By - September 1, 2017

Safety is in everything we do

Publix is where shopping is a pleasure, and for our associates, it’s a great place to work. Part of that commitment includes providing a safe environment for customers and associates. We sat down with a few safety experts and retail managers to learn how their efforts to improve safety at the stores are making a big difference.

The plus in preventing injuries

The team at #588, Miami, led by Store Manager Gina Astuto, has worked hard to reduce associate and customer incidents by more than 50 percent in the last year.

Q: What is your store doing to lower incidents so drastically?      

Gina: We care about each other, and we care about our customers. The last thing we want to see is someone in the Publix family get hurt. Leading a team means you need to make the expectations clear, and you need to follow up. We not only communicate the expectation to our team, we also educate them on the “why.” All of this is easy to execute when you make it part of your everyday routine.

Q: How does your store promote safety awareness?

Gina: My department managers have huddle meetings twice a day. They discuss things like service standards and safety, and use topics that have been communicated by corporate or talk about opportunities in their department. Assistant Store Manager Bashar Hatem encourages our safety team to walk their departments every day to ensure all opportunities are addressed. Although we make sure we correct unsafe behavior immediately, we recognize safe behavior as well. In fact, we celebrate it!

Q: What is your team doing to improve customer safety?

Gina: Frequently sweeping the store, replenishing spill response stations and having paper towels available are a few things that help us keep the sales floor safe for our customers. Being here in Florida, the rain is always a factor. So we make sure our rugs and umbrella bags are always ready.

“Gina and her team are a great example of the result of consistency and execution,” said Miami Division Safety Supervisor José Monte. “Gina’s personality, talent and leadership are key to the store’s safety success and associate involvement.”

The safety team at #588, Miami

The safety team at #588, Miami

Making food safety cool

Proper temperature holding and cleanliness are significant focus areas throughout the company. During the first half of 2017, Miami Division stores participated in the Never 8 food safety awareness campaign to increase associates’ awareness of maintaining proper temperatures.

Q: What is the Never 8 program?

Food Safety Specialist Robert Casey: Never 8 refers to the eight key items we wanted associates to focus on regarding proper temperatures: pies, cannoli and hot pastries in the bakery; hot-held items, sliced tomatoes and sub kits in the deli; and sprouts and cut melons in produce.

Q: What improvements were made as a result of the program?

Food Safety Specialist Fegor Pineda: Our managers and associates really got involved, and it helped improve our associates’ food safety behaviors. The entire division is much more conscientious about these eight areas for temperature control.

Q: Store #1246, Boynton Beach, Florida, really got behind the Never 8 program. What made it so successful?

Assistant Store Manager Derrick Henry: Our district manager and regional director lent their support early on and walked the departments, which helped reinforce our perspective on food safety. We continue to walk each department every morning, paying particular attention to the Never 8 items, and talk to associates about the importance of keeping food safe.

Q: How is the Never 8 program improving our food safety culture?

Fegor: It shows our commitment to our customers. We have to constantly talk about food safety and follow proper procedures so it becomes part of our daily routine. It’s the only way we’ll have success.

Q: What’s next for food safety?

Robert: Our associates are doing a great job focusing on temperature control. Using the same concept, we recently introduced the Dirty Dozen program with a focus on proper cleaning and sanitation. It’s all aimed at keeping our food safe and protecting our customers.

One focus of the Never 8 program was holding bakery pies at the proper temperature.

One focus of the Never 8 program was holding bakery pies at the proper temperature.