Cleveland’s Owens Corning plant has been awarded the Volunteer STAR, or Safety Through Accountability and Recognition, award for a second time.
The award was given to the company by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday to applaud its efforts to improve and maintain safety in the workplace.
Jim Flanagan, manager of TOSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, said the plant was one of 38 in the state to meet the standards for the award, but those 38 were chosen from thousands of companies statewide.
“It truly is an elite group,” Flanagan said as he addressed the plant’s 34 employees.
He told the staff it was the efforts of both the management and the regular employees that made a difference in how safe the plant was for everyone involved.
Flanagan added the effects of the plant’s safety measures reached beyond what the company was doing to produce its products.
“The true value of the award is what you do this afternoon when you leave injury-free,” he said.
On average, the companies that have received the award have seen an injury rate that is 70 percent lower than for other companies in the state.
Trey Hite, plant leader of the company’s Cleveland and Springfield locations, also commended the staff for looking out for each other by reporting things that might pose safety issues and suggesting ways to remedy them.
“We want to continue to build that ownership between the team members,” Hite said.
Dan Eigel, general manager for the plants in this part of the country, said having a good safety record meant a lot for the company’s plans to expand in the coming months.
Starting next month, the Cleveland plant will begin producing a new glass-based material that GE will begin using as it manufactures its Roper brand stoves, he said.
Partnerships to produce more products for other companies are in the works as well.
Eigel praised the plant’s staff for staying diligent about safety, because he said he believed diligence would also translate into good production results.
“In a plant like this, if you don’t have that discipline, it’s really hard when you’re looking for places to expand,” Eigel said to the staff. “Here, you’ve everything it takes in place.”
The plant could be considered for recertification in another three years if they maintain current standards.
A company applies to receive the STAR award through a “rigorous” application process where they outline everything they are doing to ensure a low number of safety-related incidents, Flanagan said.
Part of the application process involves TOSHA staff spending time at a company for an entire week to ensure everything said on the application is true.
Once a company has received the award, they send TOSHA annual reports of how they are doing.
After three years, another week-long observation time happens, and a company can be recertified to receive the award for a second time, as Owens Corning just did.
Award winners are also removed from the state’s programmed compliance inspection lists for the three-year period, as they have already volunteered to be under high degrees of scrutiny.
Though not every company is able to maintain STAR status, Flanagan said his office handles about 10 recertifications each year.
“They see the value in it,” he said.
As part of the award presentation, Flanagan gave the plant a trophy and a flag to be flown outside the warehouse.
Owens Corning produces glass and fiber-based building materials like insulation from its location at the Tri-State Warehouses off Urbane Road.