Prioritizing Worker Safety

Aug 30, 2016
Lancey_Stan-Web Missimer_Katie-Web
 Stan Lancey
Chief Economist
Katie Missimer
Manager, Environmental Policy

Worker safety continues to be a top priority for AF&PA members. Their commitment to safety is demonstrated in a variety of ways: through worker training programs, increased automation, adopting a host of injury-preventive measures and safeguards, and developing new equipment to keep workers safe.

Because any injuries to our industry’s employees are not acceptable, AF&PA members adopted a visionary Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goal of working towards zero injuries and measuring progress toward that vision by further improving our incidence rate by 25 percent from 2006 to 2020.

Between 2006 and 2014, the incidence rate for member companies declined by 40.8 percent to 1.56. The 2014 incidence rate for manufacturing at large was 4.0 in 2014, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, more than double the rate of AF&PA members. (The incident rate measures the number of recordable cases for 100 people working 40 hours a week for 50 weeks.)  

Paper and wood products companies continue to participate in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The program includes industrial facilities that voluntarily work to maintain job illness and injury rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages. In fact, the paper and wood products manufacturing industry has the second largest number of facilities of any manufacturing sector registered by VPP.

To promote safety, AF&PA conducts a biannual safety benchmarking survey that allows member companies to compare their metrics with those of their peers. AF&PA also issues annual sustainability awards. The Leadership in Sustainability Award for Safety is presented to member companies that demonstrate outstanding achievements in this category.    

For our members, the focus on safety goes beyond improving our incident rate. Many of our members offer their workers health and wellness programs such as health fairs, fitness facilities, and health screening and education programs.

Although AF&PA members have achieved their goal of a 25 percent reduction in the incident rate, members will not be satisfied until all worker injuries have been eliminated.  We continue to look for innovative worker safety programs to realize our vision of zero injuries.