Workplace safety and health remain Southwire’s primary concern for all of our employees and contractors. Southwire manages safety as a matter of principle—employees’ and contractors’ well-being matters most. Effectively managing workplace safety and health constantly improves working conditions, which in turn improves our employees’ quality of life. At Southwire, we recognize the important role our employees play in differentiating us from our competition by ensuring we consistently deliver the best quality product to our customers in a timely manner. Failing to deliver a safe and healthy working environment puts our recruitment and retention of the highest quality employees at risk—and is not consistent with our company value system. When our employees are safe and healthy, Southwire performs best.
Southwire Culture of Zero Continuum
Safety has always been core to Southwire’s culture. As a means to plot our path to excellence, in 2015 we established the Southwire Culture of Zero Continuum to help our leaders move the organization across the safety systems continuum—from reactive to proactive, and then from systems-based to world class. Recognizing that each Southwire location may find itself at a different place on the continuum, this tactic offers a “meet them where they are” approach to safety planning and execution. The continuum will play a very important role in future Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) planning processes, serving as a strong method for identifying the locations most in need of support and guidance in the following areas outlined in the continuum:
- Leadership commitment;
- Responsibility and accountability;
- Organization and structure;
- Communication and training;
- Incident management;
- Hazard identification and controls;
- Work practices and behavior; and
- Measurement and monitoring.
Clearly describing excellence and accountability in each of these areas will enable employees across the organization to continue to enhance safety performance. We adhere to FranklinCovey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution—focus, leverage, engagement and accountability—to place a hyper focus on the five locations experiencing the most injuries. Each facility will have their own performance targets aimed at progressing the organization across the continuum towards excellence and, ultimately, fewer injuries. The continuum will help Southwire better measure, track and trend how an individual facility is progressing along the continuum of EHS excellence toward management system certification. Our goal is zero injuries, period.
Reflecting our emphasis on governance, we hold leaders to the highest level of accountability for workplace safety and health. Responsibility starts with the Sustainability Committee of our board and our chief executive officer, and cascades down to Southwire’s EHS steering committee. Additionally, all plant and location managers participate in weekly conferences to report their performance on workplace safety and health metrics, review safety incidents and present best practices. Our operations leadership team convenes monthly to set strategies and review progress on implemented action plans at all Southwire facilities with the support and guidance of our safety teams.
Policies and Compliance
A vast network of policies, starting with our EHS policy, guides our operational safety. In 2015, Southwire began integrating our EHS policies with our corporate management systems. This more comprehensive system will form the foundation of future workplace safety and health management initiatives, such as our new internal efforts to comply with ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001/ISO 45001. In addition to policies, Southwire’s safety guidelines outline requirements for corporate personnel and visitors to our facilities.
To continue to improve our safety performance, Southwire has set three aggressive long-term goals covering both employees and contractors:
- Certification of Safety Management Systems. Implement one of the following certified safety management systems at all manufacturing and warehouse locations by year-end 2022: OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), Occupational Health Safety Assessment Specification (OHSAS) 18001 (soon to become ISO 45001) or an in-country equivalent
- Employee Safety. Achieve an OSHA Total Recordable Injury Rate for global operations of less than 1.0 by year-end 2018.
- Contractor Safety. Achieve 20% reduction in contractor injury rates by year-end 2018.
Certification of Safety Management Systems
Safety management systems enable Southwire to achieve and sustain success in workplace safety and health. Southwire committed to implementing and certifying a safety management system at each of our locations by 2022. Currently, close to 40% of Southwire sites meet this goal.
Within our U.S. operations, Southwire is working to certify all manufacturing and warehouse operations within the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) program which consists of: management commitment, employee involvement, hazard prevention and control and safety training. Operations outside of the United States will certify against the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Specification (OHSAS) 18001 (soon to be ISO 45001) or an in-country equivalent standard, such as our Tecate, Mexico facility, which is certified under Mexico’s Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social Empresa Segura program.
Contractor Safety Initiatives
Southwire holds on-site contractors to the same standards as employees and evaluates their safety performance before they arrive using our pre-qualification program. To pre-qualify, contractors must achieve a grade of either A or B for the following requirements:
- Experience modifier
- Written safety program
- Safety questionnaire
- Evaluation reports
- Drug/alcohol & background checks
- T- RAVS (training documents)
We tailor these requirements to the contractor’s type of work. After pre-qualification, we host contractor safety orientations to help them learn our internal environmental, health and safety requirements. We also implemented an electronic reporting system for contractor incident investigations and inspections.
Health and Safety Committees
We implemented our new key performance indicator that measures percent environmental, health and safety (EHS) involvement for all of our manufacturing and warehouse operations. This measure captures the total percentage of the workforce engaged in Safety, Health and Environmental committees, teams or other hazard identification and mitigation strategies. Establishing this new indicator in 2015 allowed us to set an 80 percent participation rate target for 2016. Monitoring participation rates enables us to better identify and manage opportunities for improvement.
In 2015, we aimed our strategic learning focus at increasing organizational capability in the areas of workplace ergonomics and human performance error management techniques. Throughout the year, we convened location leaders, including safety and engineering support staff, at technical “skill builders”—events designed to improve working knowledge and skills in these fundamental areas. Through this learning, our plants have been able to reduce workplace risk in these and other areas.
We believe in the adage, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Therefore, we track a wide variety of performance metrics related to workplace safety and health. In 2015, we added a series of leading indicator data to enable a more proactive assessment of our safety performance. One focus area in our leading indicator reporting was near misses. We also track but do not publicly report OSHA citations/violations.
The acquisition of Coleman Cable resulted in an increase in Southwire’s injury rate. We spent much of 2015 integrating our newly acquired locations into our current workplace safety and health processes and policies and continuing to gather data.
Among our various manufacturing plants and distribution facilities, our employees actively participate on health and safety committees and teams, including emergency preparedness, ergonomics, job safety analysis, hazard recognition, incident investigation, sustainability, environmental, behavior based safety, lockout/tagout, machine guarding, first responders and steering committees. These teams are made up of 324 management staff and 895 hourly personnel, which represents approximately 17 percent of our total workforce.
OSHA Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR)*
OSHA Lost Work Day Rate (LWDR)*
*Number of incidents (200,000)/hours worked.
VPP Sites or Equivalent**
**In 2014, the number of VPP Star sites decreased due to a facility closure.
Southwire’s 2014 acquisition of Coleman Cable increased the total number of sites, resulting in a significant decrease in the percentage of VPP or equivalent certified sites. In 2015, Southwire acquired a plant in Huntersville, North Carolina, bringing the total number of sites to 37.
Southwire measured occupational illness rate for the first time in 2015, despite no evidence of high incidences in the past, and continues to monitor injury and illness trends through our corporate Safety and Health department. For 2015, we again found no discernable trend in occupational illness. Should any trend in occupational illness arise, we will manage it through our existing risk mitigation processes.
Southwire’s pre-integration operations have no trade unions. We are currently working to understand and address any safety and health topics outlined in agreements within our newly acquired union-represented locations.