APA Honors Weyerhaeuser’s Elkin, N.C., OSB Mill for Creative, Engaging Safety Efforts

Among both its internal employees and outside peers, Weyerhaeuser is known for its deeply rooted safety culture, a commitment that spans from the corporate offices to the mills to the timberlands.

Weyerhaeuser’s Elkin, N.C., OSB plant has embraced safety with a particular enthusiasm—an approach that recently earned its 140 team members accolades from APA-The Engineered Wood Association.

APA recognized the Elkin plant with an “Innovation in Safety Award,” a highly coveted prize that is part of the association’s annual Safety and Health Awards.

During the summer of 2013, the Elkin mill’s Safety Team hosted a Summer Safety Blitz, a campaign designed to engage team members and issue important reminders during a time of year when accidents are more common throughout the industry. The Blitz included a hoop shoot, in which employees answered safety questions for a chance to shoot baskets for prizes, and a giveaway of lunch coolers filled with summer-themed gear such as sunscreen and camo-emblazoned safety glasses.

In addition, the location participated in a corporate-wide effort, starting with a slogan contest. Elkin employees submitted 150 entries to the contest and one of them—“Safety: It’s what’s hot this summer” submitted by Elkin associate Dale DeVaughn—was the company-wide winner.

The team also won two out of four corporate-sponsored video contests. For the first, which had to incorporate the new summer safety slogan, the employees parodied Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” as “Chill It,” addressing several summer safety topics with rewritten lyrics and recomposing the Beat It video’s fight scene as a battle between team Sqwincher Pops/Apples versus Team Water Bottles/Grapes. (Click here to view the video.)

The plant’s second win was a video that transformed the movie “Despicable Me” into “Distractible Me” and saw team members dancing and singing about distractions—to the tune of ’80s mega-hit “Safety Dance”while dressed up as the famous yellow Minions, complete with associates spelling out the word “safety.” (Click here to view the video.)

“As we went through summer, more and more people got engaged,” says safety manager Barry Cleary, safety manager.

These efforts were in addition to the many safety procedures already in place at the mill, including a voluntary safety team made up of 25 employees and daily shift-change safety meetings for each team, where discussions include procedures, reminders, and near-miss lessons.

“We have a culture where we coach one another; people take that really well—it’s an understood practice,” says Cleary. “Plus, you’ve got leaders who practice what they preach and who genuinely care. Simply put, we are a family that cares about one another.”

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