Bison Ford Becomes First Car Dealership and Automotive Repair Shop to attain SHARP Status in Montana

Company: Bison Ford Motor Company

Location: Great Falls, Montana

NAICS Code: 441110 – New Car Dealers

Employees: 55

Montana Safety & Health Consultation Program Logo

Bison Ford is a premier car dealership and full service auto body shop located in Great Falls, Montana. In 2011, Bison Ford started seeing rising numbers of accidents and needed to make changes to its safety programs to ensure the safest possible environment for its employees. Gaining employee involvement with its new safety culture was important. Bison Ford management reached out to other car dealerships and businesses in the area who introduced them to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) On-Site Consultation Program at the Montana Department of Labor (DLI). In 2017, Bison Ford invited DLI safety and health consultants to review its safety and health programs and help identify areas for improvement.

During the initial on-site visit, the consultants identified a lack of frequent and periodic inspections of the overhead crane, an improperly adjusted abrasive grinder, and lack of inspections of fall protection equipment prior to initial use. To correct the identified hazards, the employer installed proper guards, developed equipment checklists, and implemented inspection and training programs. In addition to identifying and correcting physical hazards, Bison Ford implemented a near miss reporting system. The company trained staff in hazard and near miss identification in order for them to properly report, correct, and communicate information to all staff.

After the first time working with the DLI team, Bison Ford experienced a greater level of management and employee involvement in identifying safe acts, unsafe acts, unsafe conditions, and incidents that occur at the facility. With a solid safety program in place, Bison Ford’s next step was to apply for the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). In April 2018, Bison Ford became the first car dealership and automotive service company in Montana to attain SHARP status. Bison Ford received their SHARP renewal in May 2019.

SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Small businesses that achieve SHARP status receive a deferral from OSHA or the State Plan programmed inspections for the period that the SHARP designation is valid. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP is an achievement that identifies the employer as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers. As a result of participating in SHARP, Bison Ford’s employees have gained an enhanced understanding of the importance of safety and health in the workplace, management and employee participation has increased, and ideas for continuous improvement keep evolving. Bison Ford has maintained their Total Recordable Case rates below the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) national average for their industry since becoming SHARP.

Companies interested in SHARP can contact their local OSHA On-Site Consultation program to discuss details and schedule an on-site safety and health evaluation. To locate the On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit