DuPont Building Innovations’ James River Lab Transforms Safety Culture

DuPont News, May 4, 2012
The team achieved a “zero injury” performance level in 2011.
Tim McCann (left) presents the new Safety, Health & Environment Safety Coin recognition to the technical team at Building Innovations’ James River Lab. The team achieved a “zero injury” performance level in 2011.


The technical team at Building Innovations’ James River Lab can get involved in some pretty complicated stuff when they do product testing. Whether it’s dousing a wall with a Niagara-like cascade of water or simulating hair-raising, hurricane-like conditions to test the water and air resistive qualities of DuPont™ Tyvek® building wraps and flashing materials, the technical team keeps focused on the smallest of details.

But when it comes to safety, the team has taken a different approach. They’ve gotten back to basics and made their mantra, “Simplify, simplify, simplify!”

Recently, Building Innovations President Tim McCann was on hand to recognize the improved safety culture at the James River Lab near Richmond, Va., by honoring technical team members as recipients of the new DuPont SHE Coin for their efforts in advancing safety at the site. The new SHE Coin recognition program. which was launched in January, allows leaders to recognize employee contributions to SHE core values.

Just what did the team do to deserve this honor?

The team, which included Zarah Panaguiton, Keenan Watson, Shanot Kelty and Kim Boone, transformed the safety culture at the James River Lab by taking a lesson from the Six Sigma playbook and implementing a so-called “5S” approach to designing a safe and organized workplace. To promote safety at the site, the team also created an improved skills training program. The new program directly relates to the special skills and tools used by workers at the James River Lab site, and is designed to ensure that workers have the unique capabilities they need to do their jobs safely each and every day.

“A 5S approach to safety means the team took a very practical approach to making their facility safer. 5S is a simple and immensely useful approach to improvement that can achieve great results in a short time,” said Tim. “And it works! Last year, the James River Lab team had tremendous results and achieved a ‘zero injury’ performance level.”

“The technical team got back to basics by focusing on workplace organization and housekeeping, and that had a positive impact on the way the entire James River Lab staff approaches their work,” said Randy King, Buildings Innovations’ technical director “Equally important, the technical team implemented a new safety audit program that should keep Lab employees on track in maintaining a true culture of safety at the facility for years to come.”