Magna Seating Wins Kovach Safety Leadership Award

HOWLAND TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Lordstown Seating Systems division of Magna Seating received the 10th annual Joan Kovach Safety Leadership Award Wednesday.

Betsy Antenucci Kuhn, executive vice president of Antenucci Inc., Warren, presented the glass trophy to Jennifer Darnell, human resources manager of Magna Seating, during the Mahoning Valley Safety Council annual luncheon at Leo’s Ristorante. Antenucci won the Kovach Award last year.

Recognized for maintaining safe workplaces were 141 businesses, school districts and municipalities in the Mahoning Valley, 10 of which received awards in all three categories: 100%, group and achievement.

They are Blakeman’s Valley Office Equipment Inc., ClarkDietrich Building Systems, Edan Management Co. Inc., Gasser Chair Co. Inc., Home Savings and Loan Co., Magna Seating, PsyCare Inc., Simco Management, Valley Industrial Trucks Inc. and VEC Inc.

The achievement award goes to each company that decreases its incident rate by at least 25% the previous year.

The group award goes to the company with the lowest incident rate in each employer category.

And the special award goes to each company that accumulates at least 500,000 hours and at least six months without a lost-time injury, explained Karen M. Stacy, executive director of the leadership and safety programs administered by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber.

Twenty-three companies earned a special award, Stacey said, the largest number since the safety council began issuing them.

Magna has been striving to win the Kovach Award since it opened its factory in 2004 to build seats for the Chevrolet plant in Lordstown, Darnell said. Keeping her remarks brief, she simply said, “We are truly honored and can’t thank you enough.

Runners up were Austinwoods Health Care Center, Berk Enterprises, Kirila Contractors Inc. and Prout Boiler Heating & Welding Inc.

Afterward, Darnell elaborated on the efforts Magna Seating has taken to ensure the safety of its 320 employees at 1702 Henn Parkway SW. “We are very safety-oriented,” she began, which is reflected in no employee sustaining an injury in the last nine months. “We haven’t had a lost-time claim in seven years,” Darnell added.

“Our main focus is ergonomics,” the director of human resources said, because work at the plant “is upper-body intensive. We have conducted an ergonomic risk assessment for every station.”

Much of the work is repetitive, so Magna assigns an employee to more than one station during a workday so they’ll use different sets of muscles, Darnell said.

“We have a joint [management-employee] health and safety committee and a joint ergonomics committee,” she said. The committees meet at least monthly and often twice a month. “We have quarterly ergonomic audits,” Darnell noted, “and a health and safety audit,” and on the most recent the plant scored 99%.

“Our DART [days away restricted and transferred] score is zero,” Darnell reported, and the employees undergo annual training in Occupational Health and Safety Administration standards.

“We’re looking to celebrate in June,” she concluded, not just the Kovach Award, but the high achievements in safety.

The employment management supervisor of the Youngstown office of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, David Constantino, reported, “The Mahoning Valley has the worst return-to-work percentage in the state,” a distinction he was at a loss to explain in an interview after the luncheon.

“I don’t know why,” he said. It’s not because the injuries workers suffer are more severe, take longer to heal or require more or more treatment. And it’s not because physicians are taking longer to process paperwork.

The Youngstown district, he pointed out, is only 3% below the state average. Constantino raised the issue, he explained, “because we want to get every employer involved” and because his office is ready to send a BWC consultant to help employers get their injured employees back to health and returned to work.

Companies can receive up to 10% discount on the premiums they pay when they take advantage of the BWC programs created to help employees return to work sooner.

Pictured: Jennifer Darnell, human resources manager of Magna Seating, accepts the top award at the Mahoning Valley Safety Council annual luncheon Wednesday.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.