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VPP Programs Southwire Company Strives towards Achieving OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Star Status at Majority of Facilities before 2012


When Roy Richards, Sr. founded a wire and cable manufacturing business to help bring electricity to rural Carroll County, he had a particular customer in mind. Fresh out of the U.S. Army, Richards sought to run power lines to his grandmother’s home. Getting the lines there was no problem. Richards owned a construction company that erected poles and ran wire for utilities. At the same time, funding from the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was bringing the promise and convenience of electricity to much of the South.

The trouble was finding enough wire to carry current to rural areas. During a conversation with a wire manufacturer, Richards learned that it would be three years before the company could deliver wire to western Georgia. A company representative asked why Richards was in such a hurry, joking that farms in the area had operated for hundreds of years without power.

Richards’ stern reply brought his vision into clear focus.

“My grandmother is 85 years old, and she has never had the pleasure of sitting under an electric light in her own house,” he told the manufacturer. “She’s seen it two times she’s been to Atlanta, but she’s never had it.”

That pivotal moment marks the start of Southwire Company, which has grown into one of the world’s leading wire and cable manufacturers. Southwire employs 4,076 individuals in North America (including Mexico and Canada).

Today, half of the copper rod for electrical wire and cable is made using Southwire’s patented Southwire Continuous Rod (SCR) method. More than 50 years ago, Southwire was founded to help bring electricity to rural Georgia. Today, it supplies 135 of the nation’s top power companies, plus dozens of utility companies abroad and is pioneering new technology to better serve all of its wire and cable customers. Nearly a third of all homes in the United States contain Southwire’s building wire products.

Success Impact:

Southwire Makes Many Strides towards Promoting Workplace Safety and Health and Achieving OSHA VPP Star Status

Southwire Company is committed to protecting the environment and to ensuring the safety and health of their employees, customers, and the public. Employees at all levels are accountable for assuring safety and health requirements, which in many cases, exceeds all environmental, health and safety standards and regulations.
The company is pursuing Behavior Based Safety (BBS) implementation at all of their manufacturing and logistics facilities by the end of 2008.

Southwire remains committed to maintaining a strong relationship with OSHA and is committed to achieving OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Star Status at a majority of their facilities within the next four years. So far, Southwire’s Forte Power Systems site in Forte, Ala. obtained VPP Star status in June. The West Georgia Customer Service Center in Villa Rica, Ga. is scheduled for an onsite evaluation in October. In Georgia, the Carrollton Building Wire Plant is expecting its VPP onsite evaluation to be conducted in November. Evaluations also are planned at Southwire’s Energy Customer Service Center in Villa Rica in January and at the Carrollton Utility Products Plant sometime in the first or second quarter of 2009.

Southwire Reduces Injury and Illness Rates and Selected Facilities Receive Award of Excellence

As a result of their focus on strengthening safety initiatives, Southwire has seen a decrease in its lost-time-accident rate from .81 in 2005 to .18 through June 2008. Entities of Southwire facilities in GA that meet the Award of Excellence criteria are:
Southwire Watkinsville Plant (141 employees); Southwire Copper Rod Mill (86 employees); Southwire Flatwire Group (18 employees); Southwire Operational Support Group (150 employers) which includes the Southwire Cofer Center Group, Southwire Machine Services Group, Southwire General Services Group; and Southwire Energy Customer Service Center (12 employees).

Southwire Continues its Future Plans for Promoting Workplace Safety and Health

To fulfill Southwire’s commitment to excellence in safety, the company supports the following actions:
  • Continuing to embrace their Operational Perfection at Southwire Company (OPS). Safety is number one core principle of OPS: Avoiding injuries comes above everything else.
  • Expecting management’s efforts to be supported and strengthened by everyone’s active personal involvement, suggestions and ideas to keep their work place safety and healthy.
  • Relentlessly working to eliminate foreseeable hazards and unsafe practices by embracing BBS and VPP.
  • Recently signing a contract with a Learning Management System supplier to provide e-learning safety courses to improve their safety and health training and training tracking.
  • Pursuing green initiatives of reducing, reusing, and recycling by continuing to work toward a long-term goal of achieving zero-landfill status.
  • Assisting the community in numerous ways, including supporting programs such as 12 For Life and their Back-to-School Supply Giveaway.
  • Accessing their Employee Safety & Health program through OSHA’s VPP process and assisting government agencies in development of best practices. They will strive for ESH by focusing on the Leading Indicators and the listening to the voices of their employees and community.
For more information, contact:
Tony Randolph
VP Operational Support
Southwire Company
(770) 832-4678
(678) 378-1482

Origin: Region IV, Birmingham Area Office

Entered VPP: June 2008

Industry: Manufacturing (NAICS Code 3326)

Employees: 4,000+

Employers: 1

Source and Date: Lane Davis, Executive Director, Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (August 2008)