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Multi-faceted approach to safety pays off for A.O. Smith

Tipp City, OH -- While A. O. Smith's million-hour safety designation has typically gone to manufacturing facilities...


Tipp City, OH — While A. O. Smith’s million-hour safety designation has typically gone to manufacturing facilities in the past, Electrical Products Company’s Tipp City, Ohio, operation proves that safe working practices are not limited to the shop floor.

Tipp City, which houses manufacturing, product engineering laboratories, warehousing, and offices, was recognized as the latest A. O. Smith facility to exceed one million hours without a lost-time accident. Tipp City began its streak on April 30, 2005, and reached the million-hour milestone on July 6, 2006. With no lost-time accidents so far this year, the facility’s record has now reached just under 1.2 million hours.

The unusual mix of fabrication, test labs, and warehousing contained in one location has necessitated a unique approach to workplace safety, according to Mike Galloway, manager of environmental health and safety for Electrical Products.

“Each area is varied in their types of exposure,” he explained. “You have traditional manufacturing, but you also have the labs with a lot of electrical and electronic equipment and the warehouses with heavy lifting and lift trucks involved.”

To accommodate these differing needs, Tipp City established a two-level structure to its safety program. A Safety Lead Team, made up of functional leaders Jim Kinninger (performance labs and model shop), Steve Dellinger (product engineering), Gary Kagy (manufacturing), Duane Kaiser (warehouse and logistics), Bill Moeller (human resources) and Chuck Albertson (offices and customer service), oversees the program. The lead team develops Tipp City’s annual safety plan, review programs and sets annual performance goals for the facility.

The Tipp City Safety Committee, made up of employees from manufacturing, the labs, and the warehouse, handles day-to-day safety activities. The committee conducts regular safety reviews throughout the facility, coordinates safety training and handles communications activities.
Members of the Tipp City Safety Committee are: Chris Estepp, Mike Galloway, Hugh Fesmire, Dick Rozell, Rick Rupp, Glen Lybarger, Wes Grimm, Rob Wolfe, Judy Jacobs, Kevin Coffield, John Kolter and Robert Chalmers.

The committee either conducts its own reviews or oversees the assessments in each area of the facility. Manufacturing, the labs and model shop, and the warehouse have each developed their own unique evaluation forms to help them conduct consistent, thorough reviews of their areas.

“It’s a two-pronged approach,” Galloway notes. “The committee has regular reviews where they walk through all work areas, identify issues,and document corrective actions. But there’s also a way for employees to bring issues to the committee.”

In addition to the periodic workplace safety assessments, the committee is responsible for equipment inspections in the plant, the labs and the warehouse.

Workplace safety is central to Tipp City’s internal communications effort. A safety-related item is always first on the agenda of any employee meeting, and there are communications boards with safety content throughout the facility.

As part of Tipp City’s comprehensive safety initiative, the Lead Team has set up a process of regular reviews and training for a list of 12 safety-related activities, such as lock-out/tag-out, hazard communication, forklift training, and press safety. Each activity is reviewed annually on a recurring cycle to ensure that employees remain aware and well trained in each area.

Tipp City has also implemented a “closed loop system” related to safety issues. “The closed loop approach means that any time the committee identifies a hazard in the workplace, there must be a documented corrective action,” Galloway explained.

Tipp City is the third A. O. Smith facility to surpass the million-hour milestone in 2006. Also reaching the million-hour mark were PEA in Acua, Mexico, and IG-MEX Plant 6 in Juarez, Mexico.

A. O. Smith Electrical Products Company, with headquarters in Tipp City, Ohio, is a manufacturer of alternating current (A/C) and direct current (D/C) fractional horsepower motors, hermetic motors for air conditioning and commercial refrigeration compressors, and integral horsepower motors. The company employs more than 13,000 people at facilities in the United States, Mexico, China, England and Hungary.