One of Southwire’s top priorities is partnering to create safer working conditions. As a responsible corporate citizen, we take great pride in sharing our knowledge and experience with other companies. In 2014, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) asked Southwire to mentor other companies regarding best practices. Kimberly Watson, Southwire’s director of safety, leads our partnership with OSHA and demonstrates remarkable leadership through her role on the Region IV Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association (VPPPA) board of directors.
Over the past two years, Watson has committed to help educate our nation’s leaders on the benefits that the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) offers companies like Southwire. Some of these benefits include:
- Injury and illness rates at VPP sites that, on average, are 50 percent below industry norms;
- Increased morale, a feeling of ownership among employees and an improved relationship between labor and management at the worksite;
- Greater savings for employers as workers’ compensation premiums and other costs improve due to fewer injuries and illnesses;
- Reduced compensation costs, absenteeism and insurance premiums along with increased productivity, making VPP sites more competitive;
- VPP sites that are dedicated to safety and health outreach, improving the health and well-being of their communities; and
- Sharing examples of proven ways to protect workers in their industries as input into OSHA’s standard-setting process.
During five educational outreach trips to Capitol Hill, Watson personally spoke with at least 50 members of Congress and their staff about the cooperative approach between labor, management and OSHA that fosters the exchange of ideas and best practices which, in turn, leads to creating robust safety and health cultures. Watson speaks about the steps taken to achieve 11 VPP Star sites at Southwire, as well as Southwire’s goal for all of our U.S. manufacturing and warehouse locations to become VPP Star sites by 2022. Watson plans to make more trips to Congress in 2015 and encourages other companies to do the same when given the opportunity.