Puerto Rico manufacturer improves workplace safety, stays OSHA SHARP
A small mattress manufacturing operation in Puerto Rico has succeeded in updating and improving work practices, improving machine guarding, increasing employee participation in safety and health activities, and improving the safety and health management system already in place at the site with help from Puerto Rico Consultation Services, which performs local assessments and consults as part of federal OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program.
(Shown above: Simmons Caribbean Bedding employees with their SHARP plaque.)
Simmons Caribbean Bedding, Incorporated, located in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, is the Serta Simmons Bedding Corporation’s smallest site operating in the United States, and it employs about 20 people. This site was established in 1968.
The company began working with PR Consultation Services in 2007, when a reluctant Human Resources manager requested an occupational safety and health assessment. During the initial visit, the consultants identified noise; machine guarding; electrical; and slip, trip and fall hazards at the site. The consultants assisted Simmons Caribbean Bedding in making the changes listed above. Improvements made at the Puerto Rico facility were implemented at other sites throughout the corporation.
Once these improvements were made, Simmons Caribbean Bedding requested to participate in SHARP in 2008. The company was first approved to participate in SHARP in 2008. From 2008-2012, the company renewed its SHARP status three times. In 2012, one recordable incident, in combination with the reduction of hours worked, forced the company to temporarily suspend its participation, with every intention of making a prompt return. In 2013, Simmons Caribbean Bedding held true to their promise and commitment, requesting to participate in SHARP again, and their request was approved. Since 2013, Simmons Caribbean Bedding has continuously participated in SHARP, earning renewals of their SHARP status four times.
Shown at right: From left to right: Hilda Soto (Simmons Caribbean Bedding, Inc. Controller), Víctor Seda (PR OSHA On-Site Consultation Services consultant in charge of SHARP sites), and Angel Marcelo (Simmons Caribbean Bedding, Inc. Production Supervisor) receiving SHARP designation
Mattress manufacturing is classified as a high hazard industry, but effective implementation of their Safety and Health Management System has greatly helped the company stay below industry occupational injury and illness average rates, lower worker’s compensation premiums and claims, and create a dedicated and engaged workforce. From 2014 through 2017, this workforce experienced zero recordable injuries and illnesses.
Thanks to the Safety and Health Management System, Simmons Caribbean Bedding employees actively participate in safety and health committees, conduct hazard recognition activities, and perform job safety analyses. This committee recently evaluated a more effective way to guard the point of operation on the industrial sewing machines in the plant. They identified that light curtains could be installed at the looper areas on these industrial sewing machines to provide more effective guarding. These light curtains were installed on the machines (shown at right). Because of the success of these engineering controls, light curtains have been installed on all industrial sewing machines used throughout the Serta Simmons Bedding plants nationwide.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (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 PR Consultation Services 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. For those companies that operate exemplary safety and health programs, employers can participate in the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). 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.
Source: Angel Marcelo, Production Supervisor, Simmons Caribbean Bedding, Inc.