Jun 12th 2024

Meet the Safety Heroes of Novolex in Reno: Exemplifying the Novolex Commitment to Safety


June marks National Safety Month, a key inflection point for Novolex, as it allows us to reflect on all the work done to promote safety and put Human Performance (HP) principles into practice. Across plants, Novolex has seen tremendous growth in the number of employees who demonstrate they’ve adopted a “SAFETY ALWAYS” approach which also provide key learnings from the production floor that help put even more defenses in place and identify potential risks and hazards.

A Positive Shift in Novolex Safety Culture

As of this month, Novolex has trained more than 600 people as HP Champions, and the principles of Human Performance are increasingly taking root across our facilities. “As a result, we are seeing a very positive shift in our safety culture,” shared Novolex Director of Corporate Health & Safety Courtney Kuykendall.

The Corporate Health & Safety Team sponsors Event Learning Teams (ELTs) in plants when there are incidents and regularly scheduled Operation Learning Teams (OLTs) to help educate and enhance safety, production, and quality processes. Just over a year ago, Novolex also rolled out the Good Catch Program, which encourages employees to flag any near misses – a situation that could have resulted in a safety problem but was avoided. The Good Catch Program calls out opportunities for improvement and also gives a shout-out to “Safety Heroes,” members of our Novolex family who go the extra mile to work safely and coach others to do the same. To date, Novolex has received around 7,000 submissions that showcase Good Catch events.

All Eyes on Reno, Nevada

The Novolex Reno, Nevada paper packaging plant has been busy driving all things safety. Under the leadership of Plant Manager John Potts, the plant enabled all managers, supervisors, and leadership team members to attend the HP Champions course as soon as it became available. Everyone who completed the course was recognized by placing gold “Human Performance Champion” embossed seals on photos of them posted around the plant. The plant also enable all hourly team members to take the entry-level HP course, and their completion was recognized with a silver “Human Performance” embossed seal. It did not take long for some of the hourly colleagues to ask how they could earn a gold seal.

Excited by this employee-wide interest in safety certification, the plant challenged itself to have 25% of the hourly team take the HP Champions course by the end of March, ultimately achieving 28%. The plant now has the hourly Champions lead Learning Teams and involves them in process and safety improvements. Reno’s Human Resources manager is also working with Corporate EHS to implement the HP Champions course in Spanish and will be one of the trainers facilitating upcoming courses. “Along with many other things, some small but effective, giving so many hourly team members the opportunity to become HP Champions has helped to disseminate HP Principles throughout the ranks, so to speak, and keep the HP flame lit,” said John.

Between daily pre-shift meetings, routine safety training, monthly safety training, and Safety Committee meetings, and safety-focused “Field Trips,” the team has covered a lot of ground. Through the “Field Trips,” in particular, team members visit different areas of the plant, act out potential risk scenarios, spot potential hazards, or recreate actual incidents and create a dialogue to identify risks and improve processes. “This is a great way to get everyone engaged, put them in a code yellow mindset of heightened awareness, and encourage them to point out potential hazards,” highlighted John.

Looking Ahead

This fall, Novolex Director of Corporate Health & Safety Courtney Kuykendall and EHS Training Manager Jason Bell will join Mike McCarroll, President and CEO of PROSAFE Solutions, Inc., at the Georgia Safety Conference to discuss the Novolex journey with human and organizational performance.

Novolex is incredibly proud of the hard work of our plants and internal teams in implementing the HP model and blame-free safety principles. Leadership has seen an improvement in employee morale, pride in work product, sense of purpose and belonging, and overall well-being, as well as a reduction in safety incidents. As John says, Novolex looks forward to keeping the safety flame lit and further developing these efforts in their journey to become a learning organization.