Like many small businesses starting out, SigmaPro Engineering and Manufacturing, LLC had a safety program in place, but they were unsure if it met all of the state and federal requirements. The small electronic connector manufacturing facility in northern Fort Worth, Texas found the Texas Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program (OSHCON) on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website and set up a consultation with a Texas OSHCON safety consultant in their area. The initial OSHCON visit to their main facility was conducted in 2015.

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 the Texas Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program (OSHCON), or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

During the initial walkthrough in the summer of 2015, the OSHCON consultant identified several hazards that needed correction. However, overall the consultants were impressed with the facility, existing safety program, and motivation of the management team. Over the next year, the company challenged itself to work hard to refine the safety program and strived to achieve OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) status. This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary safety and health programs. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles the company out among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.

The Solution

The OSHCON consultant recommended improving their accident, incident, and root cause analyses program; creating goals and objectives each year; including safety as a key measure in employee performance evaluations; and letting hourly employees steer decision-making in regard to safety. Following the consultant’s advice and working diligently on issues raised in their first walkthrough, SigmaPro earned SHARP status in 2016. Since that time, they added their neighboring facility to the SHARP in early 2018. The company has continued to expand and is looking to earn SHARP status for a third facility soon.

The company has always focused on having every employee, from hourly to executive management, involved in the safety program. Hourly employees are tasked with conducting audits and inspections, training their coworkers, and voicing their opinions on safety committees. Coupled with this, management is responsive to employees’ safety needs, responds quickly, and makes changes as appropriate.

The Impact

SigmaPro has worked closely with OSHCON since 2015 and has used many of its other resources, such as follow-up and training visits. These resources ranged from consultants coming back to the facility to review lockout/tagout procedures to conducting a Townhall Meeting discussing active shooter emergencies.

Gaining SHARP status has enhanced incident and first aid reporting and increased employee involvement. SigmaPro continues to maintain a low injury rate. Between 2015 and 2017, the company worked over 550,000 hours. The main facility achieved a total recordable case (TRC) rate of 0.4 and days away, restricted, or transfer (DART) rate of zero. Their second facility has recorded a TRC and DART rate of zero since opening. From 2015 through 2017 for NAICS code 334417, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the industry average TRC rate was 1.64, and the industry average DART rate was 1.04. [Note: For 2018, SigmaPro’s TRC and DART rates remained at zero; BLS injury and illness data for 2018 is not available at this time.]

On-Site Consultation and SHARP are voluntary programs. To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit /consultation.

Source: Joe Crowson, Texas OSCHON Safety Consultant