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Engineering controls, OSHA program help Fla. co. reduce injury, illness rates

OSHAA Florida metals manufacturer managed to bring its injury and illness rates from above industry averages to well below, after using OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program to identify hazards in its workplace.

The management of MI Metals, Inc. decided to contact OSHA in 2004 after hearing about the program through its workers who had worked previously at companies which used the services.  In 2003, the company’s facility in Oldsmar, Florida reported a Total Recordable Case rate (TRC rate) of 13.4. The company’s Days Away, Restricted, and/or Transfer rate (DART rate) was 3.6. That same year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average rates for the industry were 6.6 and 3.7 respectively.

A thick book of recommendations

A safety and health consultant from the University of South Florida (which administers the OSHA program in that state) conducted a comprehensive visit of the worksite, covering both safety andhealth hazards.

According to Brook Massey, president of MI Metals, the consultant "literally produced a couple-inch-thick book of recommendations."  An assortment of potential hazards were identified, including fall hazards, electrical hazards, machine guarding hazards and chemical hazards.

The MI Metals management was able to correct all identified hazards; primarily through engineering controls. Where possible electrical hazards were rewired and rebuilt, guards and shields were installed on machinery, and a fall protection system was engineered and installed for the truck loader.

By 2010, MI Metals was able to report significant safety operation improvements at its Oldsmar facility. That year, it recorded a TRC of 2.8, and a DART of 2.8. This rate was well below the industry average (5.5 and 3.3 respectively). The company also experienced benefits in other areas. In 2003, the year prior to contacting OSHA On-site Consultation, workers’ compensation premiums were $21,502; in 2010, the company’s premiums had dropped to $6,476.

In 2011 the worksite’s was accepted into OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system.

Serious about safety

According to Mel Mitchell, Safety Director JT Walker Industries, Inc., the holding company for MI Metals, "Since beginning to work with the Consultation Program we have seen a dramatic turnaround in every aspect of the safety program. Everyone in the company is now visibly involved. Incidents, both large and small, are investigated for root cause and action is taken to prevent recurrence. [When a hazard is] identified, action is taken immediately to address it before an injury can occur." The program provides "valuable guidance on programs, implementation, hazard reduction and sharing knowledge relating to what has and has not worked at other locations. Additionally, simply their presence in the facility sends a message to every employee that the company is serious about safety."

MI Metals employs 67 workers at the Oldsmar facility and 257 workers nationwide and supplies aluminum products for customers primarily in the construction industry.

The On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses, and is available to businesses in all U.S. states and most territories.

To request a free safety and health consultation or find an office in your area, visit OSHA's Consultation Program directory page or call 800-321-OSHA (6742).

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