendor, or a truck driver, our goal remains the same – ZERO! At DeKALB, safety is everyone’s responsibility. We are conscientious not only about our safety but the safety of others around us.

The benefits of maintaining a safe work environment are many, but first and foremost, safety is about the dedication and execution of protecting those within your building. We at DeKALB, want to send our teammates home in the same condition they arrived in.

DeKALB’s strategic focus on a safe work environment boosts employee morale, which in turn, increases productivity, efficiency and profit margins. When our teammates feel like they have a good, safe work environment, they feel like they can make a difference. There are fewer staff absences, less staff turnover and improves the quality of work.

Regardless of the number of safety guidelines and practices that are in place, we believe they won’t do any good if our teammates are not aware and invested in following those guidelines. We at DeKALB embrace the fact that the safest work environment occurs when employees, at all levels of the organization, work together to communicate and adhere to the safety standards defined. Our safety program has been successful because it encourages employees to report unsafe situations and behaviors, promoting safe practices throughout the workday.

Equipment maintenance is important at DeKALB. When equipment is not properly maintained, the work environment can become a hazard, even beyond the risk of malfunctions. Our teammates have been trained and are prepared to know what to look for when a machine is not operating correctly. Our staff is on the lookout for warning signs like vibrations, alarms, leaks and unusual noises. When our equipment is being maintained, we make sure safeguards are in place. Additionally, our staff is cautiously responsible for moving materials in multiple conditions: raw, in-process and finished goods. Inappropriate handling of material can be dangerous, resulting in overexertion and exhaustion, running the risk of equipment failure. Our team values how important it is to physically lift objects the right way, which reduces the risk for strains and sprains or even broken bones.

At DeKALB Molded Plastics, we take safety seriously. When an employee grows complacent with safety, it can become a huge liability to the team member’s wellbeing and the company. We believe that most workplace accidents can be prevented simply by being alert. Heavy machinery and forklifts can especially be dangerous, and that’s why we require our team to be constantly vigilant and consistently aware of their surroundings.

At the end of the day, we deliver high-quality structural foam components that are used in many of today’s medical and material handling end products. Our high standards for quality are paralleled by our high standards for safety within our building and for our team members.