ISSF 2016 Sustainability and Safety Award Winners

The International Stainless Steel Forum announced the winners of their two Premier Annual Awards during their Annual Conference in Helsinki on 25 and 26 May. The winner of the Sustainability Award is Outokumpu, for maximising water recycling in their Cold Rolling Plant in Mexico. The winner of the Safety Award is  North American Stainless, for their Safety Performance Improvement project.


San Luis Potosi, Mexico, where Outokumpu’s Mexinox cold rolling mill is located, is an arid area, where groundwater is a scarce and valuable asset for people and livestock. Reducing the volume of water which is required for their production increases the volume that can be used for other vital human needs.

The progression of water recycling at Mexinox has been based on long term projects. In 2001 the environmental regulations made it necessary to examine new ways to re-use and re-cycle water in their production processes.

This improvement process has continued during the intervening years. Among the most recent investments is a new Crystallizer plant, which was installed in 2013. This plant has resulted in savings in energy and money as well as providing additional environmental protection. CO2 emissions from this water treatment process decreased by 95%. Their investments in wastewater treatment plant processes have made water recycling significantly more efficient. The solution with high concentration of salts coming from the evaporation phase is heated in order to evaporate the water and to collect the waste material in crystal form. Today 99% of waste waters are treated, recycled and reused in cold rolling plant. This level is considered to be unique in the industry. To follow up on the progress, the plant has established yearly internal targets for water use in the mill. The savings in fresh water consumption are equivalent to the quantity consumed by 1,100 households. For 2015, fresh water consumption in the cold rolling mill was extremely low (1.22 m3/t) and well below the target (1.50 m3/t).

The plant has also achieved its target of saving water use on a per rolled ton of steel basis. “For us to continue recycling water is important because it allows us to contribute to environmental care as an organization. We fulfil the environmental regulations and give an example of social responsibility”, says Jorge Vieyra, head of production and environmental management at Mexinox.

A more detailed report on this project can be found on the worldstainless website. Click here.


In 2014 North American Stainless ended the year with 4.51 recordable injuries per million man hours worked and 1.13 lost time injuries. They recognized that greater employee engagement in safety programs could lead to further reductions‎ in injury levels. Some employees were hesitant to participate in safety programs and others seemed to feel that safety was not their responsibility. Management realized that they needed a greater level of involvement, input and participation from their employees to improve the safety process.

In order to achieve this goal, they did three things:

  1. They widened the Incident Reporting System to include Near Miss Reports and added a time limit to complete the reports (72 hours for high risk; 7 days for medium risk and 30 days for low risk); and
  2. They introduced a Behavioural Based Observation (BBO) Safety Program with all employees completing BBO’s; and
  3. Managers, Supervisors and Group Leaders began conducting safety talks every morning throughout the plant.

For 2015 their employees completed 19,628 BBO’s and 113 near miss reports. All near miss reports were investigated as if they had been an injury and alerts were distributed to all employees for review and discussion and any BBO’s that required follow-up were automatically entered into the Safety Review system.

Management noticed that employees have become much more aware when it comes to safety. If anyone enters the plant without the appropriate PPE, they will be stopped. Employees have become much more open with the Safety Coordinators and they raise issues and ideas about safety.

With the increased level of employee awareness and participation NAS have been able to significantly reduce their recordable and lost time injuries and they ended 2015 with a 0.93 Total Recordable Injury Rate and a 0.07 Lost Time Injury Rate, which is an outstanding improvement in safety performance after only one year.

A more detailed report on this project can be found on the worldstainless website. Click here

All of the entries which were received for these Awardshave been printed in a brochure which can be downloaded from the ISSF website. Click here.

Published 09/06/2016 10:44:27 Last Modified 09/06/2016 10:46:45

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