A. O. Smith Corp. recently presented its highest safety honor, the Lloyd B. Smith President's Safety Award, to the 1,200 employees of its Water Products Co. plant in Johnson City, Tenn.

The safety award is given to the facility that compiles the best safety record in a calendar year, based on statistical evidence of improvement over that period as well as by sustaining a comprehensive facility-wide safety program focused on the goal of accident prevention. Johnson City was one of 40 company facilities worldwide competing to receive this year’s honor.

The Johnson City plant emphasizes awareness and accountability by making safety a part of the training for each assignment in the facility, from blueprint reading to fork lift driving.  No employee may change job assignments without understanding the safety aspects of the new job.

In addition to the extensive training, Johnson City’s comprehensive safety program extends to every facet of the operation. Each department contributes to the safety program by requiring that safety is a mandatory element of each project or machine upgrade. This effort has extended to machine guarding, die storage and an integrated press lock-out system. 

There has also been great emphasis placed on ergonomic improvements at Johnson City, a key element in helping Johnson City reach five million hours without a lost time accident. Projects such as installing lifts for heavy components, lowering work stations to eliminate the need for bending, and positioning tools on retractable hangers for easier accessibility have helped reduce fatigue and the potential for accidents.

Johnson City helps engage all of its employees though an annual Summer Safety Celebration. During this celebration, employees are entertained by a bluegrass band and a mascot from the local baseball team, the Johnson City Cardinals, while they eat a picnic lunch. The main focus for the Summer Safety Celebration is the Health and Environment Fair. This fair hosts various health-related booths for employees such as blood pressure and cholesterol checking.