Safety is one of our Core Values, and our focus is ensuring everybody goes home safe and healthy every day. We believe all injuries are preventable. Schnitzer’s approach to safety is proactive, incorporating active leadership, as well as risk and hazard identification, management, and where possible, elimination. Creating a positive health and safety culture takes time and visible leadership that demonstrates care and concern for people’s health and safety.

At the end of fiscal 2020, Schnitzer completed the transition to a functionally based, integrated operating model that helps simplify and streamline processes across the Company. (Learn more here). This new structure provides for greater integration of the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) functions and operations, supporting improved sharing and adoption of best practices.

Strengthening our culture of safety means reinforcing safe behaviors and encouraging a sense of mutual accountability to make sure people look out for one another. Across our Company, ensuring a work environment that protects employees, contractors and visitors, and surrounding communities is our joint responsibility.

To support our One Schnitzer structure, we have rolled out a new EHS Information Management System. The system will provide a streamlined and uniform platform to record and track all incidents, corrective actions, root causes, audit findings, and more, related to EHS compliance. The platform enables greater use of mobile technology to capture and share EHS information.

Schnitzer’s health and safety policies and programs are based on leading industry practices and executed through the expertise of our health and safety team. Through industry organizations such as the ISRI and the Steel Manufacturers Association, we actively participate in dialogues regarding reporting standards, benchmarking, and sharing learnings from incidents.

Safety Performance

We track health and safety performance using industry standard metrics and work continuously to improve all aspects of our performance. We are proud to have recorded the lowest Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) in our Companyʼs history during fiscal 2020, which reflected a significant improvement over fiscal 2019, our previous best. We attribute this to the work weʼve done over the past several years to engage leaders and front-line employees in addressing the root causes of safety incidents. But there is more that we can and need to do. An analysis of Lost Time Injuries indicated over 54 percent were associated with handling, lifting, or other activities that resulted in muscle strains or overexertion. By educating our employees on proper work techniques such as safe lifting, avoiding twisting motions, completing warm-ups and stretching exercises to prepare for the workday, as well as redesigning jobs to reduce physiological impacts, we will continue to reduce injuries and incidents.

Our three-part safety strategy emphasizes prevention of serious injuries and fatalities, works toward achievement of zero injuries, and empowers employees to cultivate personal safety leadership. With zero injuries as our ultimate aspiration, we are working toward a near-term goal of a 1.00 TCIR by the end of fiscal 2025 (one recordable injury per 200,000 working hours).

Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR)

Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) Rate

Lost Time Incident Rate (LTIR)

Driving Safe in the Northeast

Congratulations to the drivers, service technicians, and leaders from Schnitzer facilities in Johnston, Rhode Island; Concord, New Hampshire; and Auburn, Maine, who earned ISRI’s Best Fleet Award—Small and Intermediate Class. The award was granted to ISRI members with the lowest vehicle accident rate and Department of Transportation severity rate for 2018 and 2019.

Serious Injury & Fatality (SIF) Prevention

We are committed to identifying, understanding, and controlling risks associated with hazards in the workplace. Everyone should return home safe and healthy every day. A Company-wide set of policies, operating procedures, and systems details accountabilities, controls, and minimum requirements for managing work-related health and safety risks, including elimination or mitigation of risks with the greatest potential to cause a serious injury or fatality. A very important focus for us is to prevent serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace. We started by conducting an in-depth analysis of all incidents occurring over a multi-year period and identified 14 Critical Risks throughout Schnitzer that pose the greatest risk to employee safety. The program defines a set of critical controls that are expected to be in place every time we undertake a task involving each risk. Site leaders perform frequent field-based observations to verify that the critical controls are in place and effective at the time the work occurs. Any deficiencies found during the verification must be addressed before resuming work. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the full rollout of the program, which will be completed in fiscal 2021.

For example, as vehicle handling is a risk in all our businesses, we have implemented measures such as a safe driving camera system for over-the-road truck drivers and are exploring the use of GPS technology to track all vehicles at a facility, using data to optimize traffic flow and minimize interaction between pedestrians and trucks. A risk unique to Cascade Steel is molten metal, so we have created a “molten metal pathway” to keep employees, visitors, and vendors safe. When a melt is occurring, people must clear the area for their safety. Signage, floor markings, lights, and alarms send a clear signal to anyone present to move to a safe area.

For each task with high SIF potential, we establish controls to reduce or eliminate risk. These controls range from administrative to engineering aspects, such as how we set up areas for our torching and cutting activities, to machine guards to separate our employees from rotating equipment. Our front-line employees are empowered to stop work and speak to a supervisor at any time if a control is missing or ineffective. For leaders, reducing SIF potential means engaging teams to identify critical risks and verify that controls are in place. During fiscal 2021, we are rolling out additional training to further educate employees on the critical risks they may face on the job and reiterate the necessary controls to help keep them safe.

