BorgWarner Earns Top Safety Awards
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WATER VALLEY – Employees at BorgWarner’s Water Valley plant celebrated two historic safety achievements during a ceremony last week after the local plant earned the company’s top safety award and received the Occupational Safety Health and Administration’s (OSHA) highest recognition for the practice of and commitment to exemplary occupational safety and health.
BorgWarner’s CEO Safety Excellence Award was awarded after employees at the Water Valley plant recorded one million hours without a recordable incident. The award places the local plant in an elite category within the global company, as only 30 percent of BorgWarner’s 60 manufacturing facilities in 18 countries within North and South American, Europe and Asia have ever received the distinction.
The second achievement, earning the coveted “Star” certification from OSHA, makes BorgWarner’s Water Valley plant one of 27 sites in Mississippi to earn the highest level of recognition offered through OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
The celebration last Wednesday afternoon opened with 2016 American Idol winner Trent Harmon singing the National Anthem as hundreds of employees gathered outside the building. Plant manager Ray Robertson introduced corporate officials making the trip to Water Valley including Dr. Volker Wenge, President and General Manager of BorgWarner Transmission.
“I am delighted to be here today with you to help celebrate your accomplishment in earning the BorgWarner CEO Safety Excellence Award,” Wenge told the crowd. “This is the highest recognition in the company for outstanding safety performance.”
Wenge also noted this is only the second time a BorgWarner plant has achieved the VPP Star status.
“You made it happen,” Wenge told the workers. “It is about daily discipline, daily behavior from everyone and not just a few people to follow the safety principles, wear the PPE and take care of each other. I would like to thank you on behalf of the whole company for outstanding behavior in terms of safety. Please continue, keep safety first in everything you do.”
OSHA Area Director Courtney Bohannon followed Wenge at the podium to announce the VPP Star certification.
“This is quite an achievement. This is one of the few solid measurements we have to determine how effective a safety health program is. You are to be commended for this achievement,” Bohannon said. He also explained that in order for companies to participate in the VPP, employees must submit an application to OSHA and undergo a rigorous onsite evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals.
“This team also looks very close as the level of commitment to safety and health by management. The team found that the managers at BorgWarner were indeed committed to employees and to a safe and healthy work environment,” Bohannon added.
Next on the program was the presentation of two large checks to charitable organizations after Senior Human Resource Manager Chris Byrd explained the BorgWarner provides $20,000 in honor of the CEO Safety Excellence Award.
“We have selected two very worthy recipients from our local area,” Byrd said as $10,000 checks were presented to the Baptist Children’s Village and Compassion Ministries.
Next Byrd announced the inaugural presentation of the Shirley Johnson Safety Award, a new award created to commemorate the former BorgWarner employee’s health and safety contributions to the Water Valley plant.
“Shirley Johnson worked at BorgWarner for over 20 years in various capacities before she passed away last year,” Byrd explained. “We wanted to commemorate Shirley in a way that would be ongoing and would recognize the passion she had for protecting the health and safety of the workers.”
With 32 nominations, Byrd added that selecting the winner was not an easy task.
“The winner of this year’s award started working at the Water Valley facility in 2006,” Byrd continued as he summoned Debbie Bennett to the podium for the award.
“She goes above and beyond to ensure that our employees have a safe and clean working environment. She was an integral member of the Safe Restart team in the spring and continues to support our Covid protocol,” Byrd said. “Her team has not experienced a recordable injury during her 14 years at BorgWarner. Her team received the highest safety score in the company’s Zero to Hero Safety Program in 2018.”