Louisiana-Pacific Corp. Builds Safety into Everything it Does

Occupational Hazards has to get in line to recognize Louisiana-Pacific Corp. for safety. The company has received more than 60 safety, environmental and industry awards, including having eight facilities named OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Star sites. Many of the company's 29 manufacturing locations have experienced hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hours worked without a recordable incident.

Safety this good doesn't happen by accident. Safety is an ongoing process and commitment for the company.

“At LP, safety is not our No. 1 priority. As a matter of fact, safety is not a priority at all,” says Keith Harned, corporate safety and health director for the company's 35 health and safety personnel and 5,600 employees. “We view safety as a core value. The difference is the approach. When safety is a priority, it competes with other priorities and can be shifted based on the current needs. When safety is a true core value, it is always there serving as a guide for our thoughts and actions.”

At Louisiana-Pacific — which manufactures building products such as oriented strand board, engineered wood products and moulding — a Safety and Health Vision and Principles support safety as a core value. The Safety and Health Vision states LP works to create an injury-free culture by controlling operating exposures through robust management systems and by holding everyone accountable for “flawless execution” of its safety principles.

Examples of management's dedication to an injury-free culture are many. In 2005, all LP plants were shut down for a half-day so employees could engage in safety-related activities. While Harned acknowledges the stand down cost the company money short-term, “the long-term benefit was that all employees remember this as one of the positive pivotal points in our journey to injury-free production. It was a true demonstration that we do care about the people who operate our facilities.” As LP's CEO Rick Frost says, “No one should have to get hurt working at LP.”

At Louisiana-Pacific, employees are given the tools they need to participate in safety. In addition to traditional safety training, which is integrated into the facility training plan, employees are taught to recognize and report potential hazards, including near misses. Employees also are encouraged to participate in evaluating methods to eliminate hazards.

Employees participate in other ways: Recently, a cross-sectional group of employees gathered in Nashville to consolidate company-wide safety equipment items. The team was represented by safety, supply, supervision and line employees from several plants. “The end result,” says Harned, “was an LP-specific safety product catalog that was developed by the users along with our key supplier. In addition to providing the correct safety equipment for our operations, this effort will save LP a great deal of money on an annual basis.”

The company utilizes a Safety Management System composed of 12 elements: leadership and commitment, planning, accountability, safety organization, training, metrics, incident reporting and investigation, site assessments, job safety procedures and occupational health, contractors and visitors, emergency preparedness and behavioral observations and contacts. There are five levels within each element, ranging from awareness building to continuously improving. Employees are involved in the process of evaluating the Safety Management System to provide input for improvement.

Participation doesn't stop with employees. All meetings at Louisiana-Pacific start with a brief safety message — including meetings of the board of directors. Senior management team meetings place a safety and health update on the agenda as its first order of business. Operations managers for each business participate in bi-monthly safety conference calls with plant managers and plant safety managers. Business-level safety celebrations, which are conducted at 250,000-hour increments, are attended by the vice president, the operations manager and corporate representatives from human resources and safety. These efforts are paying off, as evidenced by a total recordable rate that declined from 8.12 to 0.94 since 1996.

“LP's Corporate Vision Statement enshrines the message that LP will be an employer of choice because, above all, it is a safe place to work,” says Harned.

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