Management at Worthington Industries, a Columbus, Ohio-based steel processing company, recognizes that employees are most productive when they are working safely and in good health.
“We take great pride in our safety culture,” says David Leff, corporate manager of environmental health, safety and security. “We have commitment from management to the newest hourly employees. By having that commitment across the board, we're able to improve our performance and results, and keep our employees safe.”
Worthington began molding its current safety culture in 2001, when the company shifted from its former compliance-focused safety initiative to institute Safe Works, a centralized safety program designed to strengthen the safety culture and support improved work behaviors. Safe Works “encourages all employees to value safety and promotes the positive impact it can have on other areas of a business - from employee morale to productivity and even profitability.”
Since instituting Safe Works, the company “has seen a drastic reduction in recordable/DART injuries,” Leff explains. In fiscal year 2008, the company recorded a lost-time injury rate of 1.22, compared to the steel processing industry average of 4.5.
“We're keeping employees healthier and more productive,” says Leff.
Worthington's commitment to safety and health includes a focus on workplace organization to eliminate waste and become more efficient in operations; a comprehensive wellness program; safety councils made up of employees who volunteer to serve as “safety ambassadors” for their peers; a PPE trial program, where employees test new PPE provided by vendors and therefore are outfitted with some of the latest and safest protective equipment; and training programs that reach out to new workers, management and everyone in between. It's all part of what makes Worthington one of America's safest.
“You've got to have commitment from management all the way to employees,” Leff says. “Safety better be No. 1.”
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