Farmway Coop Inc. Achieves Substantial Reduction in Injury and Illness Rates by working with OSHA's On-site Consultation Program

Company: Farmway Cooperative, Inc.

Location: Beloit, Kansas

Employees: 155 Onsite Employees

Farmway Cooperative, Inc.
Industry: NAICS 424510, Agriculture (Grain Handling)
Success Brief:

Due to injury and illness rates above the national average, Farmway Cooperative Inc. (Farmway) of Beloit, Kansas decided to develop a more robust safety culture and implement an effective safety and health management system. In 2008, seeking assistance to accomplish this goal, Farmway contacted the Kansas On-site Consultation Program, a division of the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL). With the assistance from KDOL On-site Consultation, management support, and employee participation Farmway was able to reduce the injury and illness rate below the national average and create a safety culture that provided worker protection. In 2009, these safety and health successes earned Farmway recognition in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) On-site Consultation Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). SHARP recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system. This achievement singled out Farmway among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health. David Edwards, Farmway Safety Director noted, "Working with KDOL consultants helped bring our company to the next level of safety awareness which in turn changed our safety culture within Farmway. Our dollar value of workman's compensation has been reduced along with a yearly reduction in our Experience Modifier Rate."

Company Description:

Farmway is a dealer in grain, feed, agronomic products, petroleum, farm supply, pet products, and products for lawns and gardens, with locations in 18 communities across northern Kansas. Farmway serves its members by providing guidance on how to increase their profitability through the use of their field management programs as well as discounted grain and agricultural products.

Headquartered in Beloit, Kansas, Farmway employs 155 workers and has been offering goods and services to its members for over 100 years.

The Situation:

Mr. Art Duerksen, Farmway's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), recognized a need for an enhanced safety culture in response to the increasing injury and illness rates within the company. In 2007, Farmway's Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) was 15.49 and the Days Away, and its Restricted and/or Transfer (DART) rate was 6.52. In contrast, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average TRC for companies in NAICS 4245 (Farm product raw material merchant wholesalers) was 6.3 and the average DART rate was 2.5. While Farmway had an existing safety and health program, Mr. Duerksen wanted to enhance the safety and health protection of Farmway's workers. Mr. Duerksen was aware of OSHA's On-site Consultation Program from earlier in his career and decided to request an On-site Consultation visit from KDOL in January 2008.

Largely funded by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. As part of OSHA's On-site Consultation Program, highly qualified safety and health professionals from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. In FY 2011, in response to requests from small employers looking to create or improve their injury and illness prevention programs, these consultants, conducted approximately 30,000 visits to small business worksites covering over 1.5 million workers across the nation.

The Solution:

During the initial On-site Consultation visit in January of 2008, the KDOL consultant identified deficiencies within Farmway's safety and health management system. These deficiencies ranged from hazards regarding fall protection, inadequate machine guarding, as well as improper documentation within their written safety and health procedures. Farmway immediately started taking action to address the deficiencies highlighted in the visit by placing machine guards on equipment and correcting railing issues to prevent falls. Additionally, Farmway created a safety committee, which included management and employees, to review and discuss safety issues on a monthly basis. This safety committee discusses safety and health topics at each of the companies' eighteen locations throughout Kansas.

Impressed by Farmway's commitment and progress in implementing a safety and health management system the KDOL consultant suggested that Farmway apply for SHARP recognition.

The Impact:

Through Farmway's work with the Kansas On-site Consultation Program, the company saw a considerable reduction in their Injury and Illness rates. Farmway achieved an 80% reduction in their TRC rate from 2007 to 2011, and their DART rate fell 68% from 2007 to 2011. Furthermore, Farmway has reduced the number of injuries and illnesses at their 19 worksites by nearly 50% from 2007 to 2011, resulting in a reduction in workers compensation claims, which reduced by 91% from 2008 to 2011.


David Edwards, Safety Director, Farmway Coop Inc. Beloit, Kansas, October 2012