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Shaw Industries: A Recognized Workplace Safety Program

  • December 28, 2013

Shaw Industries is a manufacturer of carpeting, flooring, and laminates based in Dalton, Georgia (a city known as the Carpet Capital of the World). The company got its start in 1946 as a small business dedicated to dyeing rugs to achieve desired colors. It grew to become the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, and since 2001 has been owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Shaw now is a $4 billion business with 25,000 employees.

Much of Shaw’s production capability is in the state of Georgia, where it has about 17,000 employees. In recent years, the company became very serious about instituting a methodical and comprehensive workplace safety plan. Jobs were analyzed from a safety perspective, and each employee was provided training for personal safety.

One of the most important parts of that plan was to seek out, and act upon, input from their workforce. Safety managers and plant managers found that as employee safety-related suggestions were implemented, not surprisingly, employees became even more committed to the company’s safety program. Moreover, safety improved substantially.

By 2011, the program has resulted in a 63 percent reduction in recordable injuries. In a full year, the company had 18 work sites with no injuries and 2 sites that completed more than one million work-hours with no accidents. A safer workplace also made for a more productive workplace.

Georgia’s State Labor Commissioner presented Shaw Industries with the Commissioner’s Cup Award, which is considered the premier workplace safety award presented each year by the department. Rick Ramirez, Shaw’s vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs, said, “We are very pleased that our focus on employee safety has been recognized with this award. At the same time, we won’t be completely satisfied until we reach our goal of zero injuries.”

L.B. Foster: Award-Winning Quality

  • November 26, 2013

When the L.B. Foster steel pipe coating plant in Birmingham, Alabama received the Level 3 Excellence Award from the Alabama Productivity Center this year, it marked the latest achievement at a company obsessed with quality.

Founded in Pennsylvania in 1902, L.B. Foster made its name in business with an ironclad warranty. In those days, the company refurbished and resold used rail, retrieved from abandoned railroads and urban transit systems. To set itself apart from competitors, the company guaranteed: “If the material is not up to the standard represented, ship it back and we will pay the freight both ways.”  

Today, L.B. Foster is a publicly traded company with operations in several states, manufacturing tubular, rail industry, and construction industry products. The steel pipe coating plant in Alabama, which employs 50 to 60 employees based on customer demand, is ISO 9001:2008 registered. With superb precision, it applies fusion bond epoxy corrosion protection on 10.75" to 24" diameter steel line pipe. The plant recently reached one million employee hours without a lost time accident.

The award received by L.B. Foster Award is a state-level distinction patterned after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. For its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, L.B. Foster and its steel pipe coating plant make for a Great Manufacturing Story.

Sherwin-Williams: A Culture of Workplace Safety

  • November 15, 2013

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OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) awards “Star” status to facilities with comprehensive safety and health management systems and superior records of workplace safety. Companies work with OSHA to pursue, achieve and maintain Star status.

At Sherwin-Williams, participation in the program is a reflection of a company-wide commitment to occupational safety and health. Certified industrial hygienists help design and administer the program. The Chicago plant was the first U.S. paint manufacturing facility to obtain Star status. Today, they have two dozen VPP Star or Merit sites in the U.S., more than any other coatings company. That includes 18 manufacturing sites and 6 distribution centers.

Manufacturers like Sherwin-Williams go the extra mile on workplace safety because they recognize their workers are their most valuable asset, and that safe workplaces are an essential part of a sound business strategy. Modeling those values, Sherwin-Williams is now celebrating its 145th anniversary as a U.S. manufacturer.