CraftMaster Manufacturing, Inc. (CMI) VPP Star Site

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CraftMaster Manufacturing, Inc. (CMI) VPP Star Site

Origin: Region III, PA.; Towanda, Pennsylvania facility

VPP Site Approval Date: 1994 - Merit approval; 1996 - Star approval; 2004 - Star recertification.

Industry: Other wood products (NAICS Code 321999, SIC Code 2499)

Producer of: CraftMaster Door Designs®, MiraTEC®, and Extira®

Employees: 635

Success with VPP: Management Leadership and Employee Involvement

VPP sites must demonstrate a high degree of management support and employee involvement before being approved as a VPP Star participant. But these elements must be continuously improved if the site is to be recertified as a Star participant, which occurs every three to five years. At CraftMaster Manufacturing, Inc. (CMI), management and employees take this responsibility seriously, and their actions are an example of how an exemplary safety and health management system operates. Employee input and feedback is encouraged through empowerment, so safety and health deficiencies are identified and corrected as they arise. Employees are involved in safety and health teams and inspections. New equipment and processes are analyzed in an effort to avoid injuries and illnesses. The result of this empowerment and involvement is that employees, along with management, are successful in their efforts to continuously improve the safety and health environment. Also, this involvement increases feelings of ownership of and commitment to the overall safety process at the facility.

CMI Vice President and Mill Manager Robert Andzulis states, "Our employees continue their efforts on a daily basis to maintain a safe working environment at the mill while producing quality products. It takes a lot of commitment to achieve this endeavor."

In part because of employee involvement in safety and health, the site has maintained a three-year (2001- 03) total recordable case incidence rate (TCIR) of 1.3 and a days away, restricted or transferred rate (DART) of 0.7. These rates are respectively 85 and 83 percent below the corresponding national average rates for SIC Code 2499. During October 2004, the facility surpassed 9 million hours without a lost workday injury.

"As a result of VPP participation, our site has a comprehensive safety and health management system that has consistently improved over the years with emphasis on the total involvement of both management and our employees. Through the efforts of all employees, the facility has continued to experience injury and illness rates well below the industry average," said Safety Advisor Joe Ritsko.

Some examples of CMI's employee involvement include:

The Behavior Observation Program

After using a checklist approach for employee safety observations for many years, in 2002 a new behavior-based observation program was initiated to improve the existing program. Under the new program, observations are conducted during upset conditions, equipment startups and shutdowns, and scheduled maintenance downtime. These are the times when accidents are more likely to happen. A new safe behavior audit form was developed. The audit includes 10 safety-related behaviors for observation and requires a written description of the feedback provided to the employee being observed. Subsequently, the feedback descriptions are used at safety meetings to discuss at-risk behaviors. During 2002-03, 232 employees were trained in this new program, and by the end of 2004, all operating employees had participated in the new program. The program has been well received and is providing quality feedback compared with the old checklist approach.

The Hazard Reporting System

At CMI, employees have many avenues available to them for reporting safety and health items, including the Safety Work Order System, the Near Miss Reporting Program, the Suggestion Form Program and direct notification of any member of a safety and health team or CMI management. This system was implemented to encourage employee input and feedback, and to identify and correct safety and health deficiencies as they arise.

Under the Safety Work Order System, any employee can submit a work order request if an unsafe condition is identified. The request is forwarded to the maintenance department and tracked until the unsafe condition is eliminated. During 2003, 168 safety work orders were submitted with only two carried over into January 2004.

The Near Miss Program allows employees to report unsafe conditions or acts without reprisal. The near miss forms are forwarded to the department advisor for immediate action and then go to the Safety Department for tracking. During 2003, 21 near misses were reported, investigated, and addressed. This program was developed after feedback from employees indicated that an anonymous reporting system would improve the safety and health environment.

Pre-Use Analysis

To evaluate new equipment and processes to address potential safety and health hazards prior to installation, a Capital Investment Proposal (CIP) process is used. After the project CIP is prepared and approved by engineering and facility managers, safety and health teams such as Safety, Health and Industrial Hygiene; Safety Compliance; and MSDS Review and Ergonomics conduct an analysis of potential hazards. Employees are involved in these safety and health teams. Behavior Job Analyses are developed and reviewed with operating personnel. During 2004, the pre-use analysis was utilized to evaluate a new coating line prior to its installation.

Source and Date: Joseph Ritsko, Safety Advisor, CraftMaster Manufacturing, Inc. (November 2004)

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