PaperWorks Mill Achieves New Safety Record
Since the company started in 2008, creating a safer workplace has been a key goal at PaperWorks. The company recently announced its Wabash, Ind. mill has reached a significant milestone in its pursuit of safety in the workplace: more than 400 days without a recordable incident. Not only is this a record for the new company, but also for the plant’s entire century-plus history.
“I am extremely proud of the progress that the team at Wabash has made over the past two years. The plant has improved in nearly every metric including housekeeping, safer work practices, cooperative labor/management relationships, productivity, workers’ comp costs and employee morale. To exceed over a full year without a recordable incident is a remarkable achievement, especially considering the historical performance of the site,” said CEO Tom Garland.
This is a testament to the hard work and attention of the PaperWorks Paperboard Group, and validation of the company’s proprietary SafetyWorks program, a comprehensive multi-level initiative developed in-house to improve safety across its mills. Incorporating promotional, motivational and educational tools, SafetyWorks empowers workers to ensure that they are working in a safe environment, and also to watch out for their colleagues.
Safety Coordinator/Continuous Improvement Manager Chris Wetherford said the collaborative process incorporated existing resources and a drive to succeed. “With the help of our employees, we took a look at what worked with our program, what didn't work and what we could be doing better. It was clear we had the structural tools in place to be safe, but lacked the cultural attitude to successfully implement,” he said. “Our subsequent success is the result of a sincere cultural dedication to being safe: not just doing it because we have to, but because we want to.”
Wetherford and others drew on past incidents to build a better policy. “Poor practices showed us where we needed to build for a safer future,” he said. “The key was not to consider safety as a separate element, but as part of our daily process: making safe practices as unconscious and commonplace as fastening a seatbelt. Where we’ve succeeded, we don’t think of safety as a distinct different process, but just a common step in every task we perform.”