A.O. Smith Florence, Ky., plant wins company safety award for the third time

A. O. Smith Corporation today presented the employees of the Protective Coatings Division in Florence, Ky., with the Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award for 2014.

The award, named after a former chief executive officer of the Milwaukee-based company, is given annually to the A. O. Smith facility that achieves the best overall performance in workplace safety. A total of 18 manufacturing plants worldwide were evaluated based on statistical measures as well as evidence of having a comprehensive, sustainable workplace safety program.

This is the third time the Florence plant has received the award, making it one of two existing company plants to have earned the recognition on three separate occasions. Florence received the President’s Safety Award in 1997 and 2011.

“You have reached “three-peat” status faster than any other plant in the history of this award competition,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ajita G. Rajendra observed during the award presentation. “To me, this is evidence of your commitment to working safely at all times and your commitment to each other.”

“You have embraced the culture of safety that has been created in Florence and participate actively and enthusiastically in the plant’s safety initiatives,” he continued.

“We see safe practices driven by a sense of high awareness and high participation,” according to Glenn Pfendt, plant manager of the Florence facility.

To earn the Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award, each company facility is evaluated based on three statistical categories:

  • Lost workday case incidence rate—This measure relates to the most serious, work-related injuries or illnesses that result in one or more lost work days;
  • Recordable case incidence rate—Recordable incidents are significant, work-related injuries or illnesses beyond first aid as defined by the U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Lost workday incidence rate—This category measures a facility's total number of lost work days and provides a measure of accident severity.

The Florence plant achieved a perfect record in 2014 with no lost-time accidents or recordable accidents during the year. The 40-person operation has worked six years—more than 500,000 hours—without a lost-time accident.

The plant also was recognized for its comprehensive safety program and the level of employee participation in those programs.

The plant, which designs, manufactures, and services protective coatings and specialty glasses for water heaters linings and other appliance applications, has employed a number of programs to promote safe work habits in its 50,000 square foot operations.

It has used the Safety Training Observation Program (STOP) for more than 25 years, with nearly 100 percent participation on the part of employees.  Under STOP, employees are encouraged to observe and record examples of good workplace safety performance on the shop floor as well as potential hazards or practices that need correcting. Last year, employees submitted a total of 829 STOP cards with their observations.

Florence also has integrated safety into its formal Continuous Improvement initiative in the facility. Employees are encouraged to submit “one-minute Continuous Improvement stories” that focus on equipment or processes that can be improved either from a productivity or safety standpoint.  In 2014, the plant completed a total of 24 Continuous Improvement projects in the plant related to workplace safety.

In presenting the award to employees, Rajendra observed, “Workplace Safety is one of our core values at A. O. Smith Corporation. We call it a “value” because values are constant—unlike priorities, they never change. It’s right up there with taking care of the customer and treating each other with respect and dignity. For more than 140 years, our Values have helped make A. O. Smith what it is today, a great place to work.”

The Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award is the A. O. Smith Corporation’s highest honor in the field of workplace safety and the company’s longest-running employee recognition program. It is named after the late Lloyd B. Smith, a former chairman and chief executive officer of A. O. Smith Corporation and the great-grandson of the founder of the company.

Smith was a strong believer in the importance of workplace safety and, in 1954, created the award program to recognize the contributions each employee makes to help keep the company’s facilities safe. At that time, A. O. Smith's accident rate was at its lowest in history, however, Smith wanted to make safety even more visible and more important to all employees. 

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