Cummins’ Seymour Engine Plant has been rated among the safest and healthiest workplaces in Indiana.

The Seymour factory, which employs about 700 people, recently achieved “STAR” certification in the state’s Voluntary Protection Program.

The rating means Cummins has an exemplary worker safety and health management system in place and has completed and passed an external comprehensive workplace safety and health audit, according to the Indiana Department of Labor.

Also to achieve STAR status, the facility’s workplace injury and illness rates must be below the national average for its respective industry.

Cummins rates around 70 percent below the national average, according to the department of labor.

That hasn’t always been the case, however, and the company is proud of the steps it has taken to make safety and health a priority for its employees, said Jon Mills, Cummins director of external communications.

“In 2007-2008, we did not have a defined safety vision, and we ended the year with 18 OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recordable accidents and 195 first-aid cases,” Mills said. “The culture was one of little personal responsibility or involvement from employees and no formal safety team or committee.”

By the end of 2008, Cummins formed a Health, Safety and Environment Steering Committee to change the company from being reactive to proactive when it comes to safety, with a goal of making safety the responsibility of every employee, Mills said.

With the guidance and support of the committee, the team-based program called Seymour Safety Solutions began. The program defined the fundamental requirements used to guide the plant toward having an incident-free workplace.

“It’s firmly based upon the idea that all safety incidents are preventable,” Mills said.

The program is led by Safety Champions representing all areas and departments in the facility. Those “champions” are responsible for conducting monthly safety meetings and assisting with issues sand employee health and safety concerns.

Along with Seymour Safety Solutions, the plant also participates in a Race to Safety Excellence program, Mills said.

“This incentive program awards miles for meeting safety requirements defined by our steering committee,” he said. “Teams earn miles by completing training and through area audits. A visual display of a race track with an Indy car for each team is mounted in the plant to show the progress. Prizes are given to the winning team each year.”

Mills said having employees engaged in safety and health programs has led to a better work environment overall and increased productivity.

“We are focused on expanding capacity, improving quality, improving efficiency and lowering costs and supporting our sustainability vision,” Mills said. “But all this is for naught if we cannot provide a clean, healthy and safe environment for our employees. To compete in a global environment, we rely on our ability to put health and safety first.”

Cummins SEP manufactures four models of diesel engines including the QSK95, a 16-cylinder, 4,000-horsepower engine known as the Hedgehog.

The STAR designation is the highest level of certification a work site can achieve.

Through its proactive efforts, the plant has been successful in reducing and eliminating workplace injuries and illnesses, said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick J. Ruble.

“The management, employees and staff at Cummins Seymour Engine Plant have an approach that prioritizes safety and health to the forefront of everything they do,” Ruble said. “This prioritization places Cummins SEP into an elite group of worker safety and health-minded Indiana businesses.”

The Seymour Engine Plant also was previously recognized with a Governor’s Workplace Safety Award in 2013.

Currently, there are 75 Indiana workplaces that have achieved the state’s voluntary protection program certification with 73 designated as STAR work sites, according to the department of labor.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.