Plant safety is not a competition, but the best performing operations deserve some credit, or even reward, for their achievement — and to set a standard for other manufacturers. Generally, high safety standards are their own reward, though there are certainly other benefits to plants that implement effective safety standards and maintain sound records for safe operation. Among these are insurance cost savings, worker loyalty, and in the forging industry the FIA’s Annual Safety Awards program.

Each year the Forging Industry Assn. surveys member companies to document safety performances, tracking OSHA reportable Incidence Rates and Frequency Rates at different plant sites to identify the leading plant-safety performers in the industry. The annual Safety Awards are presented to forging companies in four groups, according to the average annual employment at each location. 

Information for the competition is gathered via questionnaires delivered annually to all FIA producer members. Each plant provides data recorded on OSHA Form No. 300, “Summary of Occupational Injuries/ Illnesses for Calendar Year” for U.S. companies, and from Worker’s Compensation Reports for Canadian companies on the questionnaires.

Two rates are computed for each participant: DART -- Days Away from work, work Restrictions, or job Transfer cases -- Incidence Rate, and Frequency Rate. The published report provides a summary for the total industry and detailed company rankings, according to the Incidence Rate by size groups.

FIA presents first-, second-, and third-place Safety Award plaques to plants that have the lowest Recordable Cases Incidence Rate, provided that the DART Incidence Rate falls below the group average. In the event that Recordable Incidence Rates are equal, FIA assigns the award to the plant with the lower DART Incidence Rate.

Awards for improvement are presented to plants that demonstrated the greatest decrease in the DART Incidence Rate. This is determined by percentage of improvement by DART Incidence Rate compared with the average of the preceding three years.

A certificate of recognition is awarded to each company that does not earn a first-, second-, or third-place rank, and where the Recordable Incidence Rate falls below the group average — provided that the DART Incidence Rate also falls below the group average.

One of the inherent difficulties of developing a successful safety program is that there are no perfect examples to follow, because every plant is different, as is every workforce. The variables are the details that must be managed.

Each award is the result of a daily effort by plant managers and safety engineers to develop and maintain high standards in their operation. We sought more insight on those efforts from the forging operations that took top honors in FIA’s 2013 survey.