Alabama’s Safest Manufacturers Award Winners

United States Gypsum Co. received the Overall Safety Standout award. Accepting the award were (left to right) Marty Tharp, Terri Smith and Matt Taylor. Photos by Bob Farley

Three Alabama companies were recognized for the inaugural Alabama Safest Manufacturers Awards presented by Business Alabama magazine at the Business Council of Alabama’s Manufacturer of the Year Awards event May 1 at the Alabama Activity Center in Montgomery.

Business Alabama created the Alabama Safest Manufacturers Awards to recognize safety best practices in manufacturing, a business sector that is responsible for the livelihoods of more than 260,000 Alabamians.

In creating the award, Business Alabama worked with Matt Hollub, of Alabama Safe State, to create the criteria for the award application. In addition, the Alabama Technology Network and the Alabama Society of Safety Professionals provided judges to review the applications and choose the winners.

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Alabama’s Safest Manufacturers for 2019 are United States Gypsum Co. in Bridgeport, which received the Overall Safety Standout award, shipbuilder Austal USA in Mobile and Specification Rubber Products Inc. in Alabaster.

United States Gypsum Co.’s first and most important core value is safety. The company is committed to the safety of its employees, customers and the communities where they live and do business. The company’s first safety rules were documented more than 100 years ago, and United States Gypsum was a founding member of the National Safety Council.

United States Gypsum has been in Alabama for 20 years. The Bridgeport facility employs about 142 men and women who make wallboard and other gypsum products, joint compounds, and surfaces, and support the overall operation.

In 2016, the company earned the National Safety Council’s Robert W. Campbell award, a respected celebration of a safety-first culture, for excellence in environmental, health and safety management. The company also received the 2015 EH&S Today Safest Companies Award, 15 Sentinels of Safety Awards and 17 OSHA VPP Star sites.

The company emphasizes that safety performance is closely tied to employee engagement and behavior and that daily safety best practice is fundamental to success.

Austal USA received the Alabama Safest Manufacturers award. Accepting the award is Craig Savage, director of communications and external affairs.

Austal USA is a winner of the Alabama’s Safest Manufacturers Award for 2019. A premiere military and civilian shipbuilder, Austal USA employs about 4,000 men and women mostly in Mobile where its shipyard was established 20 years ago. It’s the center of manufacturing for the Littoral Combat Ship and Expeditionary Fast Transport programs for the U.S. Navy.

With a work-hour loss ratio at half the maritime industry average, Austal USA has received awards from the Shipbuilders Council of America for Excellence in Safety and SCA awards for safety improvement from the American Long Shore Mutual Association for Best Large Shipyard.

The company emphasizes that safety is the responsibility and goal of everyone, from the newest employee to top management, and that an unsafe work environment is not acceptable. Company officials say that each year, the goal is to reduce the overall recordable rate by 15 percent.

Specification Rubber Products Inc., in Alabaster, also is a winner of the Alabama’s Safest Manufacturers Award for 2019. Founded in 1968 as a maker of molded rubber components for the waterworks industry with a specialty in rubber gaskets, today its 62 employees also supply engineered rubber products to ductile iron pipe, valve and hydrant producers, and provide specialty mechanical molded goods for industrial applications.

The company’s safety training schedule involves all levels of employees including new hires, established employees and management. The company’s recordable three injuries for 2018 was 70 percent fewer than in 2017 and there were no lost-time accidents for 2018.

The company lists “zero accidents” as a goal for 2019, noting that the goal can be attained through training and awareness.

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Dana Beyerle and Bob Farley are freelance contributors to Business Alabama.

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