Southwire’s Kentucky Plant recently received a three-year Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) recertification.
According to its website, OSHA recognizes employers and workers in the private industry and federal agencies that have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national averages for their respective industries.
Obtaining this recertification means that Southwire’s Kentucky Plant meets the VPP Standard requirements. Tom Heberling, vice president of manufacturing, says the achievement highlights Southwire’s company-wide effort to strive for zero incidents in safety.
“Receiving the VPP recertification highlights Southwire’s commitment to zero incidents in safety,” said Heberling. “The recertification highlights Kentucky’s absolute commitment to providing a safe work environment for the entire employee base.”
For Brian Blair, plant manager, the achievement recognizes how diligently the plant has worked to deliver on its commitment to safety.
“This is a formal, public demonstration of our words lining up with our actions, with regard to safety being our number one priority,” said Blair. “It reflects Southwire’s overall commitment to employee safety and long-term benefit that goes beyond any verbal obligation we could have made.”
In Kentucky, the recertification consists of auditing four main elements of the VPP program: hazard prevention and control, worksite analysis, training and management commitment and worker involvement.
The process begins with perception surveys, in which employees are tested on their knowledge of safety and the culture of safety at the facility. This is followed by a review of incident and program records, a physical audit of the facility and a follow-up audit to ensure that all action items were completed.
Ryan Goad, safety manager, says that the plant adapted and learned how to increase safety amidst challenges presented by the pandemic.
“Although the team is only required to verify 25 percent of initial findings, they verified 65 percent of the audit findings with no issues,” said Goad. “They were very appreciative of the challenges we’ve had to handle over the last year since they were unable to be on site for most of the steps required for the recertification. There are only 19 sites in the entire state with a VPP certification.”
For Kathleen Edge, executive vice president of Operations, the recertification gives confidence to the plant’s employees that processes are in place to ensure that their safety is a priority.
To learn more about OSHA’s VPP, visit https://www.osha.gov/vpp/all-about-vpp.
“The VPP certification lets me know that we have sustained the improvements and processes to make sure our employees are safe. It’s not just about preventing an injury,” said Edge. “It’s about creating a place where employees feel safe to come to work, and the certification is a reflection of our leadership team and employee base in Kentucky.”