Keeping Focused on Safety | Steel King Industries, Inc.

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Keeping Focused on Safety

Posted on Jun 16, 2023

Safety is a year-round focus for industrial sector companies and other businesses, but the focus gets special emphasis each June, including at Steel King Industries, which is recognizing National Safety Month this month.

Ashley Placek, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at Steel King talks about safety equipment with a Steel King employee.

This year, the National Safety Council is encouraging a focus on emergency preparedness; reducing slips, trips and falls; reducing heat-related illnesses; and hazard recognition. In 2021 there 4.26 million work-related injuries that required medical attention in 2021, the most recent year figures are available for.

“We emphasize safe operating practices and a safe work environment every day of the year,” notes Ashley Placek, Environmental, Health and Safety Manager at Steel King. “But it’s good to set aside time to raise awareness and to celebrate successes.”

Employees at each of Steel King’s three locations were asked to make a safety pledge and dedicate their pledge to someone in their life who is the reason for them being safe each day at work. They also are encouraged to wear green the third week of the month as part of the “Go Green for Safety” campaign, which is part of the National Safety Council’s initiatives this year. Treats to celebrate safety successes will be available for employees.

In the safety pledge, workers are asked to actively help improve safety programs, report hazardous conditions and situations promptly, suggest solutions to hazardous situations, and to be a good safety roll model.

Placek – a Certified Safety Professional – joined Steel King in December after serving in safety roles at other companies since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2005. At UW-Stevens Point, she earned a bachelor of science degree in Health Promotion with a minor in safety and health protection. Safety wasn’t necessarily a field she had intended to make a career out of, but a professor inspired her to follow that path, and she’s enjoyed it ever since. “I really enjoy what I do, and I appreciate that companies like Steel King recognize the value of safety,” said Placek.

Steel King presented her with opportunities to continue to learn, and to travel, as she rotates her time between the Stevens Point headquarters, and facilities in New London, Wis., and Rome, Ga. In those visits, she handles everything from safety training to equipment audits to walk-throughs, serving on the safety committee and ensuring environmental compliance.

“Steel King holds safety as a top priority and that has been very evident since I’ve joined the company,” Placek said. “The plant managers, supervisors and safety teams bring forward questions and concerns, and are always looking to make improvements to make sure safety is part of every process.”

She also appreciates the employees’ respect for safety measures, and that they are comfortable talking with her about safety and about asking for insights on how their processes can be done in the safest manner. That goes for long-time employees as well and newer people who all need to be on the same page when it comes to safety.

She notes that safety has demonstrable results, including the health of employees, reductions in lost work time, and lower Worker’s Compensation rates.

Her advice to others starting out in the safety field? Learn the product and the business as much as possible before trying to implement significant changes in procedures, and earnestly listen to people. And strive to take a collegial approach rather than being the “safety cop.”

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