An Arkansas cold storage company reduced its annual workers compensation costs by about $175,000 after using OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program to improve its workplace safety and health practices.

Zero Mountain Inc., which provides transportation logistics, cold-storage warehousing, and dry-storage warehousing services, was experiencing over 40 worker compensation claims per year.

Identifying hazards

The first program consultant visit to the company’s Fort Smith facility was conducted in 2003. Hazards noted during the consultant's walk-around included insufficient or missing machine guarding; problems with electrical systems; inaccurately labeled chemicals; and inadequate written safety and health policies, procedures, and other documentation. The company corrected hazards and implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system, experienced a positive safety culture change, and lowered the injury and illness rates.

The changes led to a two-year decrease of worker compensation premiums, from $274,696 to $175,559. This decrease resulted in a lower workers compensation modifier rate, leading to an even further reduction in the Workers Compensation Insurance premium to $99,708. Experience modifiers for 2012, 2013, and 2014 were 0.99, 0.73, and 0.59 respectively. Only $205 was paid out for worker compensation claims between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015.

At the Fort Smith facility, the company has worked 12 years with no days away from work losses. For comparison, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the industry average days away from work, job transfer, or restriction rates were 5.4 in 2012, 5.2 in 2013, and 5.2 in 2014 (the most current periods for which these data are available).

Additionally, Zero Mountain was accepted into OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.

Free advice

OSHA's On-site Consultation Program services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. This program offers free, confidential safety and health advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country and several territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

Additional information about the OSHA On-site Consultation Program is available at or 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).