Originally published in the December 2014 issue of MA Insider, a publication by the Manufacturers Alliance.

If you could spend one dollar and get six dollars in return, would you do it? The people at MGK not only believe every dollar spent in support of the environment and the safety of its people yields such a return, they’ve done the analysis.

When you tour the plant it becomes obvious that their dedication is real. Safety at MGK comprehends not only the employees but customers, the environment, and any person, animal, place or thing that comes in contact with MGK’s products.

MGK began as McLaughlin Gormley King in 1902. They “develop and offer insect control solutions for advanced pest control that minimize environmental impact while meeting control requirements.” In simple terms, they develop and sell stuff that kills bugs. Of course it isn’t really all that simple. The company takes great care to avoid unintended consequences from the use of their products. Their mission is to make life healthier by creating responsible products that protect people and their environments from the impact of insects. Restaurants and other food handling companies need to control pests without harming the people they ultimately serve. Families want to control insects in their home and on their pets without harming people or animals. The industries and markets in which MGK participates and products sold are, for obvious reasons, highly regulated. MGK has a very well developed, disciplined and intentional approach to making sure they meet or exceed not only the letter but the spirit of those regulations. That same mindset extends to the environmental and safety practices within the plant. This mindset is evident as you tour the factory in different ways, from seemingly small things to significant infrastructure features.

When I arrived at the plant, the receptionist gently suggested that if I was going to tour the plant I would need to turn off my cell phone (spark hazard) and wear a hard hat. The first stop on the tour is the laboratory. Everything that passes into or out of the plant is sampled analyzed in the lab. Regulations require that any component in MGK’s product that exceeds 0.1% of the total contents be listed on the label. The lab is the first and last line of defense against foreign compounds. As our readers know however, inspection is not the best way to ensure compliance. The next stop on the tour is the main Communication Board. One of the prominent measures is formulation accuracy. Production gets it right the first time 99.8% of the time. Beyond formulation accuracy, the measures posted on the Communication Board make it clear how important safety and the environment are to the company. The company tracks incidents and near misses. Each event is investigated and where necessary a corrective action plan is implemented. Interestingly, the company neither rewards nor punishes for safety successes and issues. It is simply part of the culture. Safety programs are littered with stories of rewards and punishments causing the wrong behaviors; MGK would rather avoid any unintended consequences. Another prominent measure is the final disposition of all the plant’s waste streams. Chemical industries must watch waste streams very carefully and MGK is no exception. The plant sends out 97% of its waste streams for recycling or beneficial reuse with 60% sent for Fuels Blending. Around the 1990’s, MGK committed to building a new facility. This afforded them the opportunity to improve safety, drastically reduce emissions and waste generation per pound of product.

The importance of safety and the environment are evident in many ways beyond the measures presented on the communication boards throughout the plant. Safety is integral to continuous improvement efforts like Kaizen events and the frequent, scheduled and structured Gemba walks. Eighty percent of the employees have received forty hour emergency response training with annual refresher courses. There are frequent drills designed to keep readiness at a high level. Emergency responders each have a large, well organized locker for their equipment. There is a comprehensive spill containment program in place. Prevention is the best way to avoid a spill and, as an example, the plant uses special drum handling systems designed to avoid punctures. At the other end of the spectrum, the plant has a large, multi-level spill containment system that is large enough to contain and segregate the loss of any of their large vessels. The production areas are designed to avoid accidents and minimize the impact should they occur. Even the eyewash stations trigger a centralized alarm if they are used.

Needless to say, this article only touches on a few of the highlights. The culture of the company clearly embraces the importance of safety and environmental protection. The plant is amazingly clean (I doubt they’d allow it, but it looks like you could eat off the floor) and well organized. After touring the plant, it’s pretty clear that a six dollar return is realistic. From the low employee turnover (not unusual for employees to retire with over 35 years of service) to the obviously efficient operations, the investment is well worth it. The overall effect is inspiring.