Good Catches: The Cornerstone of Lawton’s Remarkable Safety Culture

By C.A. Lawton | April 26, 2019
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Do you want to change the future for the better? Then you need to improve your practices today. That’s the foundational principle behind Lawton’s “Good Catches” workplace safety program.

Lawton COO, Barry Adamski, compares it to personal dieting: “My body is the total of all of the food I’ve put into it. If I don’t like my weight, then I need to do some things differently to change my future weight.”

Your current weight, he explains, is a lagging indicator – a number that tells you where you are now and, by implication, how you got there (bad eating habits). Good Catches help Lawton employees and management to focus on leading indicators – the critical activities that enable the company to provide a safer work environment in the future.

“A Good Catch is something that a team member sees and fixes or gets fixed. They get credit for it and we record it. Good Catches are often simple things like winding up an extension cord rather than letting it stay across an aisle, where it could become a trip hazard,” he points out.

“We celebrate Good Catches because it helps reinforce that we’re serious about worker safety. It’s a deeply embedded part of our culture,” he adds.

Lawton’s intense focus on worker safety begins their first day on the job. “I meet each Monday morning with our new hires and explain our philosophy of Good Catches, plus the meanings of lagging and leading indicators,” Adamski recalls. “I also tell them if they’re not comfortable with being vigilant and alerting someone when they see a potential safety hazard, then they shouldn’t be here,” he adds. Each Lawton employee is encouraged to report at least one Good Catch per quarter.

Adamski emphasizes that new hires have a unique advantage: They can look at their work environment with fresh eyes. They can see potential hazards that other workers may have become conditioned to overlook or ignore.

Once a new hire is fully trained, safety becomes an ongoing and critically important part of their daily work:

  • Each pre-production meeting begins with a discussion of safety.
  • Companywide meetings begin with a discussion of safety, Good Catches and prevention of lost-time accidents
  • Good Catches are shared companywide via daily meeting boards in each department, so other employees can look for and fix similar potential hazards in their work areas
  • A physical therapist visits Lawton each year to train workers on how to properly lift and move without injury.
  • Foundry workers who operate equipment regularly receive lockout/tag out training to maintain their certifications.

Not surprisingly, Lawton’s focus on Good Catches dovetails perfectly with its deep commitment to continuous improvement. Good Catches are a metric that the company tracks closely. It uses this data to encourage its employees to aim even higher in the future.

“We set an original goal of 100 Good Catches for 2018,” Adamski recalls. “We blew past that target early and recalibrated to 300. At the end of 2018, we achieved a total of 390 Good Catches. So we celebrated by catering a BBQ lunch for all Lawton team members. We also provided them with free coffee for a month.”

The bottom line isn’t the numbers, however. It’s the remarkable people who work for Lawton.

“Ultimately, they’re like a family to us. We want them to be able to go home safely to their loved ones each day. That’s why we take workplace safety so seriously. With the Good Catches program, we believe we’re reinforcing the behaviors that help to create the safest possible workplace,” Adamski concludes.