By Stan Lancey
Worker safety is a top priority for AF&PA member companies. Because any injuries to our industry’s employees are not acceptable, American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) members adopted a visionary Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goal of working towards zero injuries and measuring progress toward that vision by reducing our incidence rate by 25 percent from 2006 to 2020.
According to the most recent data, the AF&PA member company incidence rate reached 1.67 per 200,000 hours worked in 2016, down 36.3 percent relative to the 2006 base-year level and well below the 2016 all-manufacturing average rate of 3.6 reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
However, despite achieving our goal way ahead of schedule, AF&PA members are not satisfied with this progress. Rather, they are working in numerous ways to reduce all safety incidents, and are particularly focused on reducing serious injuries and fatalities. In order to achieve further progress, they are promoting safety cultures, providing worker training, and investing in equipment and controls.
Paper and wood products companies continue to participate in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). The program includes industrial facilities that voluntarily work to maintain job illness and injury rates below national BLS averages. For a work site to be admitted to the VPP, it must meet rigorous performance-based safety and health criteria. In 2017, our industry had 149 sites (80 paper facility sites and 69 wood products sites) enrolled in federal and state VPPs. In fact, the paper and wood products manufacturing industry has the second largest number of facilities of any manufacturing sector registered by VPP.
AF&PA also has several ongoing projects to help member companies promote safety in their respective workplaces. We convene annual safety workshops, organize safety webinars, and issue awards to member companies that demonstrate outstanding safety achievements.
AF&PA conducts a biannual safety benchmarking survey that allows member companies to compare their metrics with those of their peers and conducts an annual survey to help member companies understand where and why serious injuries and fatalities occur so that they could be avoided in the future.
In conclusion, while we are proud of the progress that has been achieved to date, our members are committed to taking actions that will put us on a path to reaching the visionary goal of zero workplace injuries.