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"Warm Start" Kits Reduced Accidents and Lowered Costs

How RefrigiWear Helped a Food Distributor Protect Their New Employees

The Customer

This RefrigiWear customer is one of the largest and most respected national distributors of fresh, natural, organic and specialty foods. They have 15 distribution centers across North America. Employees wear HiVis Lime protective gear to keep them warm and visible while working. Employees use forklifts and pallet jacks to pick and pull in a -20°F freezer and 10°F cooler. 

The Problem

The company was noticing issues related to their new hires, specifically related to how hard it was for those transitioning into cold working conditions. Accidents were highest during their first 90 days of employment. In addition, the company was having problems retaining new hires past the first 30-60-90 days, resulting in high turnover. These issues resulted in higher equipment costs because the company had to buy new gear for employees who didn’t make it past the first 90 days. Another problem was having to constantly hire and train new employees, which impacted production.

A few things became obvious as RefrigiWear helped review the issues our customer was experiencing:

1)     New hires needed some additional safety measures to keep them better protected while training

2)     New hires needed some additional support during training to get more comfortable on the job and in the environment

3)     High turnover and continually buying new hires their own personal gear only to have them leave shortly after was driving up costs and hurting the bottom line, so costs needed to be kept down

“With new employees being provided the proper PPE needed for the environment, getting more support from colleagues, and their warmth and comfort levels being maintained, we’ve noticed improved productivity. New employees began picking up tasks with more speed and becoming productive in less time than previously. They are more comfortable and are able to take their time to get it right vs. being in a rush to get out and warm up.”

– Company Safety Manager 

RefrigiWear's Solution

The customer needed a program that would give new hires a better chance to succeed in cold environments while keeping them safe, both of which would help improve performance and employee retention. Lower turnover would also reduce the cost of having to outfit new employees frequently. RefrigiWear proposed a “Warm Start Kit” for new hires. These kits had the same safety gear the rest of the employees were wearing, but in HiVis Orange instead of HiVis Lime. This allowed new employees to stay in high-visibility gear, but the HiVis Orange differentiated them as new employees still learning the ropes. It created a visual cue for other employees that the person wearing it might need some additional assistance.

Each of the 15 locations bought several Warm Start Kits in each size to be used by new hires during their first 90 days. These kits are reusable. Once the employee completes training, the Warm Start Kit is turned in and personal HiVis Lime gear worn by more tenured employees is ordered. 

The Results

The visual cue of orange helped both coworkers and supervisors easily identify someone as a new hire. This made it easier to adjust working habits around them, which reduced recordable accidents for new hires. A safer work environment for everyone led to increased productivity.

Making new hires easily recognizable also made current staff willing to take an extra moment or two to help the trainee. This made new hires feel more supported and more comfortable in the new environment, which led to reduced turnover.

New hire spending also decreased, because the Warm Start Kits were used during training and new gear was only purchased if they made it through the probationary period and were switched to HiVis Lime.