Worthington Industries Inc. on September 26 announced 2008 fiscal year results for its safety program, Safe Works, which include a double-digit decline in injuries and being named one of "America's Safest Companies" by leading safety trade magazine Occupational Hazards.

"This second consecutive year of double-digit percentage decreases in our number of injuries underscores our belief that the company-wide goal of zero injuries is attainable," said John P. McConnell, Worthington Industries chairman and CEO. "A safe workplace and workforce speaks to the heart of our philosophy – that employees are our most important asset. Fewer injuries also positively impact the bottom line, through lower workers' compensation costs and increased productivity and quality as a result of fewer disruptions to production."


For the fiscal year ended May 31, 2008, Worthington achieved the following results:

·        One-third reduction in serious injuries (OSHA Days Away, Restricted or Transferred [DART])

·        27 percent reduction in total injuries (OSHA recordable)

·        22 percent decrease in the number of workers' compensation claims

 

Compared to industry averages, Worthington's safety results continue to lead the manufacturing sector for steel processing, metal framing and pressure cylinder manufacturing:

·        78 percent lower DART rate compared to industry averages

·        66 percent lower average recordable injury rate compared to industry averages

 

Additionally, 22 percent of facilities completed the fiscal year with zero DART injuries, and eight facilities completed the fiscal year with zero DART and zero recordable injuries

 

One of America's Safest Companies
Safe Works' success and industry-leading injury prevention rates have been formally recognized by Occupational Hazards. Each year, the magazine selects "America's Safest Companies" which demonstrate leadership and results in the following areas:

·        Management support of safety processes

·        Employee involvement

·        Innovative solutions to safety challenges

·         Injury and illness rates below industry averages

·        Comprehensive educational employee programs on safety-related topics

·        Evidence that the prevention of fatalities, illnesses and injuries is the cornerstone of the safety process

·        Good employee communication about the value of safety

·        Methods to substantiate the benefits of the safety process

 

"The 2008 America's Safest Companies honorees represent not only outstanding achievement domestically, but prove that one of our most valuable exports is the knowledge and will to conduct safe operations globally," said Stephen Minter, publisher of Occupational Hazards. "If there were an Olympics held for safety, these companies would deserve gold medals."

 

Building Safe Works
Since 2001, Worthington Industries has placed an increasing emphasis on continuous improvement in safety practices to strengthen the company's safety culture and reduce injuries. In the six years since focusing on strengthening its safety program, Worthington has achieved significant positive results, including:

·        63 percent reduction in OSHA recordable injuries

·        67 percent decrease in OSHA DART injuries

·        64 percent reduction in number of workers' compensation claims that also resulted in several million dollars in workers' compensation cost savings

 

As the emphasis on safety gained momentum, Worthington formalized the program in 2006 and created "Safe Works," a centrally directed, locally managed initiative that involves each employee in the safety process.


"Most people believe safety is a top-down initiative, but we don't feel that way," said George Stoe, Worthington Industries executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Everybody has a responsibility for their safe workplace and our ongoing safety improvement process, and everybody should have a voice in how it works."


The Safe Works program provides standardization and sharing of company-wide best practices, while allowing facilities to address localized needs and concerns. The program is driven by the company's Golden Rule philosophy and is rooted in employee empowerment and communication.

 

Elements of Safe Works that heavily contribute to the program's success include:

- Voluntary safety councils made up of employees at all levels, who lead their facility's safety process. Council members assist in safety improvement action planning - setting priorities, resolving safety and health issues - and serve as overall role models to fellow workers. More than two-thirds of facilities have an active safety council.


- A voluntary behavior-based reinforcement program, Business Risk Improvement Techniques for Everyone (BRITE), which focuses on developing safe behaviors and preventing injuries through positive reinforcement. BRITE reinforces safety self-management and responsibility for peer safety. At the end of FY2008, 42 percent of facilities and 3,900 employees participate in BRITE.


- The personal protective equipment (PPE) trial program, where employees are directly involved in PPE testing and purchasing decisions. This program has reduced injuries, decreased equipment costs, streamlined the company's PPE products and vendors, decreased inventory, increased comfort and productivity, and even reduced the impact on the environment. From FY2006 to FY2008, Worthington achieved a 41 percent decrease in cut-related injuries due in part to the PPE program.


- Safe Works award program, which recognizes safety accomplishments at the facility, department and employee levels, and is managed by facility safety councils. In FY2008, 12 percent of facilities were awarded the highest honor for zero DART and zero recordables. Three of these facilities were recognized for the second consecutive year. Additionally, 16 percent of facilities received the second highest award for zero DART injuries.

 

"We are pleased with the results during the second year of Safe Works and are honored to be recognized as one of America's Safest Companies," said McConnell. "With the ongoing dedication of our employees and facility leaders, we expect to continue building a sustainable safety culture throughout our company, and serving as an industry leader with effective safety best practices." 

 

About Worthington Industries
Worthington Industries is a leading diversified metal processing company with annual sales of approximately $3 billion. The Columbus, Ohio-based company is North America's premier value-added steel processor and a leader in manufactured metal products such as metal framing, metal ceiling grid systems, pressure cylinders, automotive past model service stamping and laser welded blanks. Worthington Industries and its subsidiaries employ approximately 8,000 people and operate 68 facilities in 11 countries.

 

Founded in 1955, the company operates under a long-standing corporate philosophy rooted in the golden rule, with earning money for its shareholders as the first corporate goal. This philosophy, an unwavering commitment to the customer, and one of the strongest employee/employer partnerships in American industry serve as the company's foundation.