As Domtar has evolved over the past 175 years, so has manufacturing safety. The policies and practices in place today are the result of our continuous desire to adapt and improve the ways we keep employees safe at work. With June being National Safety Month, let’s look at how safety has evolved at Domtar.
In our earliest days, we learned how to be safer as we worked. As we learned, we adapted. Some of the earliest forms of personal protective equipment in the workplace were shoes. From there, head, face and hand protection soon followed.
Like other manufacturers, Domtar saw a significant transition in manufacturing safety in the early 1970s, when the United States created the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) to establish and maintain workplace health and safety regulations. Eight years later, Canada formed the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety “for the advancement of safe and healthy workplaces, and preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.” These regulations formed a basis for additional improvements in manufacturing safety.
In the 1980s and 1990s, focus shifted beyond regulations to behavior-based manufacturing safety improvements. In the 2000s attention progressed to human and organizational improvement with an emphasis on the prevention of serious, life-altering injuries. Those efforts have proven to be highly effective in helping ensure our employees remain safe at work.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. We’ve endured a few tragedies and had to learn some hard lessons along the way. The memory of those we’ve lost serve as a constant reminder of the importance of always looking out for each other.
Manufacturing Safety Is Everyone’s Focus
We’re proud of the manufacturing safety culture we’ve built at Domtar. It’s one where people at all levels are empowered — and expected — to act if they encounter an unsafe condition. This collaborative culture has allowed us to implement many processes and practices at our sites that have prevented numerous potential incidents over the years.
Our most recent manufacturing safety achievement is also one of the biggest in our history. Over the course of the Kingsport Mill’s two-year conversion from a paper mill into our first 100-percent recycled packaging facility, construction crews surpassed more than 2.5 million hours without a lost-time incident. That gives the project the prestigious distinction of being one of the largest — and statistically safest — undertakings in Domtar’s history.
We know where we’ve been, and each day it helps us shape the direction we’re heading. Our employees’ safety takes precedence over all else.
“Nothing we do is more important than keeping our people safe,” says Charlie Floyd, vice president of strategic capital projects.