A strong safety system in a manufacturing facility is worthy of recognition and celebration. In May, our Hawesville and Dryden mills received prestigious awards for outstanding safety performance and leadership. For Domtar, the honors set a positive trend for the summer as June marks the National Safety Council’s annual observance of National Safety Month.
For the third time in the last six years, our Hawesville Mill earned the Kentucky governor’s health and safety award for outstanding safety performance and a commitment to workplace safety. Through Dec. 31, 2021, mill employees logged more than one million hours on the job without reporting a workplace injury, accident or illness that resulted in lost time for the company.
The Hawesville Mill’s recognition comes on the heels of Pulp & Paper Canada’s naming our Dryden Mill the safest in Canada in its respective category for the second time in the past two years.
Hawesville and Dryden have this in common: The mills achieve success because of a safety system driven by strong employee engagement and collaboration across the organization.
Managing a Successful Safety System
“A successful safety system is driven by workplace culture, which should see a high level of engagement with the goal of continuous improvement,” says Dryden Mill Manager Marie Cyr. “We put a great deal of effort into proactive safety management, utilizing tools, programs and campaigns to reinforce this.”
The Dryden Mill’s safety system is built on the Human Performance Improvement process, which holds the individual worker and the organization to an equal level of accountability.
“It changes the way that we react to incidents,” Cyr says. “Human error is inevitable, so our goal is to minimize the consequence of the error. We want every worker to go home safely at the end of the day, so it is our job to learn from past and current events to build proactive approaches that will help achieve this goal.”
Employee Engagement is Key
Over the past year, the Dryden team has launched numerous communications and awareness campaigns to instill a “proactive safety mindset” in employees and encourage them to take responsibility for ensuring their own safety in addition to the safety of those around them.
This idea includes involving employees in their incident investigation and improvement process, which Cyr says has given employees the confidence and freedom to bring safety concerns forward to any level of the mill’s management.
Hawesville Mill Manager Murray Hewitt is proud that his teammates feel similarly because a culture that thrives on cooperation and collaboration ensures everyone at the mill can go home each day as safe and healthy as they arrived.
“The governor’s health and safety award is the result of outstanding partnership across our entire organization to achieve phenomenal results,” he says. “I’m very proud of our team for the way everyone is looking out for each other to not only ensure that we get our work done, but that we get it done safely, first and foremost.”
The Safety Journey Never Ends
Our safety system is an essential element of our success and sustainability because the job of keeping employees and contractors safe at work is never done. That’s why our safety goals are a priority in our sustainability agenda moving toward 2030, with a focus on the most serious injuries — those that are life-altering and can significantly affect employees or contractors and have long-term consequences.
“While many people equate the term ‘sustainability’ with nature, we know there is nothing more important to our sustainability than the health and safety of our colleagues and communities,” says Paige Goff, vice president for sustainability at Domtar.