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OSHA Challenge Participant Ameristar's Key Investment in Keeping Workers Safe Pays Off


Background:

Ameristar Fence Products (Ameristar) began almost 30 years ago and is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since the company's beginnings, a high standard of workplace safety and health has been paramount to the company's vision and mission.

Ameristar began participating in OSHA Challenge (Challenge) in August 2009. Challenge utilizes volunteer Administrators and Coordinators who provide support to participants in promoting safety and health in the workplace. With Ameristar's already strong commitment and foundation to safety, the decision to participate in Challenge wasn't a difficult one. Ameristar's key investment in its workers ensures their safe return home every day. According to Dennis Patrick, Vice President of Manufacturing, "The OSHA Challenge program helps benchmark our current performance and helps us focus on obtaining the next level of our safety program."

Success Impact:

Key Collaboration Helps Achieve Safety Milestones

Oklahoma Safety Council is Ameristar's Challenge Administrator and helps guide them through Challenge and achieve milestones along the way. "The OSHA Challenge Program and our Administrator, Oklahoma Safety Council are great partners in our safety program. In approximately two years we have seen an 84 percent reduction in our injury rate, which is now well below the industry standard," said Galen Sawyer, Director of Environmental, Health, and Safety.

"Team" Mentality Proves Beneficial in Establishing Strong Safety Culture

Ameristar has grown from a one man shop to a company that employs close to 500 workers which make-up the corporate office and production plants based in Tulsa, as well as the sales offices and the nine Distribution Centers located all over the country. Ameristar understands and values the perspectives of both labor and management and uses a "team mentality" to help maintain its high safety and health standards. For example, during a new worker's orientation on their first day at Ameristar, workers are asked to make a commitment not only to working safely each day, but also to continually watch out for the safety of their fellow workers. Workers are mentored and trained to serve as junior safety representatives who can identify potential hazards onsite and abate and/or correct them in a proactive manner. Production worker Mario Hill said, "The safety program and the Challenge program is great, I actually have a say in the way we operate. I feel like I am part owner of the program."

Ameristar promotes an "everyone is involved" approach to safety. Galen Sawyer conducts daily safety inspections at the local plants and uses these visits as an opportunity to see and hear the fresh ideas and concerns of the production workers. Following these visits, he holds regular safety meetings with management to relay all concerns and issues. Solutions are implemented on a company-wide basis in a consistent and standardized manner. Ameristar's Six Sigma groups also incorporate their "safety first" philosophy into every one of their projects. This builds the safety element into all work processes from the beginning.

Challenge Participant: Ameristar Fence Products

Challenge Administrator: Oklahoma Safety Council

Challenge Coordinator: Gabriel John, Xerox Corporation

Approved to Participate in Challenge: August 6, 2009

Workers: Approximately 500

Industry: Fence Installation and Manufacturing (NAICS 332323)

Sources and Date: Galen Sawyer, EH&S Director, Ameristar Fence Products; Dave Koeneke, Executive Director, Oklahoma Safety Council; Danielle Gibbs, OSHA Challenge Liaison, OSHA's National Office (September 2010)

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