EHS Management

How’d They Do It? Small Business Safety Success Stories

Yesterday we discussed the likelihood that small businesses will experience more workplace injuries and illnesses than larger companies. Today we will look at some small business safety success stories. The common denominator for these successes is that the companies took advantage of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) On-Site Consultation Program, which offers free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to small- and medium-sized businesses.

number one in safety

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One Word—Plastics

A plastic container manufacturer in Wisconsin reduced its injuries rate by 90% while, at the same time, doubling the size of the company.

Schoeneck Containers, Inc. (SCI) hired its first safety professional in 2000. In 2003, the safety facilitator contacted OSHA On-Ste Consultation Program through the Wisconsin Safety and Health Consultation Program. Two WisCon consultants conducted a walk-through of the facility. They worked with SCI to reduce the noise level through engineering solutions and updated the lockout/tagout program. The consultants also evaluated the managers’ roles and responsibilities in relation to safety practices.

In 2004, SCI was included in OSHA’s Safety and Health Recognition Program (SHARP), which recognizes small business employers that have used OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary injury and illness prevention program. (SHARP requires that the employer have injury and illness rates below the national average for their industrial classification.)

Tunnel Vision

Jenmar Corporation of Utah is a family-owned business that develops and manufactures ground control products designed to make mining and tunneling safer and more efficient. They have participated in SHARP since 2005 when they implemented a management-based approach to safety.

Jenmar claims success with improving consistent and effective training and new program implementation. In addition, what happens at one plant is carried through to all facilities as best practices. Employee involvement has increased with employees bringing new improvement ideas, safety concerns, and feedback to management. One way Jenmar has improved upon its corrective/preventive action and abatement process is by giving specific time frames for completion of action items from audits and incident investigations.

The numbers tell the story best. As a result of their management-based safety approach, the company has had a 60% reduction over the years in incidence rates of total recordable rate (TRR), and a 62% reduction days away, restricted, or transferred (DART) rate (using 2005 as the base year).

Metalmaker Moves on Safety

Innovance, a holding company for three metal and machinery fabricators in Minnesota, contacted the Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) Workplace Safety Consultation (WSC) for assistance. A WSC consultant conducted a hazard survey at the company’s facility where a majority of its worker injuries were occurring.

As a result of the consultation, the company developed a safety committee composed of employees from all levels of the organization and management representatives. In addition, Innovance offered incentives for participation in a near-miss/safety suggestion reporting program; provided hazard recognition training annually; and documented noncompliance issues, assigned corrective actions, and completed follow-up studies. Other efforts included a monthly inspection program where different employees participated, a root-cause analysis program, and a change analysis and preventive maintenance program. Innovance also partnered with outside agencies, such as the local fire department and an insurance company, to perform inspections of the facility. They also host an annual corporate safety committee meeting where the safety and health management system was critiqued and improvements were designed.

All three of the company’s locations have since achieved Minnesota SHARP status.

Key Takeaway for EHS Managers

Getting your workers to buy in to your safety program can be tough. According to Innovance’s environmental, health, and safety (EHS) coordinator, the most challenging aspects in building a companywide safety culture were making sure the employees feel comfortable reporting hazards, making safety suggestions, and participating in hazard recognition.

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