Focus on safetyA Longview, Washington company is citing a “safety first” management philosophy and a company-wide change in culture for the dramatic improvement in safety shown in a recently released sustainability report.

Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging, Inc., a high-capacity kraft paper mill with a regional network of corrugated container plants, says 2011 was its safest year. The mill reached more than a million safe hours worked in February of 2012.

In 2006, Longview had a recordable incident rate of 8.6. The rate fell to 1.57 in the end of 2011. That trend has continued; at the end of the first quarter of 2012 it was under 1.00. The incident rate has been reduced by 27 percent since 2010, helping the company’s operating units to a better incident rate than the industry average.

Two locations within the company’s container plant network have also set site records. Cedar City, Utah, reached six years without a recordable injury, in March 2012, and the company’s box plant in Longview, Wash., achieved more than 1,000 safe days into the second quarter of 2012.

Company president Randy Nebel attributed the change in part to a focus on leading indicators. “As the number of incidents decrease, we are looking more at contributing factors, such as the identification of hazards and behaviors that are precursors to incidents.”

Some of the company’s safety initiatives include:

  • A safety resources department that includes specialists in ergonomics
  • Safety committee members from each department who participates in monthly area safety committee meetings
  • Safe Start training in which employees are taught how to think of their mental state before and during their jobs (rushing, frustration, fatigue, complacency)
  • Employees being encouraged to submit hazard IDs for potentially unsafe conditions in the workplace
  • Courage to Care, a type of peer-to-peer interaction in which employees are urged to speak to a fellow worker who is seen doing something in an unsafe manner
  • A wellness program that reimburses employees for gym memberships and offers a pre-work stretching program, a free on-site massage therapist and active release technician and an on-site nurse who conducts hearing exams, among other things.
  • Free PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), like safety glasses, vests and hard hats and hearing protection

“What really drives everything is that there has been a culture change at Longview, with both management and employees expecting to be safe, and finding ways to make that happen,” according to a statement from the company.

Nebel said the safety milestone is particularly significant because of the size of the operation. “Our mill is the largest pulp and paper mill in the western region of the United States, in terms of total capacity.”

The sustainability report can be found on the company’s website,

Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging, Inc. produces light-weight, high-performance multiwall, complementary specialty kraft papers, containerboard and corrugated boxes. The company operates a pulp and paper mill at Longview, Wash., and a network of seven converting plants in the western United States.