AK Steel Coke Plant Garners Safety Award

For the third time in four years, AK Steel's Middletown coke plant\r\nhas earned a safety award from the American Coke and Coal Chemicals\r\nInstitute.

For the third time in four years, AK Steel''s Middletown coke plant has earned a safety award from the American Coke and Coal Chemicals Institute (ACCI).

Bob Weigel, Coke plant manager and Rick McGee, shift manager accepted the Max Eward Safety Award earlier this month during the institute''s spring meeting in South Carolina.

The award recognizes the ACCCI-member coke plant with the best safety record for the year, and is named for a former chairman of the institute''s manufacturing and safety committee.

"The employees of the AK Steel Middletown coke plant did not have a single OSHA recordable injury in 2000 -- a perfect record," said ACCCI Chairman Andrew Aloe. "That''s remarkable and has not been done, to my knowledge, in the history to this award. All of our coke plants strive to achieve this almost impossible accomplishment," he said.

The award has been presented for 13 years according to the ACCCI.

AK Steel''s Middletown coke plant first won the award for its 1997 safety performance.

During that year the plant had an OSHA recordable injury rate of 0.54, the result of a single incident caused by dirt in the eye of an employee.

The OSHA recordable injury rate is the number of medical treatment, lost time and restricted work injuries per 200,000 employee hours, or the equivalent of 100 employees working for one year.

In 1998, the plant again won the award, and again had a single injury resulting in a frequency of just 0.55, about 20 times better than the ACCCI coke plant average injury frequency for that year.

"We have said our ultimate goal in safety at AK Steel is to reach and maintain a level of zero injuries," said Richard M. Wardrop Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of AK Steel. "Bob Weigel and the men and women of the Middletown coke plant are proof that our goal is possible."

But for a single recordable injury, employees of AK Steel''s Ashland, Ky., coke plant would have also had a perfect safety record in 2000, according to the AK Steel.

Employees at the Kentucky plant logged an OSHA recordable injury frequency in 2000 of 0.26.

In addition to extensive training programs for all employees, the company safety program utilizes dozens of full-time hourly safety coordinators who sole job is to help facilitate safe operating procedures and conditions.

Also, each week the company''s department managers conduct an average of 10,000 safety observations.

Through the first quarter of 2001 AK Steel''s total OSHA recordable injury rate was 1.17, a reduction of 18 percent from the full-year 2000 rate of 1.43, which was about five times better than the industry average.

AK Steel produces flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steel products for automotive, appliance, construction and manufacturing markets, as well as standard pipe and tubular steel products.

AK Steel is headquartered in Middletown, Ohio. It employs about 11,200 men and women in plants and offices in Middletown, Coshocton, Mansfield, Warren and Zanesville, Ohio; Ashland, Ky.; Rockport, Ind.; and Butler, Sharon and Wheatland, Pa.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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