Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. employees set a new standard for safety in April, recording the lowest number of recordable incidents for one month in the company''s history. Likewise, the company has improved environmental quality at its Allenport, Pa., pickle line by implementing a new scrubber system that reduces emissions.

Improving Safety

"April''s performance, in which only 16 recordable incidents occurred, is the lowest ever recorded by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel," said Gary Ensell, corporate safety manager. "It is an improvement over the previous record of 17 recordable incidents, set in July 2000, and only the latest indication of our employees'' total commitment to safety."

Through the first four months of 2001, the company has had a total of 82 recordable incidents. On an annualized basis, that is an improvement of 40 percent over year 2000.

That followed reductions in total recordable accidents of 15 percent in 2000 when compared with 1999; and an improvement of 25 percent in 1999 when compared with 1998.

The American Iron and Steel Institute has ranked Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel as the safest steel company with 1,000 to 5,000 employees based on the company''s frequency rate for lost work day and restricted work day injuries during 2000.

"Our safety performance is a tribute to every Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel employee, and especially to the members of the joint management -- union safety committees who work in a spirit of cooperation to make our plants safe," said Daniel Keaton, senior vice president of human resources and public relations.

Frank Rico, president of Local 1223 echoed Keaton''s comments. "The company''s safety success happened because the members of the safety committees make a personal commitment to see that every person leaves the plant the same way they reported it. We all take the personal safety of everyone who works in the plants.

Improving the Environment

Wheeling-Pittsburgh installed a new scrubber system expected to remove 98 percent of the hydrochloric-acid fumes generated during the pickling process and designed to meet more stringent EPA regulations set to go into effect on June 22.

The $1.2 million wet-scrubber system replaced an old scrubber system that was not able to fully vent the hydrochloric fumes generated when steel coils pass the pickling baths.

"While the new scrubber is the most important quality improvement we''ve made at Allenport," said George Michener, plant manager, "it is only one of many changes that we have introduced during the past year. Management and labor have been working closely together to identify areas to improve quality and the environment and to implement those enhancements as quickly as possible."

Wheeling-Pittsburgh is the ninth largest domestic integrated steel producer in the United States. It has continued to operate all of its facilities since filing for Chapter 11-bankruptcy protection last November.

by Virginia Sutcliffe