Excellence in Safety: Tempur Sealy

In October, SVAM honored six Southwest Virginia manufacturers with awards for their outstanding companies. Through this blog series, we would like to highlight the achievements of these manufacturers.


Charles Johnson, EHS Manager

Tempur Sealy in Duffield, VA was awarded our Excellence in Safety award. To learn more about the company and the impact of the award, we interviewed Charles Johnson, EHS Manager at Tempur Sealy.


Tell us about your company.

Tempur was originally based on NASA’s research to develop a material that would cushion aircraft seats and improve survivability in the event of an accident.
The first Tempur-Pedic mattress was introduced by DanFoam, a Swedish technical foam firm. The brand was brought to the United States in 1992 and the company Tempur-Pedic, Inc. was founded. The plant in Duffield started manufacturing in 2001.

Tell us about the program(s) you have implemented that led you to win this award.

We do industrial hygiene monitoring annually in areas where Isocyanates (a family of highly reactive, low molecular weight chemicals) are present. We have updated our Slabstock line and pillow mold carousels to more of an enclosure to increase the ventilation flow. Safe chemical handling has been improved by adding safety interlocks to all delivery systems including pumps & valves. All control systems are now hooked into a safety PLC & safety relays if needed. Other improvements include closing in slab molding tunnel with metal & sheetrock to contain off gases. Carbon filtration system speed has been increased to extract more off gases. Also filtration system was interlocked to machine so it cannot be ran while the system is off.
A complete Hybrid assembly line was engineered to handle mattress tubes, coil springs & stacking of complete mattress. This includes unrolling of springs in a safe enclosed machine. Also machinery was put in place to deliver springs to the tub without operators having to handle the weight of springs. All spray equip are hanging from a tool balance device to reduce handling of heavy hoses & spray equipment.

We also put systems in place for safe removal of scrap trimming from the saws at the laminators. The systems include multiple conveyors to let the scrap fall then be transferred to the overhead conveyors that will auto feed the foam baler. These conveyors have eliminated need for operators to handle scrap foam trimmings.

img_0503We have a very solid forklift program from training down to engineer controls we have put into place. When training a new forklift operator we go by the OSHA standard that includes class room training with a written test. The most important part of the training is the on hands or the driving part. We require the employee to operate the forklift 4 hours a day for 30 days with an experience driver nearby training them. This is completed prior to when their performance is evaluated. We have put in engineering controls in place or on our Powered Industrial Equipment; we installed a shock watch/total trax system on our forklifts. This system allows us to control who can or cannot operate our forklifts. This system also monitors the driver’s performance and if he or she comes into contact with anything and generates a Gforce higher than the set amount the shock watch system will shut down the forklift operations, and this will require the supervisor to reset the forklift and complete an investigation on the incident.

In January 2012, we added certification to the OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety standard. The Health & Safety standard requirements have been incorporated into our existing Quality and Environmental Management Systems. By using this successful foundation of management system control, we now have a true Quality, Environmental, Health, and Safety (QEHS) Management System that will benefit our customers, neighbors, and employees. The commitment and effort to maintain the health and safety at our facility is evident from the 3rd party audit results of “zero” audit findings for the past two years for our OHSAS 18001:2007. Certification to the new ISO 45001:2018 standard is planned for March 2019. We also have enhanced our near miss/safety suggestion program to get the employees more involved in reporting and as well as help come up with the corrective action. We continue to have monthly all hands meetings to communicate any near misses or incidents that are reported during the month

img_2264We have implemented a strong wellness program which includes a stretching program along with having a physical therapist onsite to help with work related and non-work related strains and pains. The MedFit Early Intervention Program (EIP) is designed to recognize and start early treatment prior to an injury occurrence. Employees with aches, pains and concerns come to our specialist and are assessed according to their complaints. The specialist will then determine a Medical Exercise Training program to start with the employee if an outside referral is not needed. The employee will come for 30-minute sessions one to two times per week determined by the specialist. We will then look at the type of complaint and perform an ergonomic assessment on the employees’ workstation to see if there are modifications that are needed to help address the employee’s complaints. Our goal is to give the employee a healthy quality life inside the Tempur work field as well as when the employees are off duty.

How do you feel your company was set apart from other companies who might apply for this award?

Tempur has been rebuilding the safety culture over the previous years; the Tempur safety culture is the attitude, beliefs, perception and values that the employees share in relation to safety in our workplace. Tempur’s senior management commitment to safety, realistic practices for handling hazards, continuous organizational learning, and care and concern for hazards shared across the workforce. Employee involvement is not the goal nor is it a tool, we believe it is a management and leadership philosophy about how people are most enabled to contribute to continuous improvement and the ongoing success of our work organization.

Where do you see the future of your company in regard to Excellence in Safety?

The improvements Tempur has made of the past few years has made us a company with a world class safety score. Tempur has improved dramatically over the last 4 years due to employee involvement, upper management buy in, effective accident investigations, and no fault safety attitude. The national Recordable Case Rate for mattress manufacturing is 4.2 and Tempur’s 12 month average is .40 and we set an all-time high of working 362 days without a recordable incident.
What has winning this award meant to your company? Have there been internal or community impacts of winning the award?

By winning this award it has proven to the company that the time, man power and money that company invested to improve the Safety Program was a great success. Our employees along with Tempur do a great job to ensure that safety is one of the top priorities of every work day and winning this award validates all their hard work.

tempur building

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