Julie Copeland, CEO of Arbill, the national safety distributor based in Philadelphia, is a board member of the National Manufacturers Association (NAM), which annually produces Manufacturing Day, so it’s no surprise Arbill sponsored one of more than 2,730 Manufacturing Day events on October 6, 2017.

Manufacturing Day started in 2012 to celebrate all things manufacturing, address concerns and challenges of manufacturers, and inspire careers in manufacturing. It was created by founding partner Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International (FAM), and is now produced by NAM. FAM, NAM, the Manufacturing Institute (MI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) help coordinate and promote the event.

Arbill’s event, which ran from 9:30 am to 2 pm, drew customers and prospects, and featured a supplier pavilion with displays from leading suppliers. A compliance assistance specialist with OSHA’s Philadelphia area office gave an update on agency activity, and ten suppliers each presented five-minute “flash” sales pitches on new products in a packed conference room at Arbill headquarters.

Optimistic about manufacturing growth

“We want to continue to elevate manufacturing,” Copeland said in welcoming remarks. “Manufacturing is the backbone of American industry. We’re optimistic about the outlook for growth in manufacturing. Arbill’s role is to the find the blind spots in customers’ safety programs and to bring best-in-class products and services to create the safest work environments that we can.”

She told the standing-room-only crowd: “We’re here to get you to zero injuries. Unfortunately not all companies are staffed in safety to get there.”

OSHA update

Jim Harrity, a 25-year OSHA vet, talked about the current shortfall in his area office’s staffing, which has seven compliance officers and should have 14. Being short-staffed, the office finds it difficult to do programmed inspections and prioritizes imminent danger inspections (receiving several calls a week) and fatality investigations (the office averages 10 to 14 each year). Seventy-five to eighty percent of the area office’s inspection are in the construction industry, because risks and violations are easier to see from the street, Harrity said. The Philadelphia area office usually averages 500-600 inspections per year, but with only half the number of allotted inspectors, only 250 inspections were conducted last year, he said.

Harrity said most fatalities in the Philadelphia area involve “crushed by” or “struck by” injuries; many caused by moving vehicles. He said this highlights the need for high-visibility clothing.

Harrity said “it’s business as normal” across federal OSHA, thought the agency’s chief of staff and top position — the assistance secretary of labor for OSHA — have not yet been filled. He gave updates on the silica in construction standard, electronic recordkeeping (which generated the most questions from the audience), the machine guarding national emphasis program aim to reduce amputations, changes in incident reporting requirements, and the new walking/working surfaces standard, which introduces personal fall protection equipment to general industry. “OSHA hasn’t operated any differently in 45 years,” he concluded, saying there was no need to have refresher training for OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour training courses.

Beyond products: Workplace solutions

Arbill’s main thrust to help workplaces get to zero injuries, which the distributor calls “your comprehensive workplace solution,” is titled, “SafetyCare.” SafetyCare is a bundle of components consisting of EHS managed services (OSHA compliance, safety training, audits, assessments, gap analyses); personal protective equipment; safety programs (involving products such as AEDs, Rx eyewear, rapid response first aid, dielectric glove testing, FR clothing, facility ID, heat stress monitoring and safety footwear that are supported with services); and safety technology (including predictive analytics that use various criteria to assess the workers who are most at-risk of accidents and injury).

“Many EHS staff departments are grossly understaffed and there is a lack of ownership for safety,” said Copeland, explaining the emphasis on a comprehensive bundle of products and services.

A paradigm shift

The distributor calls SafetyCare a “paradigm shift” in industrial safety by combining all the safety components described above into one package provided by one supplier. Arbill says “this approach not only assures that a comprehensive safety program will be created, but more importantly, it guarantees that there is total coordination on the implement of the plan.”

The plan begins with a site assessment. Copeland told the audience “we so confident about the SafetyCare program that we guarantee customers will reduce injuries by ten percent.”

A partial list of clients include: conEdison, Coca-Cola, AK Steel, Harley-Davidson and DuPont.

Arbill offers more than 60 OSHA compliance and safety training programs to go with the site assessments and audits. Its Vantage predictive analytics program captures and stores a variety of safety data and creates individual employee risk scores to identify workers with a greater potential to be injured and file a workers’ comp claim, based on an evaluation of 25,000 comp cases.

“There are clear bread crumbs that lead to a persona having a higher propensity for risk,” said Copeland.

“We know we can move the needle”

“Arbill want to come to you and conduct assessments and gap analyses, develop a plan based on assessments and analyses, select components of the plan , such as programs, technology and PPE, and then implement the plan,” she said. “We know we can move the needle; we know how we can reduce the number of injuries.”

Arbill was founded in 1945. Its’ Safety Symposium Manufacturing Day event was held under sunny skies and included an outdoor gourmet lunch for attendees, and a tour of the company’s headquarters and warehouse.