Working around molten metals at temperatures of 1,300 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, employees of T&L Foundry in Glenpool, Oklahoma load metal melting furnaces, form molds for pouring metal into, and finish the final product using grinders and tumble blasters. It is a high-hard industry.

The family-owned foundry - which produces non-ferrous castings, ranging from only a few ounces up to 1,000 pounds – was already dedicated to employee safety, but decided to do more.

"This is our family here at T&L. We want to protect them and make sure they have a safe place to work; they are all family," said Brenda Cunningham, HR/Safety Manager at T&L Foundry, Inc.

What they  did

T&L contacted Oklahoma OSHA Consultation Services, which is a unit of the Oklahoma Department of Labor, which helps businesses meet the Federal OSHA health and safety regulations. OSHA's completely voluntary 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 work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

The initial T&L Foundry OSHA Consultation Service visit was conducted in 2008. Hazards noted during the consultant's walk-around included insufficient or missing machine guarding, personal protective equipment issues, and problems with electrical systems.

How they did it

The company corrected all of the hazards that the consultant found and continued to work with the Oklahoma consultants to improve its workplace safety processes and polices.

T&L Foundry employees became more involved in their own safety with the use of a safety committee. This committee includes people from all levels of the organization. The HR/Safety Manager continued to develop a comprehensive safety program that included employee training, open communication, and individual accountability. A key part to their success involves the accident/near miss reporting mechanisms, job hazard analyses, and refresher training. All the effort culminated in a positive safety culture.

For the 5th consecutive time, the company has achieved the OSHA Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award with the help of the Oklahoma Department of Labor - OSHA Consultation Service.

(Above: T&L Foundry team celebrates earning their 5th OSHA Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program award designation.)

Bill Covington,CEO/Owner and Cunningham have instilled the use of safe work practices with unwavering commitment to ensure the employees go home safe each day. Management has worked with the Oklahoma DOL On-Site Consultation Service consultants in reviewing their safety program and employee training programs to reinforce their safety commitment to employees. Each year, T&L has shown exemplary commitment to safety. The management group includes not only Bill and Brenda, but Stan Brown, Production Manager; Tony Chadwick and Eric Covington, Assistant Production Managers; Denton Cornelison, Special Projects Manager; along with Supervisors: Ronny Witt, Ambers Bales, and Ronald Hughes.

The results

Since August 21, 2014, no recordable injuries have occurred. Since that time they have prevented numerous injuries and saved several thousand dollars. In contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the industry average Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) rate for NAICS code 33152, Non-Ferrous Metals Foundries, was 7.6. In 2015, the national average TRC was 6.1; in 2016 it was 6.3. National average Days Away from Work, Job Transfer and Restriction Rate (DART) rate was 4.7 for this NAICS code in 2014. In 2015, BLS found the industry average DART rate was 3.5, and in 2016, it was 4.3.

Over the last several years, the Workers Compensation insurance premium has dropped from $249,000 to $69,000.

In response to recommendations provided by the Oklahoma DOL On-Site Consultation Service consultants, management formed a stronger bond with employees, increased awareness inspections, maintained safety programs, and saved a couple hundred thousand dollars in direct cost. "Everyone working here is not afraid to speak up and say ‘hey we need to look at this’ or ‘hey would this be safer,’" said Cunningham. "We have developed relationships with everyone, so they can ask questions and make suggestions."

T&L Foundry was founded in 1960 by E.L. Covington. It is now run by Bill Covington. The Covingtons believe in quality castings at a fair price.