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Best risk management scores two years in a row? Learn Menominee’s secret.

Risk management Menominee

Risk management audits can be a messy and tedious experience, but not for Maintenance Manager Jason Zorn and Safety Manager Jason Triest at our Menominee (Michigan) pulp mill. All the information they need is on a shelf in three-ring binders that hold a neatly organized history of the operation’s preventive maintenance (PM) work.

Risk managementBut the dates and details in those binders don’t tell the whole story. There’s a maintenance program that generates automated alerts for any new PMs, and a secret weapon: the proactive mindset of the 100 employees that ensures things get done.

The result? For the second year in a row, Menominee took the top spot among 253 pulp and paper mills to be the most risk adverse operation in the industry. There’s no award or ceremony, but if you ask anyone on site, they’ll know a little something about this impressive achievement. And some even more.

HOW PEOPLE MAKE THIS HAPPEN. “We talk a lot about having safety and PM systems, and that’s important, “ says Mill Manager Todd Clausen, “but someone has to do the work and someone has to make sure that work gets done. That’s where our people really make the difference.”

Jason Triest sees it as part of the overall pride employees take in their work. “I think there’s a true sense of ownership here. People are invested in keeping the place clean and running well. And you can see it.”

WHAT GETS AUDITED AND WHY. Risk management audits are performed by the insurance provider that covers property loss and production interruption. In this case, it’s FM Global. Usually an auditor shows up and works through a list of items that fall into two categories: hazards to equipment and hazards from fire and other natural risks. Major equipment failure or a fire could lead to an extended interruption in production so systems are tested and inspected on regular basis. The audit ensures everything is up to date.

Jason Zorn recalls that his first audit several years ago came as a surprise. It took nearly a full day to complete and even though there were a few recommendations, the mill still scored in the top five percent. But Zorn knew they could make it into a much more efficient and streamlined process.  He and Jason Triest began a proactive program that addressed any recommendations and ensured that, going forward, there would be a series of records at the ready.

GOOD PM RELIES ON GOOD COMMUNICATION. “We may get a recommendation, but these last few years, any recommendation has been minor and easily addressed because of the systems we have put in place,” says Zorn. As with health and safety, he explains that preventative maintenance starts with good communication.

Teams are briefed regularly about what must be done, and there’s an open and easy dialogue between managers and employees. So much so that it only takes a few days for everyone to know about a change in policy. That level of engagement is key he says. “The system only works if people buy into it.”

MANAGING RISK IMPROVES SAFETY.  The level of engagement Menominee is seeing is driving high levels of performance in other areas as well. In August, the mill broke its safety record by achieving over 1 million hours without a lost time injury, and it now has over 500,000 hours without an OSHA recordable incident.

Clearly, sound preventive maintenance practices and strong leaders who are engaged in safety bring this operation to a level of excellence that we can be proud of.

Congratulations to the Menominee team and many thanks to the employees that played a part in earning this recognition.

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