Technology Conservation Group Reduces Injuries and Illness after Working with On-site Consultation (2/29/2012)
Technology Conservation Group (TCG) in Lecanto, Florida had always strived to create and maintain safe working conditions for its workers, and even had an existing environmental safety and health program in place at the worksite. However, in 2005, TCG’s injury and illness rates were slightly above the industry average. After working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) On-site Consultation Program in Florida, the company was able to significantly improve its injury and illness incidence rates in addition to its safety and health management system (SHMS) to such an extent, that the company was recognized in OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) in 2006. SHARP recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary SHMS. Acceptance of a company into SHARP is an achievement of recognition that singles out the company among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health. “When it comes to achieving SHARP success,” says TCG President, Hamilton Rice, “it’s not about one person. It takes everybody to make this happen.” Rice continued, “The On-site Consultation Program has raised the profile of safety and health within our organization, and we are extremely proud of the fact that our Florida facility has achieved OSHA SHARP [recognition].” As of 2012, other TCG facilities have become inspired to follow the lead of the Lecanto facility.
TCG has its corporate headquarters in Lecanto, Florida. TCG (NAICS 562920, Materials Recovery Facilities) is a total recycler of electronic scrap, by-products and other technological products.
In 2005, TCG reported that their Days Away, Restricted, and/or Transfer (DART) rate was 5.88. DART measures the number of recordable injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time employees that resulted in days away from work, restricted work activity and/or job transfer and is a tool used to assess the degree to which workers are exposed to hazards in a company or industry. For comparison, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average DART reported by other companies in NAICS 562920 was 5.1 in 2005. While TCG had an existing environmental safety and health program, the company’s management was determined to improve efforts to protect its workers.
TCG first learned of the OSHA On-site Consultation Program in 2005, when a company representative attended a safety conference in Orlando, Florida. In March 2005, management at TCG decided to address workplace safety concerns and requested a safety and health consultative visit from OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program. This federally funded program, which offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses, is available to businesses in all U.S. states and several territories. In Florida, the On-site Consultation Program is administered by the University of South Florida (USF) through its “USF SafetyFlorida” program. According to Neil Lukey, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Manager at TCG’s Lecanto facility, “It really was a ‘no-brainer’ to utilize this fantastic resource to improve health and safety within the company. In addition, we wanted to improve the health and safety program at the facility and also wanted to get recognition for our firm commitment to health and safety within the company.”
During the initial walkthrough of the Lecanto facility in April 2005, the USF SafetyFlorida consultant who worked with TCG to educate them on the benefits of consultation, identified several hazards related to electrical safety and compressed air piping. These were remedied immediately after the audit. In addition, USF SafetyFlorida assisted TCG with developing a SHMS, which includes a Corrective and Preventive Action system for addressing all non-compliance issues that are identified. TCG built on the advice provided by the USF SafetyFlorida consultant and implemented a “5 Whys Root Cause Analysis” (RCA) as well as a verification of effectiveness system. The practice of RCA is based on the belief that problems are best solved by attempting to address, correct or eliminate root causes, as opposed to merely addressing the immediately obvious symptoms. By directing corrective measures at root causes, it is more probable that problem recurrence will be prevented.
The USF SafetyFlorida consultant recommended TCG pursue recognition in SHARP. “At first, management and employees did not understand the significance of the SHARP,” says Debra Jackson, TCG’s EHS administrator, “but once the benefits of earning SHARP were explained by the consultant, everyone was on board.”
According to Neil Lukey, “The main challenges that we identified while improving the SHMS have been keeping the momentum moving forward. We have conquered this challenge by using improvement goals as part of the continual improvement requirements of our Quality, Environmental, Health and Safety (QEHS) Management System. Additionally, health and safety performance is reported to Corporate on a monthly basis as well as during our quarterly Management Review. This has really kept the profile of our QEHS Management System high within the company.”
After working with USF SafetyFlorida for about a year, TCG earned recognition in SHARP in September 2006. In 2008, TCG recorded only two injuries and illnesses, giving it a Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) of 2.4, which is significantly lower than the industry average of 3.9. TCG’s DART rate that year was 2.4, also below the 3.1 industry average. In 2009, TCG had a TRC of 1.0 and DART of 1.0. By contrast, according to the BLS, 2009 industry average rates for TRC and DART were 4.2 and 2.1 respectively. That same year, as a result of the company’s dedication to improve workplace safety, TCG earned its first SHARP renewal. Consequently, the company is actively working towards achieving OSHA SHARP status at its other facilities located in Kentucky and Oregon.
The benefit of working with OSHA On-site Consultation is very evident. According to Neil Lukey, “TCG conducts EHS audits of all of our downstream vendors as part of our QEHS Management System. During these audits we recommend the On-site Consultation Program to other companies that we do business with whenever we have the opportunity.”