For the workers at Williamsburg’s Firestone Industrial Products plant, the word “safety” isn’t just a word posted on the wall in a break room. It’s a goal and a way of working that they take seriously every day.
Williamsburg Plant Manager Michael Weir said that in his 27 years of working in manufacturing, this was the first group he has had that have accomplished working two-million man hours without lost-time accident, and the difference is the people.
“It is that simple. All the different ways it can be described and all the different ways it can be put, the difference in this building is the people that we have. I describe it more like a family,” Weir said.
“At the end of the day we genuinely care for each other and look out for each other that goes a long ways in promoting our safety programs and making the extra effort that it takes to work safely each day. To work together to accomplish two-million man hours without lost time, this is the first time in the history of this plant.”
Last Wednesday morning, workers at the plant were recognized for their safety efforts and presented with their fourth Kentucky Governor’s Award for Safety and Health in seven years.
The Kentucky Governor’s Award for Safety and Health recognizes outstanding safety and health performance, as measured by number of hours worked without experiencing a lost-time injury or illness.
The award was presented during a celebration of the Williamsburg plant’s achievement of the significant safety milestone. In attendance were state and local officials, including Kentucky Labor Cabinet Deputy
Secretary Michael Nemes, who presented the award to plant leadership; State Representative Regina Bunch; Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr.; and Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison; along with Firestone Director of Global Operations, Brad Marks.
“The Governor’s Award for Safety and Health reflects the hard work and commitment of all of our teammates, who embrace safety as a core value and work every day to ensure a safe workplace,” Marks said. “Achieving this recognition for a fourth time, and reaching the milestone of two million man hours without a lost-time accident, is a testament to the safety first, always mission and culture that are present at our Williamsburg manufacturing facility and across our global organization.”
The Williamsburg plant has the second highest number of hours worked without a lost time accident out of all the Bridgestone Americas plants, and the incident rate is 69 percent below the national average for companies its size, Marks noted.
“You can see that health and safety is a top priority for this plant,” he added. “We are very grateful to the city of Williamsburg, Whitley County and the state. Your help helps us contribute to our ongoing success and to the future.”
Marks also presented Williamsburg plant workers with the CEO Safety Recognition Plaque last Wednesday.
Weir added that the Williamsburg plant has received the CEO Safety Recognition Plaque and the “best place to work” award for three years in a row.
Bunch noted that plant workers didn’t reach this status by chance.
“The level of success you all have is earned. You have earned this success through your commitment to excellence,” she said.
Local officials encouraged plant workers to go for three million man-hours without a lost time accident, and said they hope to be back for a celebration recognizing that achievement next year.
“Let’s go for three. What do you say?” Harrison asked the crowd.
“Hopefully next year we will be sitting here talking about three million,” White added. “It is hard to put into words what you all have accomplished. You all are making the unbelievable look like it is just something simple, just old hat.”
White noted that he is currently trying to teach his oldest son, who is six years old, to play coach pitch baseball, and about the importance of doing his best at whatever he is doing.
“All those things I am trying to teach my son, you guys get it. You get all of it,” White said. “To make this accomplishment, it required teamwork. It required effort. It required self-confidence. You have all contributed to and represented our community amazingly well, and you keep raising the bar. I want to thank you not just for that accomplishment but for the example you all are setting. You all are setting an example for our community and my sons. We appreciate the high marks and the high bar you all are setting.”
The Williamsburg Firestone plant manufactures air springs for the heavy-duty truck, automotive, and agricultural market.