reminiscent of a Las Vegas casino when Gordon Hannaford, surrounded
by 60 to 70 employees at Point-Five Windows, stands behind a long
wooden table covered with stacks of silver coins. But at these special
ceremonies at the Fort Collins, Colo., company, everyone walks away
a winner-including the house.
Hannaford presents a one-troy- ounce coin worth about $9 to each
employee to symbolize something that was once almost unheard of
at Point-Five Windows: an injury-free month for all of its employees.
These days, however, injury-free months have become the norm at Point-Five,
a manufacturing company that specializes in high-end custom wood
windows and doors made with exotic woods, copper, and hand-burnished
finishes and patinas. Frequently, Point-Five goes 90 consecutive
days without a workplace injury, and commemorates that milestone
by presenting two silver coins to each employee.
Employees at Point-Five Windows in Fort Collins, Colo., gather around
Gordon Hannaford, standing, right, to receive a silver coin.
That means that Hannaford and Point-Five's two other owners,
Dave and Ann Lundahl, give away a lot of silver coins-more
than 2,500 since they started the program in September 1999-and
they hope the number keeps climbing. As they see it, they've
hit the jackpot with a program that gets their workers excited about
workplace safety, keeps them focused on working together as a team
to prevent injuries, and saves the company as much as $60,000 a
year in workers' compensation premiums.
"It's amazing how much excitement there is about the
coins," said Hannaford. "People have really bought into
the program and they look forward to getting their coins each month.
"Best of all, it's generated a lot of awareness about
safety and a lot of cooperation. You'll overhear someone say
something like, ‘Hey, let me help you carry that door. I don't
want you to mess up my coin this month,'" Hannaford
said. "It's all said in fun," but in reality,
it reflects a company-wide culture that's committed to preventing
Point-Five's safety culture runs from the owners and management
all the way to the production floor. Employees take turns serving
on a risk assessment and incident review safety committee that meets
monthly to review incidents, "near misses," and hazards.
The company holds a plant-wide safety award meeting each month,
and its eight departments meet at least bimonthly to discuss safety
issues unique to the department.
The company owners encourage workers to identify unsafe work practices
and reward them for doing so-regardless of who's being
corrected. Chief Executive Officer Lundahl established the "CEO
Wave-Off Award" after a worker noticed him starting to use
a piece of equipment without using the appropriate personal protective
equipment and offered Lundahl his own PPE. Rather than chastise
him, Lundahl made the worker the first recipient of the CEO Wave-Off
Award. A big poster on Point-Five's production floor recognizes
the worker and serves as a constant reminder that everyone at the
company is responsible for safety and health-and that no one
Safety was not always a deeply embedded part of the culture at Point-Five.
Lee Smith, senior health and safety consultant for the Colorado
Onsite Consultation Project, remembers back to 1996, when he said
Point-Five "had the highest LWDII (Lost Workday Injury and
Illness) rate I'd ever seen" - 51.1 per 100 employees.
Point-Five was paying dearly for its high injury and illness rate
in workers' compensation premiums, medical costs, and lost
productivity. Morale was slipping among its skilled craftsmen. OSHA
targeted Point-Five on its list of companies with particularly high
injury and illness rates.
Lee Smith, right, a consultant with the Colorado Onsite Consultation
Project, discusses safety and health programs at Point-Five
Windows with Doug Wichlacz, vice president of operations and
chief operating officer.
Hannaford knew something had to change but didn't know where
to start, so he contacted the Colorado Onsite Consultation Project
for help. During their first visit to the facility, Smith said the
consultation team identified "close to 50 hazards" –
from unguarded equipment to overhead storage areas with no railings
to frayed electrical cords.
They prioritized the hazards, beginning with the most dangerous,
and gave Hannaford and other Point-Five workers the information
they needed to bring the facility up to OSHA standards. Eliminating
hazards at Point-Five was a long, slow process that involved continuous
interaction with consultants at the Colorado Onsite Consultation
"Working with the onsite consultation people was a great experience,"
said Hannaford. "The people we worked with were always super-cooperative.
They'd come out, point out problems, and steer us in the right
direction so we could fix them."
The company introduced model programs in machine guarding, respiratory
protection, hazard communication, hearing conservation, emergency
action drills, housekeeping, and personal protective equipment.
Point-Five purchased new hydraulic lifts to reduce strains and sprains
when lifting heavy window units. It provided custom-molded hearing
protection for all employees. To keep employee's exposures
to air contaminants below the permissible exposure limits, the company
introduced engineering controls with custom spray booths for patina
and stain application, as well as an enclosed blasting booth for
Within three years of its first OSHA consultation, the company not
only exceeded OSHA standards; it also met the criteria for special
recognition from the agency. In 2000, Point-Five Windows became
the 18th company in Colorado and the third in Fort Collins to qualify
for OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.
The program, better known as "SHARP," recognizes companies
with exemplary safety and health programs that go beyond OSHA's
minimal standards. Point-Five Windows recently received its third
consecutive SHARP certification.
By that time, the company's LWDII rate had dropped dramatically
from 51.1 to 1.69 per 100 employees.
"Our people take a lot of pride in the turnaround we've
had at Point-Five Windows, and in the fact that they work for a
company that cares about safety," said Hannaford. "If
you want to be the best company out there, then it's not enough
to have good wages, benefits, and profitability. You have to have
a good safety program in place and make sure that you have a safe
is an essential variable," Hannaford said, "and as our
experience shows, it's a win-win for everybody." JSHQ
OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program
provides incentives and support to small employers who develop,
and continuously improve effective safety and health programs
at their worksites.
The program recognizes employers who receive a comprehensive safety
and health consultation visit, correct all workplace safety and
health hazards, and adopt effective safety and health management
systems. Participants also agree to request future consultative
visits if major changes in working conditions or processes occur
that may introduce new hazards. Employers meeting these program
requirements may be exempt from general scheduled OSHA inspections
(not complaint or accident investigation inspections) for one year
initially, or two years after renewal.
More information about SHARP is posted on the OSHA website at www.osha.gov