Astech, Inc. Works with Michigan OSHA Consultation Program to Improve Safety Culture in Their High-Hazard Industry


Company: Astech Alloy Steel Technologies, Inc.
Location: Vassar, Michigan
NAICS Code: Steel foundries (except investment)
Employees: 36

Mark Swanson, Quality/Safety Manager, with SHARP Banner

Mark Swanson, Quality/Safety Manager, with SHARP Banner

Astech Alloy Steel Technologies, Inc. is a preferred global supplier of steel and wear-resistant chrome iron castings. The company specializes in the production of steel, stainless steel, alloy steel, and gray iron castings. The casting processes include Green Sand, No-Bake, and Shell.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) On-Site Consultation program within the Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division helps small business employers identify and correct hazards, as well as improve their Safety and Health Management Systems. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), On-Site Consultation Program, offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities, such as the CET Division, work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

The CET Division initially began working with Astech, Inc., in 2012 as new management increased their focus on quality production and an improved safety culture. This change in focus was no small task given the high hazard nature of the steel foundry industry. CET consultants identified a number of hazards, including an improperly guarded band saw, storage of oxygen cylinder too close to other combustibles, storage of acetylene too close to an exit, inadequate capacity marking of a steel sling, an opening in a circuit breaker box, hot and neutral conductors reversed on 120-volt plug, and an inadequate guard on a belt and pulley. In addition to correcting these hazards, Astech took several steps to improve its workplace safety posture. Some of Astech’s improvements and new initiatives include:

  • reporting, investigating, and analyzing injury and non-injury incidents;

  • the Quality Manager reporting directly to the company’s president on safety performance;

  • management attending MIOSHA Training Institute courses;

  • using the assessment and recommendations provided by CET consultants in the Safety and Health Program Assessment Worksheet (OSHA Form 33) to perform a system-wide review of safety; and

  • ceasing all production one full day each year to conduct annual employee safety and health training.

Astech now has an excellent system in place, which incorporates each of the seven required elements of an effective Safety and Health Management System: hazard anticipation and detection, hazard prevention and control, planning and evaluation, administration and supervision, safety and health training, management leadership, and employee participation.

CET consultants helped Astech become self-sufficient in managing occupational safety and health. (1) Astech’s hard work while engaged with MIOSHA’s consultation program from 2013 through 2015 resulted in a reduction of their Total Recordable Case (TRC) rate from 6.2 per 100 employees to a 3-year average of 1.9. (2) From 2016 through 2017, their average TRC rate was 1.7, and their Days Away from Work, Job Restriction, or Transfer (DART) rate also averaged 1.7. (3)The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national industry TRC average for steel foundries in 2015 was 9.1 for NAICS code: 331513, Steel Foundries. For 2017, the national average TRC rate was 7.4, and the national average DART rate was 4.5.

In 2015, Astech became MIOSHA’s 43rd Michigan Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (MSHARP) company in the 12 years of the award being offered to Michigan’s employers. The company has continually maintained its MSHARP participation. On November 29, 2017, Astech had their MSHARP status renewed for a 3-year period. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary safety and health program. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement that singles Astech out among its business peers as a model for workplace safety and health. The use of On-Site Consultation services and pursuit of SHARP designation by employers are voluntary.

Employees’ trust in Astech has been strengthened by the change to a positive safety culture. Employees now work as a team and take more ownership in health and safety matters. As a result, there has been an overall reduction in injuries, workers compensation insurance premiums and related costs, as well as other direct and indirect losses.

Companies interested in Michigan SHARP can contact MIOSHA’s CET Division On-Site Consultation program to discuss details and to schedule an on-site safety and health evaluation. A Michigan SHARP information kit that includes the application guidelines is available at www.michigan.gov/miosha, by scrolling to Cooperative Programs and clicking MSHARP.

To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit www.osha.gov/consultation.

Source: Mark Swanson, Quality/Safety Manager, Astech Alloy Steel Technologies, Inc.