Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” originally appears in the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce’s weekly member e-newsletter. It is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.

Workplace safety must be a priority for employers and workers in every job-related setting imaginable. Industrial operations are especially safety-conscious and typically have programs that include active safety committees composed of employees and management.

For companies in Arkansas that successfully promote and excel in on-the-job safety, the state Department of Labor has a Safety Award Program with several award levels, based on accumulated years without a lost day away from work.

Wheeling Machine Products of Pine Bluff, part of a United States Steel Corporation subsidiary, was the recipient recently of a Two-Year Accumulative Safety Award from the labor department. The award ceremony was held April 21 at the plant, located at 5411 Industrial Drive South in Jefferson Industrial Park (the industrial neighborhood developed by the Jefferson County Industrial Foundation). The company makes various size couplings used to connect individual sections of oilfield casing and tubing.

Area Manager Ronnie Wilhite accepted the award plaque on behalf of Wheeling Machine Products, which was acquired by U.S. Steel in 2007. Since then, both employees and management have focused significant resources on safety, including joint participation on a safety committee.

The award recognized the efforts of 140 employees (associates) who accumulated two years without a lost day away from work due to a work-related injury or illness between January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2017.

“Safety is U.S. Steel’s primary core value,” says Wilhite. “The management team at Wheeling Machine Products is committed to the safety and well-being of our employees and making sure that our employees return home from work safely every day,” he added.

Making the award presentation was Ralph Hudson, deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Labor. Patricia Hart, director of the Health and Safety Division for Arkansas Workers Compensation, also participated.

More information about the state’s safety program can be found on the Department of Labor’s website, along with safety tips for employers and workers.