Beyond reducing individual injuries and fatalities, an important goal of this work is to create a shared learning environment that improves safety throughout the Company. We thoroughly investigate all incidents and incorporate any lessons we learn, knowing that accidents and near-misses rarely occur in isolation. Therefore, when we make a process improvement at one facility, we often make the same change at other facilities to stop potential incidents in their tracks.

Working Toward Achieving Zero Injuries

Our journey to zero focuses on the elimination, mitigation, and control of the most critical risks across Schnitzer. We start this journey by instilling in our employees the understanding that production is never more important than safety. This expectation is set during the initial on-boarding of every new Schnitzer employee and continually reinforced through daily safety huddles, layered safety observations (LSO), and monthly EHS town halls. These tools allow us the opportunity to positively influence the behavior of employees through engagement and coaching on acceptable behaviors. Reporting systems and monitoring processes allow us to ensure our controls are effective and that we are on track to meet our goals. Our stance is proactive, focusing on leading, rather than lagging, indicators as a measurement of our safety performance.

We utilize Field-Level Risk Assessments (FLRAs) to assist our employees in identifying hazards and managing risk. To complete an FLRA, employees break down the steps of the task to identify potential risks or hazards and then document the controls needed to complete the work safely.

To continuously evolve and improve our safety culture, we require that all incidents be investigated to determine the root cause and contributing factor(s). We then implement corrective actions and shared learnings to prevent similar incidents from occurring at other facilities.

Working toward zero incidents and injuries also requires adopting a holistic view of occupational health. This includes informal actions, such as speaking to employees and assessing if they are mentally and physically ready for work. If an employee appears to be in distress or unfit for work, we offer a 24-hour medical line for employees to speak with a registered medical professional.

Each morning our employees conduct stretch and flex exercises. Elimination of workplace injuries is a multi-faceted program that includes identifying hazards, implementing engineering and administrative controls, and stretching to reduce physical demands of manual handling and the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders.

Where employees face particular risks due to exposure to heat and potentially hazardous materials, a formal wellness program helps keep health and safety top of mind. Respirators and showers are provided to protect workers from potential lead exposures during the steelmaking process. In addition, we provide resources to encourage proper stretching to create an ergonomic work environment that reduces the potential for sprains, strains, or overexertion. As part of a pilot program, we have engaged a physical therapist to develop role- and task-specific exercises to help prevent ergonomic injuries.

Injury-Free Facilities
(Percentage of facilities with no recorded injuries)

Lost Time-Free Facilities
(Percentage of facilities with LTIR of zero)

Personal Safety Leadership

The last and most important pillar of our safety strategy is Personal Safety Leadership. We cannot sustain our safety improvements without engaging all employees at every level and making this a true team effort. This pillar empowers employees to take accountability for their own safety and the safety of their coworkers.

To build empowered teams, leaders from all levels of Schnitzer spend time in the field engaging with employees about safety. Our leaders are responsible for verifying that our critical controls and our health, safety, and environmental procedures are working as intended. Through these engagements, we encourage positive behaviors and practices and identify at-risk behaviors and opportunities to improve our processes and practices.

During fiscal 2020 we have focused on:

  • Embedding the practice of conducting quality LSOs
  • Improving overall housekeeping standards
  • Identifying learnings from critical incidents and implementing best practices

We are committed to learning from and sharing best practices with others. We actively participate in programs to improve our performance as members of the ISRI Health and Safety roundtable.

One way that managers engage their teams is through LSOs. During an LSO, managers at multiple levels observe a worker performing a task. After the task is complete, the employee and managers have a conversation during which they discuss potential hazards involved in the task and controls that have been put in place. Managers may offer constructive feedback, and employees have the opportunity to share their own concerns or suggestions for further improvement. We expect every facility manager across Schnitzer to conduct at least one LSO per week.

In fiscal 2020, we analyzed LSO data that had been collected at our steel mill. After reviewing the findings of hundreds of LSOs, we identified ways in which we can improve the LSO process, make the data more actionable, and ultimately reduce hazards and injuries in our workplace. LSOs and enhanced training for front-line supervisors are critical tools we utilize in our pursuit of an injury-free workplace. In fact, through the use of these tools, 72 of our facilities were injury-free in fiscal 2020.

An Attractive Safety Solution

Cascade Steel and Scrap recently installed magnetic cranes in a warehouse that is used to store finished steel products. In the past, employees attached chains from overhead cranes to bundles of steel, creating the potential for pinch point and ergonomic injuries. The magnetic system removes workers from the crane’s area of operation, using a lock-out/tag-out system as a further safeguard.