Pa.: Seven Companies Receive Governor's Award for Safety Excellence

Seven Pennsylvania businesses and organizations are being recognized for their commitment to keeping their workers safe.

The seven companies are this year's recipients of the Governor's Award for Safety Excellence, which is presented annually to Pennsylvania workers and companies that incorporate outstanding workplace safety initiatives and programs. The award honors companies for their commitment to creating safe work environments.

"These seven companies have demonstrated a strong commitment to workplace safety and exemplify what all Pennsylvania businesses across the commonwealth should strive to achieve fewer accidents and injuries," Gov. Edward Rendell said.

The Governor's Award for Safety Excellence recipients are:

  • L.B. Foster Co. and Iron Workers Local 527, Bedford (Bedford County). L.B. Foster, which fabricates steel bridge decking, decreased its total incident rate from 34.1 percent in 2001 to 3.9 percent thanks to new safety programs. In 2003, the company established a certified Workplace Safety Committee and now all employees receive training in hazard communication, forklift, overhead crane and mobile crane operation.
  • GKN Sinter Metals, Emporium, (Cameron County), which manufactures powdered metal components. The company's 770 employees have not had a lost-time accident since December 2001. Its certified Workplace Safety Committee and Lean Enterprise Task Force review specific operations and identify production and safety issues.
  • Nolan Painting Inc., Havertown (Delaware County). Since 1997, the number of employees has increased by 300 percent and business volume has tripled. Still, employee safety remains at the forefront. A certified Workplace Safety Committee meets monthly and new employees must attend two-week safety training sessions. The company publishes a monthly newsletter, "Safety Talk," to communicate issues to its employees. Additionally, mandatory safety meetings are held monthly. Nolan Painting's incident rate is zero for the past 3 years.
  • Wenger's Feed Mill Inc., Rheems (Lancaster County), which manufactures poultry and swine feed and is an egg producer. Wenger's initiated a health and safety program more than 24 years ago and established a certified Workplace Safety Committee in 1996 made up of management and labor representatives. Since 2001, Wenger's reduced total injuries by 20 percent and lost-time injuries by 60 percent. The recordable incident rate per 100 employees declined from 7.7 to 6.8 in an industry in which the standard is 9.7 percent. During this same period, the company's lost-time incident rate per 100 employees declined from 5.6 to 2.6 percent and its workers' compensation costs decreased from approximately $200,000 per year to $7,000 (in 2004).
  • Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network (LVHHN), Allentown, (Lehigh County), which provides patient care in one of the largest teaching facilities in Pennsylvania. Since 2004, the hospital reduced its rate of needlestick injuries by 20 percent, or 6 percent lower than the national rate, and reduced its OSHA recordable injuries and illnesses by 17 percent. It also achieved a 600 percent increase in documented incident investigations and a 5 percent reduction in lost workday cases. LVHHN was named one of Pennsylvania's 100 Best Places to Work, and has been included in U.S. News and World Report's "Guide to America's Best Hospitals" 9 years in a row.
  • McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, Fort Washington, (Montgomery County), a division of Johnson & Johnson. McNeil manufactures pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications, including Tylenol and other pain and cold medications. The Washington facility uses 540 different chemicals and components to produce 165 different products. The facility has 2,500 employees operating around-the-clock and has reported zero lost workdays since 2002.
  • BAE Systems and United Steelworkers of America Local 7687, York, (York County). BAE Systems, which designs and manufactures tracked military systems, has completed 3 million hours without a lost-workday injury at its York facility. Over the past 3 years, BAE recorded a 33 percent reduction in its recordable injury rate, a 40 percent reduction in lost-workday case rate and a 23 percent reduction in total injuries.

Pennyslvania Labor & Industry Secretary Stephen Schmerin presented the awards Oct. 12 during the annual 2-day Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference in Hershey.

The health and safety conference draws more than 1,000 safety and health care professionals, business leaders, workers, educators and government leaders from across Pennsylvania. The conference provides a forum for leaders in the health and safety field to discuss the importance of workplace safety and exchange knowledge of safe working practices for Pennsylvania employers and employees.

"We are dedicated to keeping employees safe at work and making sure companies thrive in the commonwealth," Schmerin said. "This program fosters both these goals by bringing safety to the forefront and saving companies millions of dollars."

Pennsylvania Businesses Have Cut Workers' Comp Costs by $200 Million

Rendell noted that Pennsylvania businesses committed to workplace safety have saved more than $200 million in workers' compensation premiums since 1996, nearly 45 percent of that since 2003.

"Pennsylvania companies are not only reducing workplace injuries, they are saving hundreds of millions of dollars by focusing on safety," Rendell said. "As a result, fewer accidents translate directly into improvements in productivity and further reductions in workers' compensation costs."

Schmerin said a big reason for that reduction in workers' compensation costs is that companies have been establishing certified Workplace Safety Committees. As part of the program, employers who establish a state-certified Workplace Safety Committee of workers and managers that meets at least monthly save 5 percent on their workers' compensation insurance premiums.

Currently, more than 6,400 companies and 875,000 employees are participating in the program, according to the governor's office. A total of $89 million in savings has occurred since 2003.

"Employers who have a certified Workplace Safety Committee routinely report increased safety awareness among employees, and fewer accidents on the job," Schmerin said.

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