Chaparral Steel Case Study: MASH Program

Company: Chaparral Steel

Location: , Texas

Employees: 1,000+
The Situation:

Prior to January 2002, when they evaluated the performance of their over 1000 employees including managers, supervisors and team leaders, the members of the Chaparral Steel's senior management team (SMT) thought that they excelled in discussing the recommended training, skills and knowledge needed to produce the product with their employees. For example, the SMT reiterated the maintenance procedures required for the equipment, the specifications required for quality, and the skills required in employee performance. But when they reviewed the safety and health information they offered to their managers, supervisors, and team leaders, the members of the SMT realized that they communicated only general information. For instance, the SMT stressed that the employees needed to stay safe and healthy, they showed a safety video each month, and when an injury occurred, they sought immediate medical attention for the employee. Senior managers agreed that employee safety and health was never to be compromised; many members of the SMT team stated "in our work area, safety is number one" and specific written safety and health procedures were a part of the company's safety program.

However, senior management knew that without the proper information and reinforcement, their employees' focus on the safety and health of the workplace could fall by the wayside; leading to increased injuries and illnesses thereby adversely affecting Chaparral's production of its product. When members of the SMT looked at the array of employer training courses it used to support its production processes, they asked themselves just where safety and health fit in. When they realized that safety was not paramount in the production process, the SMT decided that Chaparral needed to do better.

The Solution - The MASH Training Room:

In December 2001, the members of the SMT decided that they needed to make some changes in the company's safety culture as it pertained to safety and health. The decision was based on several factors including the number of reported injuries and illnesses experienced within the company and a change in upper management (a newly appointed plant manager). For many years prior to the upper management change, the company focused on reducing the lost time because of the injuries it experienced and had formatted its safety and health program around incidents. After the management change, managers and employees at all levels of Chaparral came to realize that employee safety is equal in importance to production and quality. Therefore, providing high quality safety and health training to management and employees was vital to this process.

Members of the SMT redesigned their processes to incorporate quality and safe and healthy working environments into all of its production stages for all employees. They named this new process MASH-Manager Accountable for Safety and Health and implemented a 5-year plan that focused on developing a:

  • Plan for reporting both major and minor injuries without delay,
  • Program for quickly determining the "root cause" of an accident,
  • Method for analyzing job hazards and improving job procedures,
  • Schedule of disciplinary actions for employees and management who failed to follow company safety and health policies and procedures, and
  • System for promoting safety and health awareness.


The goal of this redesigned process was to improve safety and health in the workplace that could also lead to profits in the bottom line. Training was a key component of the paradigm shift. Chaparral sent its safety manager and safety coordinators to an OSHA 501 Train-the-Trainer for General Industry Outreach Program. In addition, Chaparral began using the OSHA Field Inspection Reference Manualas a starting point for defining some key terms (such as employer and general duty clause). The SMT made certain that the MASH training program was designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the constantly changing production priorities at Chaparral Steel.

MASH was designed to educate the managers, supervisors and team leaders about OSHA compliance, safe work practices, and company-specific policies and procedures, and it provides the tools needed to meet these requirements. Chaparral tailored OSHA's 10-hour General Industries course to its needs by incorporating the specific steel-manufacturing operations it uses into the program. MASH uses many breakout sessions to promote the discussion and sharing of ideas among its program participants. In addition Chaparral included photos of its steel operations and workforce in the program's presentation to illustrate the company's safety and health hazards and provide examples of recommended safe procedures. During the 2-day MASH training program, each section provides tools to the manager, supervisor or team leader that he or she can take back to the floor and use. Some of the tools are:

  • A tabbed manual (called MASH) that is a safety and health reference for most steps in the manufacturing process;
  • An OSHA poster that is printed in English and Spanish;
  • Machine-guarding rulers that measure the guarding-protection and safe-reach distances;
  • A wallet-sized card that lists the codes of hazardous materials;
  • A 110-volt GFCI circuit tester that is used to inspect outlets in work areas and at home, and
  • Twenty-six safety and health audit forms that focus on a variety of topics from auxiliary equipment to welding, cutting, and brazing.


The cost of the tools issued to each attendee during the MASH training is less than $37; Chaparral considers this a modest investment that provides tremendous benefits. As a result of the training, Chaparral now has over 525 of its managers, supervisors and team leaders and hourly employees on all shifts-that have taken the training program-inspecting guards, electrical outlets and chemical labels and performing daily general safety and health audits. Chaparral's MASH instructors and safety professionals refer to this activity as "having added safety eyes in promoting awareness."

The last section of the program covers accident investigation. According to MASH, accidents indicate a failure in the safety and health program; the root cause of every accident must be properly determined to ensure recommendations and methods are identified that can be used to remediate the situation and prevent injuries. Program participants conduct mock investigations utilizing all of the tools discussed, issued and reviewed during the program. This exercise affords the participants the opportunity to make mistakes and correct errors without compromising the safety and health of Chaparral's employees. At the end of the program's second day, participants take a 25-question ½-hour test to help evaluate their understanding of the material covered during the entire course.

The following is a list of MASH program topics that are discussed by the instructor on Day 1.

  • Introduction to OSHA
  • Walking and Working Surfaces
  • Means of Egress and Fire Protection
  • Electrical Safety
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Machine Guarding
  • Hazard Communication
  • Bloodborne Pathogens


During Day 2, the Plant Manager, who is also the Vice President of Operations, discusses management policies, responsibilities and safety and health culture changes at Chaparral Steel. Management accountability is the key component of the MASH program. Topics discussed on Day 2 are:

  • Managing Safety
  • Hazard Assessment
  • Safety Audits
  • Safe Job Instructions
  • Accident Investigation

The SMT at Chaparral knows that MASH is not a groundbreaking program. Large and small companies have been designing their own company-specific training programs for years. According to Chaparral's senior managers, what makes this training successful is that now they ensure and advocate that all company employees have the training, knowledge and tools they need to successfully perform their managerial and production tasks and incorporate safety and health into the company's culture.

The Impact:

In calendar year (CY) 2000, Chaparral had over 170 OSHA recordables with a frequency of almost 15 in the hourly injury illness rate. In CY 2004, it had under 75 OSHA recordables with a frequency under 7-an improvement of about 50 percent. Chaparral Steel is currently on pace for an added 25 percent reduction in recordables in CY 2005.

Since the introduction of the MASH program at Chaparral in January 2002, 525 on-site managers, team leaders and hourly employees have attended the MASH training. In addition, Chaparral has offered MASH to its contractors and customers who have shown an interest in it; approximately 25 contractor/vendors have taken the training. Chaparral's SMT believes that the MASH program has helped to reduce the recorded number of OSHA recordable incidents at Chaparral from 177 in 2000 to a projected 51 for CY 2005 as shown in the figure below.

For more information about Chaparral Steel, please contact Ron Herring.

Recordable Incidents by Calendar Year

Calendar Year

OSHA Recordables


CY 2000



CY 2001



CY 2002



CY 2003



CY 2004



Projected CY 2005



The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of the U.S. Department of Labor.