Ten. Six. Zero. Those are important numbers for a Utah animal feed manufacturer Balchem Corporation. The company recently celebrated ten years in OSHA’Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, and six years of maintaining an annual recordable injury and illness case rate of zero. That last accomplishment resulted in reductions in its worker compensation insurance premiums.

Pictured above: Back Row (Left to Right): Brandon Evans, Kenneth Burt, Andrew Christiansen, Alix Long, Richard Humphries, Andrew Higgins; Front Row (Left to Right, holding the banner): Quinn Morrill, Ashley Perry, Rebecca Taylor.

Balchem worked with the Utah Division of Occupational Safety and Health (UOSH) to improve the safety and health program at its Salt Lake City facility. Besides correcting all of the hazards identified by the state’s On-Site Consultation Program, the company implemented a staff committee to conduct regular safety audits and facility inspections.

Company Description

Balchem Corporation produces chelated minerals for animal feed products which are included in feed premixes for production and companion animals. The Balchem Salt Lake City facility, serves the Animal Nutrition and Health segment of the corporation.

The Situation

During a walkthrough of the Salt Lake City facility, OSHA On-Site Consultation safety and health consultants identified several hazards, such as poorly marked rails, missing demarcation lines in aisles, missing gate on a mezzanine, doors not properly labeled, deficient eye and face personal protective equipment, and exposed knock-out in an electrical panel. The consultants also identified unorganized and cluttered areas that could pose strain, sprain, or fall hazards. Balchem Corporation management anticipated it would be a challenge to correct many of the hazards and implement initiatives identified during the On-Site Consultation visit. However, working with the (UOSH), the management and employees of Balchem discovered the benefits of the Utah Labor Commission Consultation Services program, which offered additional expertise and support. This program offered not only a partnership but a shared common goal to improve the workplace safety and health conditions of all employees.

The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies, such as Utah Labor Commission Consultation Services, 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.

Besides correcting all of the initial hazards identified by the UOSH consultation team, Balchem implemented a safety staff committee to conduct regular safety audits and facility inspections. Balchem discovered that participating in the consultation process exposed their safety team to the methodology of surveying operational health and safety comprehensively.

The Solution

After the On-Site Consultation visit, Balchem management focused on safety through organizing and engaging all employees to ensure an ongoing quality program. Even though it seemed challenging for the company to engage in the undertaking of implementing a sustainable safety program, the Balchem Salt Lake City facility was able to accomplish this goal with the knowledge and skills gained through the UOSH consultation process.

The Balchem Corporation is now determined to have all of their facilities pursue OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) recognition. SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used the OSHA no-cost and confidential On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement that identifies a facility as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers.

The Impact

Balchem first observed the impact of working with the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program through their improved safety records. Some of their successes included improved injury and illness rates. Since 2012, the Salt Lake City facility continues to have a zero Days Away/Restricted/Transfer (DART) rate and a zero Total Recordable Case (TRC) rate annually as a testament to their continual efforts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the national average TRC rate for this industry was 4.48, and the average DART rate was 2.82 from 2012 to 2016. (NOTE: 2016 is the most current year BLS DART and TRC data are available.) Maintaining low DART and TRC rates has a positive impact on reducing worker compensation insurance premiums. Moreover, Balchem Corporation developed a greater awareness of root cause investigation techniques and improved their ability to correct hazards that were identified following incidents and/or near-miss events.

Balchem Corporation purchased the Salt Lake City facility from Chelated Minerals Corporation in 2006. At that time, the facility had an Environmental Health and Safety Program that met annual corporate inspection criteria but Balchem Corporation was not satisfied and pursued SHARP recognition. The SHARP model guided the facility in establishing a well-rounded focus on organizational safety first at the individual and local level then corporate-wide. In August 2009, Balchem Corporation of Salt Lake City was approved to participate is SHARP for the first time, and the company has continuously maintained this status.

To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit www.osha.gov/consultation.

Source: Andrew Higgins, Project One - Core Team Lead, Manufacturing, Balchem Corporation