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    Consistent Approach To Safety Results In Recognition For Employees Of A. O. Smith Florence Plant



    Milwaukee, Wis (Tuesday, 15 May 2012)

    Consistency is a virtue for most businesses, especially when it comes to quality and customer service. 

    The employees of A. O. Smith’s Florence, Ky., plant were recognized for a different form of consistency today, maintaining a consistently safe workplace. As a result, the 45 Florence employees received the 2011 Lloyd B. Smith President’s Safety Award, the company’s highest award in the field of workplace safety.

    “Consistency is critical in the area of workplace safety,” A. O. Smith President and Chief Operating Officer Ajita G. Rajendra said during an award presentation ceremony today. “We have made a point of creating one uniform set of safety standards for all of our employees worldwide. In addition, we have one uniform set of expectations: that each facility at A. O. Smith will make a priority of working safely at all times. If one A. O. Smith plant epitomizes consistency, it’s Florence.” 

    The 50,000-square-foot Florence plant manufactures glass frit, used in the production of porcelain enamel coatings for residential and commercial water heaters. It also produces a wide range of specialty glasses and coatings for appliances, sanitary ware, and bathroom fixtures. 

    The recipient of the President’s Safety Award is based on statistical evidence of improvement over a one-year period as well as offering a comprehensive facility-wide safety program focused on the goal of accident prevention. A total of 13 A. O. Smith plants worldwide were evaluated in determining this year’s recipient. 

    The three statistical categories are: 

    • 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 reported no lost-time accidents or recordable incidents in 2011 and has experienced just two recordable incidents in the last two years. 

    “We don’t have any major new safety programs, but we can point to literally a dozen smaller ongoing safety programs, over two dozen project initiatives, over three dozen employee-led safety equipment improvements, and hundreds of employee safety inspections,” Glenn Pfendt, Florence general manager, pointed out. 

    The plant has conducted regular safety inspections for more than 15 years, based on the Safety Training and Observation Program™ originally developed by DuPont Corporation. “When we began the STOP program, it was just for supervisors. However, we expanded it to include all employees,” Bob Angel, manufacturing manager, explained. “It drives home the message that safety is everyone’s responsibility.” 

    The plant also incorporated safety projects into the continuous improvement initiative it has sponsored for the last 10 years. In 2011, employees submitted ideas that resulted in more than 20 continuous improvement projects, ranging from upgrading safety gates on the mezzanine level of the building to installing dust abatement equipment on smelters, according to Angel. Florence also offered Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified safety training to a group of 10 employees last year and is considering offering the program again in 2012. 

    Another key to Florence’s success is the level of employee participation, with more than 90 percent of the men and women involved in safety-related activities. The plant has a uniquely structured safety committee with rotating membership that allows any employee to participate. This ensures a fresh flow of new ideas as well as employee buy-in, Pfendt observed. 

    One initiative launched during 2011 was a safety poster competition to replace the purchased safety posters traditionally displayed in the plant. “We divided the plant into teams, and each team creates and submits a poster each quarter,” Florence Safety Coordinator Chuck Haubner explained. “We’ve seen a lot of good ideas, a lot of family-oriented ideas reminding employees they are working safely for their spouses and families.” 

    The President’s Safety Award is named after 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. The award was established in 1954, making it the longest-running employee recognition program in company history. 

    About A. O. Smith Corporation 

    A. O. Smith Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heating equipment and boilers, offering a comprehensive line featuring the best-known brands in North America and China, as well as water purification products for residential and light commercial applications. A. O. Smith, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., employs approximately 10,500 people at operations in the U. S., Canada, Mexico, India, China, and the Netherlands. www.AOSmith.com.


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