Portside Maintenance and Repair (Portside), located in Jacksonville, Florida, contacted the University of South Florida (USF) to get assistance with strengthening the company's injury and illness prevention programs. USF's SafetyFlorida office operates the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) On-site Consultation Program in the State of Florida. In October 2010, after working with USF SafetyFlorida, Portside achieved recognition in OSHA's On-site Consultation Program's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). SHARP recognizes small employers who operate exemplary injury and illness prevention programs. Acceptance into SHARP is an achievement of status that singles out a worksite among business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.
Portside, a seven employee company, specializes in marine cargo container repair that serves the maritime industry.
In 2007, Portside experienced high injury incident rates as a result of injuries due to hazards related to power tools, forklifts and welding operations. Portside's Total Recordable Case (TRC) rate was 34.1 and the Days Away, Restricted and Transferred (DART) rate was 8.5. For comparison, the 2007 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics national industry average for NAICS 423930 TRC and DART was 4.9 and 6.1 respectively. The TRC rate represents the total non-fatal injuries and illnesses per 100 full time employees for a given period of time. The DART rate represents the total non-fatal injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity, and or job transfer per 100 full time employees for the given period of time.
Portside management was alarmed by the high incident rates and decided to conduct an extensive review of their internal operating procedures and processes. This worksite analysis involved the workers and covered everything from housekeeping to work methods. Their sole focus was to determine where the company could improve their injury and illness prevention programs. With the support and encouragement from senior management, the workers knew that they could lower their incident rates.
After Portside conducted their initial worksite analysis, the company initiated a policy of conducting safety briefings before the start of work each day. In addition to these daily safety briefings, the management also focused on identifying and addressing any unsafe practices or conditions. With these preliminary improvements, Portside management and workers started to experience a positive change within the safety and health culture of the company.
Senior management supported and encouraged the safety culture enhancements and realized more could be done. Through networking with other companies and conducting online research, Portside learned about the OSHA On-site Consultation Program and contacted USF SafetyFlorida for assistance. The OSHA On-site Consultation Program offers free, confidential services to small and medium-sized businesses and is available to employers in all U.S. states and territories. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, advise on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.
According to Gustavo (Gus) Cagigas, Portside's Safety Coordinator Portside's request to use OSHA On-site Consultation services was a natural progression of the site's commitment to improve safety and health performance. He stated, "It was a let's see if we can make it better mindset that led the company to work with the USF SafetyFlorida consultant."
"While management was a bit nervous during the initial walkthrough, they also looked forward to working with the OSHA On-site Consultation service," Cagigas continued. "It's another set of eyes, a freshness, to take a look at what we've done." During the initial visit in February 2010 the USF SafetyFlorida consultant identified several hazards that required corrective action. These hazards ranged from installing permanent wiring instead of using flexible electrical cords to making improvements to the company's safety and health programs and policies.
Portside maintained a zero DART rate for two years prior to contacting USF's SafetyFlorida and being recognized as a SHARP participant in October 2010. Cagigas noted, "The SHARP award is a tangible reward that demonstrates the fruits of our labor when it comes to safety." Robert Davis, Portside's foreman added, "We're proud of this achievement, seeing where we were and where we are now."
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