In 2004, the management of MI Metals, Inc. decided to contact OSHA On-site Consultation to help the company improve protection for its workers. This decision was made because their plant located in Oldsmar, Florida, had injury and illness rates that were above the national average. The management of the company wanted to make sure their workers were protected. After visits from consultants representing OSHA On-site Consultation Program, the company was able to lower the number of workplace injuries and illnesses below the national average. In June, 2011, the company's efforts were recognized when it was accepted into OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).
MI Metals, Inc. employs 257 workers nationwide. The company has facilities in Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Arizona. The MI Metals, Inc. facility located in Oldsmar, FL, is an aluminum extruded product manufacturer (NAICS: 331316, Aluminum extruded product manufacturing). The primary function of this facility is the operation of an aluminum extrusion press, which the company uses in the production of products for customers that are primarily in the construction industry. MI Metals' products have been used by manufacturers including those involved in the production of windows, outdoor recreational facilities, hand rails, security fencing, awnings, and solar energy industries.
In 2003, MI Metals in Oldsmar, Florida reported a Total Recordable Case rate (TRC rate) of 13.4. The company's Days Away, Restricted, and/or Transfer rate (DART rate) was 3.6. That same year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average rates for the industry were 6.6 and 3.7 respectively. In an effort to improve safety for its workers, MI Metals contacted OSHA's On-site Consultation program. The company had heard about the program through its workers who had worked previously at facilities which used On-site Consultation services.
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses, and is available to businesses in all U.S. states and most territories. The University of South Florida administers the OSHA On-site Consultation in Florida through its program, "USF SafetyFlorida." When the safety and health consultant from USF arrived at the MI Metals facility in Oldsmar, he conducted a comprehensive visit covering both safety and health hazards. According to Brook Massey, president of MI Metals, the consultant "literally produced a couple-inch-thick book of recommendations." During their first visit in 2004 to the MI Metals plant in Oldsmar, consultants from USF Safety Florida identified an assortment of potential hazards which needed to be addressed. The list included fall hazards, electrical hazards, machine guarding hazards and chemical hazards.
Subsequent to the visit from consultants from USF SafetyFlorida (USF), management at MI Metals was able to correct all identified hazards; primarily through engineering controls. Where possible electrical hazards were rewired and rebuilt, guards and shields were installed on machinery, and a fall protection system was engineered and installed for the truck loader.
By 2010, MI Metals was able to report significant safety operation improvements at its Oldsmar facility. That year, it recorded a TRC of 2.8, and a DART of 2.8. This rate was well below the industry average (5.5 and 3.3 respectively). In terms of increased protection for its workers, the benefits were obvious; however, the company also experienced benefits in other areas. In 2003, the year prior to contacting OSHA On-site Consultation, workers' compensation premiums were $21,502; in 2010, the company's premiums had dropped to $6,476.
In June, 2011, the worksite's efforts were recognized when it was accepted into OSHA's On-site Consultation Program's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). SHARP recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. Acceptance of a company into SHARP is an achievement of status that singles out the company among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.
According to Mel Mitchell, Safety Director JT Walker Industries, Inc., the holding company for MI Metals, "Since beginning to work with the Consultation Program we have seen a dramatic turnaround in every aspect of the safety program. Everyone in the company is now visibly involved. Incidents, both large and small, are investigated for root cause and action is taken to prevent recurrence. [When a hazard is] identified, action is taken immediately to address it before an injury can occur." The On-Site Consultation Program provides "valuable guidance on programs, implementation, hazard reduction and sharing knowledge relating to what has and has not worked at other locations. Additionally, simply their presence in the facility sends a message to every employee that the company is serious about safety."
The Oldsmar facility is not the only MI Metals site to work with OSHA On-site Consultation. Staff at an MI Metals facility in Pennsylvania also expressed high praise for the value of the program. Greg Casner, safety coordinator at the MI Metals plant in Millersburg, PA stated, "Participation in the [On-site] Consultation Program has made my safety coordinator responsibilities much easier by assisting us with instilling safety in everyone rather than just a few people pushing the program. Working toward SHARP and - after achieving it [in 2006] - working to keep it, has given the entire plant a focus and a goal that they know is achievable if they work together."
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