HJI Supply Chain Solutions, located in Louisville, Kentucky, has provided logistics services to leading corporations for nearly three decades. Cofounded by Alice and Wade Houston, HJI employs 375 people in an industry that can involve high-risk work situations, which is why HJI keeps workplace safety at the forefront of daily operations.

According to VP, People Operations Rahima Avdic, safety is an ongoing process, and it requires commitment at all levels of the organization. Mr. Avdic explains why, “We regularly assess our safety program’s effectiveness and make adjustments as necessary to continuously improve our warehouse’s safety record.”

What role does safety play in your organization’s culture?

At HJI Supply Chain Solutions, our core commitment is prioritizing safety above all else. We firmly believe that ensuring the safety and well-being of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners, is the foundation upon which our success as a company is built.

Our unwavering dedication to safety serves as the cornerstone of our culture and operations, thereby fostering an environment in which everyone can thrive and feel secure. By putting people first, we not only protect lives but also safeguard the future of our organization to ensure we can continue delivering exceptional products and services to our valued customers while upholding the highest standards of integrity and responsibility.

What are some of the workplace safety concerns unique to your industry?

Warehouse operations often involve the use of heavy machinery, forklifts, pallet jacks, etc. Safety risks arise from improper use, operator error, lack of training, and equipment maintenance issues.

Warehouses frequently have high racks and tight aisles, so it is critical that we have proper guardrails, fall protection systems, and employee training in place.

Employees may be required to stack and pack items, which can lead to injuries from improper lifting techniques, repetitive motion, and awkward postures. Training in ergonomic practices can help mitigate these risks.

Forklift accidents are always a concern. This includes collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles and damage to inventory. Strict training and safety protocols for forklift operators are crucial.

Warehouses can have slippery floors due to spills, debris, or condensation. We make every effort to mitigate slips, trips, and falls with adequate housekeeping, nonslip flooring, and employee training to reduce the occurrence of these hazards.

Lifting and carrying heavy items manually can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Proper training and the use of equipment, like dollies and hand trucks, can help reduce risk.

What practices have you added to your program that have helped improve your safety record?

Improving safety at HJI is paramount for the well-being of employees and the overall efficiency of operations. Most of the following practices and strategies have already been added to our facilities to enhance our safety program and record, while several are under consideration:

  • Comprehensive and ongoing safety training for all employees, including new hires and temporary workers.
  • Safety leadership for fostering a culture of safety by appointing assistant general managers to safety managers who can champion safety initiatives and serve as role models for others.
  • Safety meetings that include representatives from different departments to discuss and address safety concerns regularly.
  • Regular equipment maintenance checklist to reduce the risk of accidents caused by equipment failure.
  • Proper guidelines and procedures for the safe handling, stacking, and storage of materials to prevent falls, collapses, and injuries.
  • Clear traffic lanes and pedestrian walkways for traffic management and enforceable rules for the safe movement of equipment and pedestrians within all warehouses.
  • Housekeeping to maintain a clean and organized warehouse environment to reduce tripping hazards and the risk of fires or accidents caused by clutter.
  • Routine safety inspections and audits to identify potential issues and ensure compliance with safety protocols.
  • Incident reporting and investigation system for reporting and thoroughly investigating accidents or near-miss incidents to identify root causes and prevent future occurrences.

What impacts or benefits have you seen resulting from a strong safety program?

Some of the key impacts and benefits we have accomplished for both employees and the organization as a whole are:

  • Reduced workplace accidents and injuries.
  • Increased employee morale.
  • Lower workers’ compensation costs.
  • Increased efficiency.
  • Reduced downtime.
  • Cost savings.
  • Improved employee engagement.
  • Environmental benefits.
  • Customer trust.

How has KEMI assisted in enhancing workplace safety and reducing claims?

KEMI has been fully engaged with us and has provided excellent communication, data analysis, guidance, and training.

What notable safety milestones or recognition has your organization achieved during the past several years?

Our achievements include safety culture excellence, reduced recordable incidents/accidents, safety benchmarking, and continuous improvement, which are all symbolized by earning our first KEMI Destiny Award in 2023.

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