Impact // Culture

Keeping Safety in Focus: A Pledge to our No. 1 Value, SAFE

An article by Dominic DiCarlo, VP of Safety and Compliance

June 23, 2021

It’s been 13 years since a lost-time or Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable incident has occurred at the Lineage warehouse in Arlington, Tennessee. That’s nearly 5,000 consecutive days without an injury or work-stoppage issue — absolutely astounding. How does any warehouse achieve such a remarkable record? And more importantly, how can this success be scaled across our network?

As we continue to expand Lineage’s global presence, we’ve asked and answered those questions – creating a strategic road map for growth while keeping safety at the forefront. It’s a strategy that hinges on a shared mindset of openness to new ideas, requires trust and innovation, and drives all of our safety considerations.

Staying humble and always inquisitive.

When you’re the biggest player in the industry, it’s easy to become convinced you’re doing everything the right way. But keeping safety our top priority requires an open mind that is constantly looking for and learning about better practices. As we acquire new businesses and introduce new technologies into our warehouses, we recognize there’s always room to improve our safety protocols.

When acquiring a company, no matter the size, we do not go in and steamroll with a “Lineage process.” Instead, we analyze its processes to better understand its best practices, and, when beneficial, we implement those practices across our entire Lineage network, while educating our new Team Members about our safety culture.

A great example of this philosophy in practice centers around our acquisition of Preferred Freezer Services. When we spent time looking at its best practices, we saw that it had implemented a program called Summer of Safety. Its safety team noticed an annual, late-summer spike in on-property incidents. To improve awareness, its team took a full month during the summer to address one aspect of safety on a daily basis. We thought that was such a great way to keep safety at the forefront so we’ve folded the concept into our culture.

Safety practices only work when all Team Members practice them.

As seen at our Arlington facility, an ingrained culture of safety and trust is crucial to safety success. The tight-knit team, which has extremely low turnover, enjoys working with and looking out for each other. The entire Arlington team, from General Manager Christopher Confer to the newest hire, embraces the Lineage safety culture, and every Team Member knows he or she will receive support for any safety initiative or safety improvement idea.

But again, how do you scale this mindset? The answer: Think cross-functionally. At Lineage, a “cross-functional” approach to safety means making sure you have a buy-in mentality at all levels of the organization. From compliance to data science, and from engineering to our project management team, we make sure we work together and gain insight from all angles before implementation. This philosophy strengthens the relationships between our teams, provides flexibility to accommodate our many work environments, and encourages all departments to maintain and incorporate new standards.

Leveraging data to create the safest work environment.

As we grow, we’re focused on maintaining our excellent safety record. We’ve found that augmenting our practices with new technology helps us do just that. By leveraging technology and various digital platforms, we mine data from our processes to help us identify the next best opportunity to attack. Without the use of these tools, we can only scratch the surface of a perceived problem. The more data we have, the better we can identify root causes, then implement appropriate solutions to manage risk and create the safest and most compliant version of Lineage we can.

Studying the gathered data can lead to the creation of new Team Member safety measures and procedural changes networkwide as we continually strive to optimize all warehouse floor movements. Our goal with any safety study is to find ways to apply our learnings across our global network.

Delivering our culture of safety right to your home.

Ultimately, our continued growth and innovation won’t matter if we can’t keep our Lineage family safe. SAFE is central to Lineage; in fact, it is our No. 1 value. But we must make sure it’s more than just a word on a wall. As we grow, we are always looking for ways to strengthen and evolve our safety standards and practices. Our dedication and constant efforts to ensure the safety of all our Team Members is the same dedication and effort that we put behind safely delivering every meal to our neighbors and to families around the world.