History of Workplace Learning System
and the EnPro Industries Safety Journey

Workplace Learning System (WLS) helps organizations to change their cultures for the better through a unique approach – positive workplace safety culture development. Our vision is to achieve injury freedom. That means the prevention and elimination of all injuries. This vision started while WLS was EnPro Learning System, a division of EnPro Industries for 6 years, until February 2020.

We know injury freedom is possible, and we know that the desire for injury freedom is common to all people, across industries, nations, languages and cultures.  Every year, most EnPro Industries facilities are injury free, even though they work in heavy manufacturing. EnPro Industries’ engineered products are used in critical applications across diverse markets. The product manufacturing poses significant potential risks to frontline colleagues. Each and every day, they operate sophisticated machinery, handle heavy and bulky materials, work with chemicals and deal with an ever-changing workplace. In this environment, safety awareness and practice is paramount.

Excellent safety performance success is a product of the EnPro Industries safety culture and the system for developing it, which was tested and implemented by frontline colleagues in EnPro global manufacturing operations. The EnPro safety system has led the corporation to be recognized three times in the past 12 years as one of America’s Safest Companies by EHS Today, most recently in 2016.

As more organizations heard about EnPro's reputation for safety and quality, and how it impacts what we call the “Dual Bottom Line,” they began to ask EnPro EHS professionals to teach them how to achieve the same success. In 2012, EnPro Industries launched EnPro Learning System (ELS) with its first SafetySummit, where leaders from other organizations could come to an event to learn about our safety system and experience our safety culture at an EnPro facility. ELS was formally incorporated in 2014 and grew its service offerings to hold two annual SafetySummit events, conducts more than 10 in-person workshops, and provides on-site gap analysis and training for clients.

EnPro Industries’ EHS professionals facilitate a safety system that not only works in many different countries and cultures, but also can be reliably deployed in businesses the company acquires. Over the past 10 years, EnPro has acquired over 35 businesses. They come to EnPro with a wide range of safety performance and cultural development challenges. To be effective in these situations, the safety culture system must be easy to repeat and execute. The proof of this is in the fact that these facilities have reduced OSHA recordable injury rates by an average of 75% within two years of EnPro Industries ownership, and their levels of engagement in safety, quality and productivity have improved vastly.

When EnPro Industries acquires a company, it does not make immediate changes. EnPro begins with a safety assessment and leadership development. Early in the journey to safety excellence, EnPro recognized that a safety system built solely on compliance with policies and procedures could never fully protect the workforce. While policies and procedures are a necessary and essential component of the safety system, the complexity of EnPro operations requires each and every employee to develop a personal ethical commitment to working safely. This is a commitment that goes above and beyond compliance with rules, and fundamentally changes the way they approach their daily lives.

The Approach:

ELS Safety Culture ApproachOver the past 10 years, EnPro Industries discovered that establishing each employee’s individual, personal safety ethic is essential to creating a positive workplace safety culture – and an area of development typically overlooked by organizations today. The approach relies on four different and unique perspectives (shown in the image) which creates a full understanding of what is necessary to build a sustainable safety culture. Personal development, described in the upper left quadrant, is the area primarily avoided in business today because it requires interaction of a personal nature. The standard focus of most organizations is on influencing behaviors and habits that affect the way people work, described in the bottom right quadrant. A traditional EHS program implements EHS policies, procedures, and programs. Many companies also try to develop group culture-building programs and establish organizational values represented in the bottom left quadrant. Without a strong focus on the internal feelings and values of every individual, the culture and system is not complete and a zero injury workplace is likely out of reach. Through SafetyMyVoice, a tool ELS created, EnPro colleagues actively devote time to developing an internal safety belief in each employee, from the frontline worker to the top level executive. By sharing personal stories and experiences, colleagues create the foundation for our behavior-based safety (BBS) program and our culture of caring.

People Will Help Support That Which They Help to Create:

The keys to the success of an organization’s workplace safety culture – both within EnPro Industries and other clients with which Workplace Learning System has partnered – are the engagement of the entire organization and the integration of all four quadrants in the model.

When every employee has a say, not only in what the system looks like, but also in the development and strategy of the individual components of the system, then safety becomes a personal endeavor. Each organization needs to create a safety culture unique to itself. When Workplace Learning System works with an organization, it guides the client through the creation of its own unique safety culture. A major component of our safety system is establishing high performing SafetyActionTeams. Unlike a traditional EHS safety committee, these action teams allow employees to get involved and have an immediate impact on their workplace, building upon existing cultures and systems by using and/or improving documents, tools, and communication. This system also creates practically limitless opportunities for personal development for those involved in the teams.

A workplace safety culture of injury freedom must rely on people making the right (“safe”) decisions 100% of the time. Personal behaviors play a role in almost every incident. At times, leaders may encourage unsafe behavior by stressing production over safety, or perhaps by simply failing to discuss safety hazards with those with whom they work.  At other times, a colleague may decide to take a short cut, even when the individual knows there is a safer way to perform the task. Decisions such as these can have a significant impact on an organization’s safety culture.

SafetyFirst®, our behavior-based safety (BBS) program, goes beyond general awareness of behaviors that cause unsafe situations. EnPro Learning System developed it 10 years ago to address a fundamental flaw in most off-the-shelf BBS programs – turning observations into actions. EnPro Learning System released SafetyFirst to outside organizations three years ago, and this year a revised and improved version of SafetyFirst: Habits of Excellence made its debut.    SafetyFirst  educates every employee on the organization’s current safety challenges and implements a focused, customizable series of triggers to influence the employees’ daily habits. While   SafetyFirst  is designed to encourage excellent behaviors and habits, it does so while promoting the character and values of leadership needed to sustain safety excellence.   SafetyFirst  plays an important role in defining safety excellence as a habit of action that shapes safety leadership and safety culture.

Workplace Learning System - Custom Safety Engagements:

EnPro Industries formed EnPro Learning System with the intent of allowing organizations to learn from its colleagues. But now our team of EHS professionals and safety consultants provides a wide breadth of services at our clients’ locations through Workplace Learning System. We can assist with the implementation of our entire safety system within an organization, focus on specific elements of the system, and efficiently move an organization forward on the journey to injury freedom. Workplace Learning System can customize applications for your business, whatever the safety challenge or state of organizational development. We provide on-site training and services, including SafetyGap Analysis, Safety360 Leadership Development, SafetyCare Management, SafetyFirst  behavior-based safety, and Safety Action Teams as well as a “mini” version of our popular SafetySummit. 

The Workplace Learning System safety approach depends on a core belief that all injuries can be prevented. That may seem like an impossible goal, but more than 65 EnPro Industries locations in 12 countries maintain this performance year over year. It is achieved through dedicated effort at all levels of the organization. The Workplace Learning System approach empowers and educates all members of our organization. Our colleagues affect true change in their working environments. They refuse to accept that traditional processes cannot be done safely and have worked tirelessly to build a system that works. Together, we can Make the World a Safer Workplace.