Pace Dairy Foods Company of Minnesota is a privately held company located in Rochester, Minnesota, and processes natural cheese products for their parent company Kroger. In 2019, IDFA awarded Pace Dairy with two Dairy Industry Safety Recognition Awards, in both the Facilities for Outstanding Record in Worker’s Safety and Most Improved Facilities categories. Additionally, the company received the Minnesota Governor’s Outstanding Achievement Award for safety performance consecutively for the past three years, was recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Southeast Minnesota for the past seven years, and has been a recipient of Kroger’s Manufacturing Excellence Award for consecutive years.
Their commitment to worker safety through prevention and practice is one of the many reasons Pace Dairy has been recognized for their safety record.
All new hires attend a 3-day orientation, which includes safety regulatory compliance training like lockout/tagout affected, confined space affected, emergency evacuation, hazard communication, right to know, and more. During orientation they also receive Safety in Motion training, which is focused on the principles related to proper body mechanics, including red zone reaching and using same-side hand and foot techniques when lifting items.
At the end of orientation, employees also participate in a “hazard walk” on the production floor in their area where the company’s Job Safety Analysis documents are used to point out the hazards of their tasks as well as controls to prevent injury due to those hazards. From this trend information, the behavioral-based steering team forwards results to a specific department where action plans are created to reduce and hopefully eliminate the exposures seen in the work area.
Pace Dairy continually trains employees through monthly department team trainings and twice-yearly safety, quality, and reliability training sessions. Additionally, all employees attend an off-site training day at a local college, where they attend six classes, three of which are safety-related.
In an effort to prevent unsafe actions, Pace Dairy implemented an observation study where an associate watches a coworker at work to note safe actions along with ones that may expose the worker to harm. To date, 32 associates have volunteered as coaches for this behavioral-based safety process. These coaches are paired with other associates twice a month to help the observer improve their hazard recognition skills and provide feedback to the associate from the observation that has taken place.
In addition to the behavioral-based steering team, Pace Dairy has established a physical safety committee that focuses on plant conditions, regulatory compliance inspections, risk assessments, and other engagement activities. Along with the effective observation process and the opportunity to be a coach or a member of the physical safety team, all associates set a safety goal at the beginning of the year. These can range from completing two mini-OSHA inspections in two areas of the facility to attending and participating in one safety meeting and conducting one internal safety inspection.
In 2019, 93 percent of Pace Dairy associates completed their selected safety goal. The company has implemented a great variety of programs to educate their workers and hopefully prevent any injuries in their facilities. From weekly pre-production “Safety Huddles” to “My Safety Promise,” Pace Dairy has been able to positively impact their work area related to safety, quality, and line efficiencies.