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AK shareholders told safety above par at annual meeting

By Ted Pollard

Safety was a focus of remarks made Tuesday by AK Steel Corp.’s chairman and chief executive officer at the annual shareholders meeting.

Richard Wardrop told the gathering in Wilmington, Del., that for the first time in AK’s history “our OSHA total recordable injury rate for a quarter was under one ... in fact, it was well under one at 0.6.”

He noted that the average rate for all types of jobs and industries was 9.0.

“We were 20 times safer than the average of all primary metals companies,” Wardrop said.

The Department of Labor said “there were a few job categories in this country that had an injury rate as low as AK’s first quarter rate ... like bankers and stockbrokers.”

This, he said, “was verifiable proof that our goal of zero injuries is not only achievable but it’s within our reach.”

He singled out AK’s Butler (Pa.) operations for special safety praise, noting that the Butler Works led AK in the first quarter this year with “zero recordable injuries, a first in that plant’s 75-year history.”

Wardrop said the Middletown coke plant has also won safety honors and last Friday accepted the Max Edward Safety Award, presented each year to the safest coke plant in the industry by the American Coke and Coal Chemicals Institute. Employees at the Middletown coke plant have earned this award in four of the last five years.

“Even more amazing is the fact that they achieved this goal by working without a single recordable injury for the second consecutive year.”

He said the Middletown Works, AK’s largest plant, received praise from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, which cited the plant for having racked up 100 million hours without a lost-time injury.

Wardrop also took the occasion at the Hotel DuPont to mention AK’s success curve from 10 years ago when, as a private joint venture, it was faced with the task of

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fending off bankruptcy.

The company was ”on the verge of being booted out of every significant customer’s plant for one reason — poor quality and service,” he said.

“We changed that destiny,” Wardrop said, “not with fast talk and fancy footwork but with gritty determination. Just look at the evidence. Over the last eight years, AK employees have amassed the most prestigious array of quality and customer service awards in the industry.”

He said the firm has won such prestigious awards as the Ford Gold Award (second consecutive), Isuzu Subaru Award (fifth) and Dual Toyota Awards (eighth), all in addition to similar awards for AK’s specialty steels.



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